Jedi, the courthouse canine, goes through chemotherapy

SUN-GAZETTE File Photo Jedi, a labrador/golden retriever mix facility dog poses with his handler executive secretary to Judge McCoy Jerri Rook in Judge McCoy's courtroom.

Jedi, the emotional support dog at the Lycoming County Courthouse, who has comforted and calmed so many children and youth going through traumatic situations, now needs support as he faces a cancer diagnosis and the treatments that follow.

Jerri Rook, who owns Jedi with Canine Companions, shared that Jedi has been diagnosed with lymphoma and is receiving chemotherapy.

“He’ll do six months of chemo, and then we’ll have a better idea of how he is going to handle it,” Rook said.

“They can go into remission for up to 18 months, but the cancer will always come back. There is no cure for it. It always comes back,” she said.

“They can be treated depending on how bad it is at that time. Eventually his body will stop responding, and then his quality of life will have to determine how we will proceed,” she added.

Rook explained that Jedi had his first treatment last week.

“It makes him a little sick, a little nauseous,” she said.

“It’s my understanding days two through four are the worst, and that was true for us,” she said. “He had his treatment on Tuesday, and Thursday and Friday he was lethargic. He didn’t want to eat. He showed no interest in anything but water. The weekend was good, he had a little bit more energy. [Monday] was really good.

“[Tuesday] started off good, so we’ll see how it goes,” she said as she and Jedi waited at the vet to be called back to the treatment area for his next round of chemotherapy.

He gets one treatment every week for three weeks, the fourth week he has off. That goes on for six months. At that point, patients usually go into remission, which can last up to 18 months, Rook said.

Jedi, a labrador and golden retriever mix, has been on duty at the courthouse for almost four years, offering emotional support to children and youth encountering the court system.

During his treatment time, Jedi still goes to the courthouse every day with Rook, but now he’s there to receive support from others.

“He does go in with me so that I can keep an eye on him. The staff has been visiting with him, but we’re not working,” she said.

She shared that employees at the courthouse are sad that Jedi is not doing well.

“He’s become part of our courthouse family. This is affecting everyone,” she said, adding, “He is a part of my family.”

Because he works so closely with staff at the county’s Children and Youth Department, Rook said that caseworkers from Children and Youth are coming to see him when they are at the courthouse.

“He’s getting some visitors,” she said.

For Rook, it has been very hard to watch Jedi going through this.

“He’s with me 24/7,” she said. “It’s a little bit different than a pet. I’ve lost two other dogs to cancer, one to Addison’s. I’ve lost pets before, but this guy, we have a bond that a lot of people don’t have with their dogs. It’s hard.”

His treatment cost $1,000 per month. Rook said that they are asking if anyone wants to help defray the expense of his treatments, they should send them to Children and Youth which has taken care of Jedi’s expenses or to the Animal Hospital. She said that she wants all the donations to go for Jedi’s care.

“I don’t want any gifts. I don’t want any flowers or anything like. I want everything donated to go to his care,” she said.


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