This man had, sadly, come to the end of his road. When his family gathered to say their final farewell to their loved one, they brought with them man’s best friend. In a truly heartbreaking scene, the loyal dog visited his bedside to say her final goodbye, alongside the rest of his family.
Ryan Jessen, 33, was a landscape designer from California. About seven years ago, Ryan found a stray dog in a cemetery located near his parents’ home. Ryan’s sister Michelle said the dog was a “little flea-bitten puppy” when he first found her. But during their six years together, Ryan and the boxer dog named Mollie formed a lifelong bond.
Unfortunately, in 2016, Ryan suffered from what he believed was a migraine. Sadly, it turned out he had a ventricular brain hemorrhage, which left him hospitalized in Rideout Memorial Hospital, Marysville. Here a ventilator supported him in his coma. But eventually, the day came when his family would have to say goodbye to their loved one.
Ryan’s sudden hospitalization is thought to be linked to his high blood pressure. This combined with his love of energy drinks could, possibly, have contributed to the brain hemorrhage. However, this is merely speculation by the doctors. Michelle explained to Today, “It would be nice to be able to blame something, but we can’t. We don’t have answers.”
On November 30, 2016, his mother, father and sister gathered to say their final farewell to Ryan. And, it wouldn’t have been a family goodbye without his loyal dog Mollie by his side. Luckily, the hospital staff agreed with the family’s request and allowed the animal to come with them.
Michelle explained the family’s heartwarming idea of bringing the dog to the hospital to Today. She stated, “Just realizing that my brother is not going to wake up, it was obviously upsetting.” She added, “We wanted the dog to have closure. We wanted to make sure she understood.”
Michelle captured the heartbreaking scene. She later posted the video on Facebook, allowing Ryan’s other friends and family to be part of the goodbye, and, of course, to witness the dog’s final moments with her owner. Michelle wrote, “Rideout Memorial hospital did the sweetest thing for us and allowed us to bring my brother’s dog in to ‘say goodbye,’ so she’d know why her human never came home.” She added, “If you knew my brother, he really loved his sweet dog.”
Michelle told Today, “[Ryan] was a very sweet person, and we’re all dog lovers. Mollie’s reaction normally would’ve been to run up and jump on him and be super excited, and she was very hesitant the way she reacted to him [at the hospital].” Indeed, Mollie seemed to understand the sadness in the room as she sniffed uncertainly around her owner, her tail between her legs. Ryan’s parents held her up to him so she could be at his side, even lifting her fully onto the bed, bringing her close to her owner for one last time.
Many people who have viewed the video wanted to thank the hospital for allowing Mollie to say farewell to her owner. Pat Kynerd Thomas wrote, “Thank you for sharing this sweet story of love between your brother and his dog! I’m so glad the hospital allowed the dog to say goodbye.”
Unfortunately, not all hospitals are quite as inviting. Indeed, Shelby Hennick’s grandmother, who was hospitalized due to a bad reaction to her medication, desperately wanted to see her dog, Patsy. She was missing her pet badly, but hospital rules forbade a visit unless the dog was a service animal.
Shelby wasn’t going to give up just yet though. As a veterinary technician, she was aware that the presence of the pooch could provide comfort and healing that some hospital treatments couldn’t. So she went to her grandmother’s house and picked up Patsy, her mind already formulating a plan to get her inside.
Thankfully, Patsy is a small dog, so Shelby’s plan worked perfectly. Wrapping her up in a blanket and disguising her as a baby, the 21-year-old held her grandmother’s dog in her arms. Successfully, she snuck the animal into the hospital room, reuniting the pet with her owner. And it was definitely worth it for her grandmother’s reaction.
Patsy’s reunion with her owner went viral. When Shelby Hennick tweeted the pictures, they gained more than a million retweets. And more than 2,000 people commented, most to support her actions. One user, @vable, wrote, “I really wish I could have done that with my grandma before she died, she loved her dog so much and we tried to sneak him in but couldn’t.”
The video of Mollie has also received an amazing reaction online. Not only has it triggered love and support from people who knew Ryan, but also viewers from all around the world. Some of whom even shared their own stories of loss. Michelle stated, “Thank you to everybody for the outpouring of support… We are sincerely touched and humbled by others’ stories, their sharing in our sadness and the kindness of so many people.”
Ryan’s memory does not end with his death though. His family will, of course, hold him in their hearts forevermore. Not only this but Ryan’s death has left something behind for other people in need. Ryan’s organs will live on in other people on the organ donor waiting list. Michelle explained, “At noon today, we release him, with gratitude, to give the gift of life through the organ donor program to waiting recipients.”
Many people following the tale, via Michelle’s Facebook, were heartened by this news. One user, Stephanie Scott Proffitt, shared her story. She wrote, “My husband’s organs were donated and the few that decided to reveal who they were and sent thank you cards, made it so worth the decision to donate.”
In December the same year, the family received news regarding the fate of one of Ryan’s organs. Michelle posted on the first of the month, “A 17-year-old boy in CA, whose birthday is on Christmas, will receive my brother’s heart today. As sad as it is to lose Ryan, we know his heart is going to bring so much joy to the family of the recipient. I wish Ryan could know what a difference his heart will make for that young man.”
As for Mollie, she is still very much part of the Jessen family. She joins two other dogs, Bella and Zander, living at Ryan’s parents’ home in Sutter, CA. Michelle explained to concerned Facebook users, “Don’t worry about the dog! We’re keeping her!!! She’s part of the family.” When she spoke to Today, Michelle added, “She will continue to love Ryan vicariously through our family. People are very worried about the dog, and we couldn’t fathom not having her.”
To keep up to date with what Mollie is up to with her new four-legged friends, Facebook users can visit the “Deviant Dog” page. A picture captioned, “Living a life of luxury,” which shows Mollie sprawled out in an armchair suggests she has settled in well in her new home. Yet, Ryan’s mother Laurie Ann Hickenlooper Jessen explained, “Mollie will miss her doggy daddy.” And with a bond like Ryan and Mollie’s this is understandable.
In fact, on March, 24 this year, Ryan’s mother commemorated what would have been her son’s 34th birthday with a collection of photos. Many of them, unsurprisingly, featured his loyal pup Mollie in his arms. On that day this year, the dog was photographed curled up on the sofa. Laurie Ann wrote, “Boss Mollie is not alone. Her adopted brother and labrastaffie, Zander, shared a rare luxurious nap on the love-seat for Daddy Ryan’s forever 33 birthday.”