Remembering Jessica, Patron of the Pitties

IMG_3465Last week, we heard that Jessica Coulter-Brown, one of our devoted community members, had passed away from pancreatic cancer. There are no words to express our devastation. Jessica was truly someone who made the world a better, happier, kinder place.

If you ever attended a HugABull event, or applied to adopt a HugABull dog – or did anything with HugABull, really – your life probably intersected with Jessica’s, even if you didn’t know it. She has been an active member of the community for a decade and in every capacity you can name. In preparing to write this post, we searched the HugABull email accounts, looking for photos and special stories about her.

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Bunny, Sage, and Ava, one of Jessica’s many fosters.

We found many. We also found countless emails along these lines:
“Hey Jess, we just had a puppy come into the shelter and there’s nowhere for it to go…”
To which she would respond asking when and where we’d like him to be picked up.

We found PayPal receipts for every major donation drive or fundraising campaign we’d organized over the years.

We found RSVPs to events and group walks, despite the fact that Jess lived in Squamish and had to drive an hour each way. The last time we saw her personally was close to midnight at our Fortune Sound club event last November. She had come by to say hello after her night shift, choosing to come support our event rather than heading to her comfy bed that surely beckoned.

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Bunny, when we first met her in 2007.

She marched in the Pride Parade. She did homechecks. She supported new adopters. And she was a poster child for responsible pet ownership. She had two bully mixes, Bunny, adopted through HugABull in 2006, and Sage, adopted through the SPCA with HugABull’s support in 2008. Both were dogs that needed help. Bunny had an advanced case of mange and Sage was from an SPCA seizure involving a momma dog and Sage’s littermates. Jessica offered both of them a place to heal and thrive, and both are healthy, happy, exceptionally well-trained dogs today.

Bunny today.

Bunny today.

Jessica was active, happy, and giving. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that her boundless positive energy is no longer with us. We have all been under a cloud of grief since we heard the news. When we sent a message to her husband, Paul, he told us that her instructions to friends and family were to direct donations to HugABull in lieu of flowers. This last gesture moved us to tears – it shows the capacity of this woman’s heart, right up to the end.

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Jessica and baby Sage.

There’s no question that Jess will be missed and mourned by family and friends, and by all of us on a personal level. She was a joy to be around. We will always remember her, and she will always be part of our organization. Working with this breed can mean facing negativity and stigma, and the only way to respond is from a place of love. Jessica exemplified this, nurturing individual animals in need and supporting positive education and advocacy at the same time. That love will live on forever – in our hearts, and in every family that she helped make whole.

Her life was too short but she made a difference to many. May we all be fortunate enough to do that.

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Jess and foster dog Rosie.

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