Jessie had a very difficult start in life. She barely survived multiple placements where she was malnourished and severely mistreated. By the time she was adopted by Paul and Olga Goddard at just under one year of age, she had little use for people. As a “teen” she showed her anxiety through tearing the house to pieces every time she was left alone for even a few minutes – her parents always wondered if the house would be standing when they came home. Her daddy came to wonder if he could survive this “very troubled teen.” Jessie’s momma reminded Paul that it takes time to build trust and that this is something he undertakes with great care for his clients, and must now do the same with his own “daughter.” Then, one day, while helping Paul at work, she got her leg caught in a steel coyote trap and tried hysterically to free herself. When Paul was informed of her situation he went running to help, and as soon as she saw him she stopped thrashing, looked him square in the eye, and knew that he was there for her. This was the moment when they first bonded!
Since then she has worked with great devotion as a Wilderness Therapy Dog. First, with her Golden Retriever brother, San’ka, and since his passing with her Golden Retriever sister, Leia. Jessie teaches the clients extremely valuable lessons in relationships and trust – as the kids must gently and patiently earn her trust and love if they want to spend time with her. She teaches healthy boundaries and the benefits of taking your time to build real relationships. Jessie is also very sensitive to clients’ pain and sadness, as she has been through so much in her life. She will often kindly approach a tearful young person and lovingly lick the tears from her face.
Jessie also knows a great deal about the process of healing. Some years ago she tore her CCLs (cranial cruciate ligament – the dog equivalent of ACLs) in her knees. The only way she would be able to run and play, as she so loves to do, would be to go through a TPLO surgery (tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy), which is very intense. She successfully went through the bilateral TPLO and worked hard to recover, accomplishing much more than most dogs who go through this procedure. She did so with the love and help of her family and friends. Why is this so important? Because she serves as a powerful example to her clients that healing is possible and that it takes hard work and dedication to reach your potential.
Jessie’s daddy and assistant therapist, Paul Goddard, Ph.D., is honored to share in her journey of supporting and challenging young people to find the strength and love to heal their hearts, minds, and relationships as they reconnect with hopes and dreams that had started to slip away. Jessie is getting older, but still loves nothing more than to go out to the “field” with her daddy so she can explore, chew sticks, and love the kids who need a furry friend!