Jester was a ‘poundie’ saved on his last day, three weeks before Christmas 2004. He arrived at a friend’s house to spend a couple of days before going to a rescue shelter, as they had no room to take him immediately. As he stepped out of the van I was moved to tears by his state. He was emaciated and very quiet. He sat in front of my 6-year-old son and me and gratefully accepted the schmackos we had brought for him.
He was obviously in a state of shock but walked away to the kennel as quiet as a lamb. The following day I took my husband to meet him and watched as he followed my friend around the enclosure and gracefully loped to me for a cuddle.
I could see every bone in his body and he cringed if I moved my hands too fast or too close to his head. He had obviously been mistreated and definitely starved. His history at this point wasn’t clear except that he had been picked up on the streets of a city where he had been surviving for maybe three or four months. That night my friend rang to ask if I could foster him at my house as he was howling & barking to come inside, as she has seven dogs and could not let him inside. I already had two Rottie bitches &and a Ridgeback bitch but said yes.
When I collected him he didn’t wait until the back of my Frontera had come down, he climbed up into the open back window and waited quietly. As I drove home along the country lanes I thought to myself: " What am I doing? I have this huge male Rottie stood in the back of the car - no dog guard - what if he goes nuts?" We arrived home and my husband came out to meet us. Jester stood cautiously on the door ramp before jumping out and a little warily, said hello to Paul.
We took him straight upstairs and Paul lifted him in to the bath - he just sat there and we washed all the dirt, filth and muck from his coat until the water was black and very smelly. He looked bemused but relieved to be clean &and he never once showed an ounce of aggression or fear or anything. We then took him downstairs to meet the dogs. Kali first, then Jinx & finally Savannah. They each in turn ran at him and barked in his face before turning away from him. Each time, he simply turned his head away from them in deference and, to be honest, exhaustion too.
As we were only fostering him I arranged for someone to come and see him with a view to giving him a home. After the family had gone I cried because I thought that they wanted him, we all felt terrible. He had already got under our skin. Luckily the family decided it wasn’t the right time and we as a family decided that we just couldn’t part with him. He had joined the family.
I took him to my vets and asked them to scan him for a microchip to make sure that no one was searching for him, as he was such a beautiful dog I couldn’t believe that he didn’t have a loving home somewhere. They scanned and sure enough he had a chip. The vets called the company who ascertained that his previous owner had been homeless for a while but had now gone into a hostel for drunks where dogs were not permitted.
So it seems he had just dumped Jester on the streets instead of asking a rescue centre to find him a home. It was decided due to the state he was in and the previous owner abandoning him and having no home that Jester could not and should not go back to him. The owner had not reported him as missing, so he was clearly not wanted any more.
He weighed 38 kg, had kennel cough and could not tolerate more than a tiny portion of food so was having 5 small meals a day. He also had several wounds around his neck and a great big chain collar that had rubbed his bony shoulders.
He had been given the name ‘Bear’ at the pound so we let him choose his own name by going through the alphabet and at the letter J he turned his head. I then tried several J sounding names and he approached me at the name Jester.
He had a broken tooth and was terrified of shiny food bowls especially if it moved whilst he was eating so can only imagine that he or his bowl was kicked whilst eating.
After about a week of him going berserk at my cats I finally trained him so that when they entered the room he would lie down and get a treat. A week later and the cats could curl up to sleep with him. He loved to curl up on the settee with me in the evening and snored his head off but it was wonderful that he could trust me so much so quickly.
When we had taken photographs, he had freaked out at the camera flash. He was also obsessed with torchlights and any shining lights so we believed he had been teased badly to the point of obsession. He also sat on his haunches to beg so maybe he had been begging on the streets with his owner who made people laugh by getting Jester to chase a light beam. Not Funny.
He just fitted in as if he had always been with us. He came to work with us every day. He would walk around the industrial estate off lead and followed me wherever I went. He didn’t know how to run and it took him weeks to fully extend and run free. He was extremely gentle around the children and wouldn’t get into his bed if it meant disturbing one of the cats that might have already been in it. He adored footballs; they were his passion and squeaky toys too.
On a Sunday morning he was allowed on the bed in between Paul and I where he would lie with his head on the pillow, all 4 feet in the air and snore with contentment. As my neighbour put it - after about a week in the house he finally breathed the biggest sigh of relief and he put most of his past behind him he believed he was home.
The following months brought Jester and I a bigger bond of trust, love and understanding. He was a true gentleman. All my dogs bonded with him in different ways and he left a huge gap in their lives too when he was killed.
He had been my guardian angel whilst my husband had been away in Cumbria and he was killed 2 days before he retuned. The day he vanished he had just taught me a huge lesson about trust which made me smile and then he just took a look at me and vanished into the trees forever.
His loss has devastated my life and my family‘s too. The children still recall when Jester did this or when Jester did that and they miss him dreadfully. His loss has spurred me to start the Jesters Law Campaign which has already achieved so much but still has so much more to do.
He would never have left my side let alone stayed away from my side without someone intervening which indeed someone must have, as the body had no collar on at all when it was seen. I will never know what happened to his collar as no one is going to come forward with it now.
His life with me was short but had the biggest impact on me and indeed the country now for dog owners. He will remain in my heart forever and his legacy will live on.
* Anyone wanting further information about aspects of Jester’s Law can contact Nikki Powditch on Nickspea@aol.com or 01664 464529