Although this series focuses on West Los Angeles dogs, there are wonderful Happy Ending stories to be found all over. This is one of them.
Jessie and Callie: Everyday is a Holiday
By Marda Winnick
They were a family, you know, with the proverbial happy home in San Diego County. There were six of them—3 dogs and 3 cats—and their humans, who had them since they were young.
And then one day they no longer owned a house, courtesy of the recession. The home foreclosing, the family was forced to move out, leaving their pets behind in the now-abandoned dwelling. It’s not that they didn’t care, but they, like so many others, just couldn’t take their pets with them. They returned when they could to provide food and comfort. Grateful for that, 14-year-old Callie, 5-year-old Jessie, and their elderly brother waited in the lonely house, missing their humans, and although thoroughly housebroken, were forced to do their business inside their home.
The three cats were eventually turned into a local shelter. The three dogs waited patiently for their family. One day their brother was taken away and put down because the family couldn’t find a home for him. The family did not want to turn in the girls to a shelter because they knew that with Callie being fourteen, she would most likely suffer a similar fate, and Jessie would lose her best friend.
So then there were two in the silent, deserted home. Weeks went by and still they waited, but to no avail.
And then, as sometimes happens for a fortunate few animals, a chain of events is set in motion. One day an appraiser showed up to evaluate the home for the bank and discovered the dogs. He mentioned to his wife that they were there by themselves, the owners had moved out, and they needed a home. She contacted a dog lover friend, Escondido-based realtor Geri Bekmanis of Bekmanis & Associates who asked the appraiser to arrange a meeting with the owners at the home to take pictures, get their story, and network the two girls to find an immediate foster home.
When Geri showed up at the house a jarring sight greeted her: a kitchen strewn with paper and garbage and that reeked of pet waste. One dog was staring forlornly out the window. She knew time was critical to get the dogs out of there. She networked and within a few days had lined up a foster home. When she called the owner to arrange to pick up the dogs she learned that the county had just put an impound notice on their door because the dogs had been reported as appearing abandoned.
Geri got to the home quickly and left with the two dogs. They literally had nothing: no beds, no toys, an almost empty bag of food, old tattered collars, and only one leash. First stop was the vet, who pronounced them in surprisingly good health. In fact, Callie is a very spritely senior. Then to the pet store where she bought them new collars and leashes, had them bathed, and then took them to their waiting foster home. To ensure they got off to a good start, she also supplied the foster with a pet store gift card and some cash.
They were safe, but couldn’t remain in foster care indefinitely. And considering they been together all their lives, they really needed to find a home together. A task akin to finding hens’ teeth.
And so the search commenced to find them a home. Geri reports she sent over 1,000 e-mails and posted them on Craigslist, Petfinder, and myriads of rescue websites. One day Jessie and Callie were even featured on San Diego television. Nothing.
More than 100 miles away, long-time pet owner Paulette Cohn had recently lost her dog and was thinking it was about time to get another one. She had looked, but none had “spoken” to her. Actually, she was thinking about more than one so they could keep each other company during the day. “I wanted two dogs, dogs that were bonded, but that was hard to find.” She knew; she had looked.
Then one day she received an e-mail from a friend with the dogs’ photo and story. She immediately called Geri and told her that she just knew that these girls were hers. “They just spoke to me,” she recalls. Yes, hens’ teeth!
She completed the adoption paperwork; arrangements were made; and on May 2 Jessie and Callie no longer had that long, lonely wait for someone—anyone—to come. At last, they were home.
And gourmet cooking to boot. Paulette makes their food herself and is slowly transitioning them from store bought to her own mix, tailored to their dietary needs.
“They are adjusting really well, “she reports. Jessie, the shyer of the two, has really started to come around. They are playful and affectionate. In fact, she reports, “I wake up in the morning to kisses.”