A Writer Donates Book Proceeds to Veterinary Scholarship
by Marcia Hill Gossard '99, '04
Jill and Jessie
Whenever Jill Strickler walked into the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital with her dog "Jessie" they would always hear "Hi, Jessie Strickler" from a staff member behind the reception desk. "Jessie," a blond Cocker Spaniel coming for cancer treatments, would give a quick bark in reply.
"Jessie loved going there even though not such pleasant things were happening to her," said Jill Strickler, Jessie’s owner and a published writer.
In 2003 when Jessie was 6 years old she became critically ill after being bitten by a tick. Her liver failed, but with devoted care she recovered. Then, just a few years later she was diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer that had spread in her already weakened body. For nearly a year and a half Jill and Jessie would make the trip from Spokane to Pullman to get regular checkups and cancer treatments.
"Everyone went way beyond the call of duty," said Strickler. "When we thought we were out of options, Dr. Tripp would come up with other things to try. That gave Jessie and me a lot of time."
Jessie passed away in May 2009 at the age of 11 after a hard-fought battle. Moments before she died of heart failure in the ICU, a resident put out a call for help. When Jill walked in she found more than 30 WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital residents, interns, and staff veterinarians standing near Jessie and crying.
"I wanted to repay the amazing gift they gave us with a scholarship to help students follow their dreams and become veterinarians to help pets like Jessie," said Strickler.
So Jill established The Jessie Strickler Scholarship to support WSU veterinary residents and interns. But as a writer, Jill knew she could do even more. She decided to write a series of books to honor Jessie and everyone who cared for her at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. All the proceeds from the books go toward the scholarship.
"Jingle Bell Bride," which came out in late 2012, is the first book in the series. The sisters in the book were named for Jessie’s veterinarians at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The book is also dedicated to Dr. Chelsea Tripp, a former WSU veterinary resident who is currently on staff at the Animal Medical Center of Seattle. There are many other references about WSU to spot in the book.
Sticklers’ hope is to write at least 20 additional books as part of the series for each veterinarian, resident, and intern who cared for Jessie. Her next book in the series is due out later in 2013.
"The kind of love they gave Jessie is an amazing thing," said Strickler. "I’ll never forget the amazing kindness given to the dog I loved so much."
When this profile was written in early 2013, six $1000 awards had been given to an intern or resident in oncology or cardiology since it was established in 2010. To make a donation go to The Jessie Strickler Scholarship.