‘He’s a part of me’: Facility dog’s cancer diagnosis is a heavy blow

When Jerri Rook became Jedi’s handler, she didn’t expect to be treating him for stage 5 Lymphoma just over four years later. 

Rook is an animal lover and has had many dogs through the years. She has even seen a few of them pass away, but her bond with Jedi is unique. As a Lycoming Courthouse facility dog, Jedi not only lives with Rook, but comes to work with her as well. 

The pair share an office and visit with victims of abuse together. Rook and Jedi can often be seen walking along the streets surrounding the courthouse. 

“He’s a part of me. I never expected at 5 years old we would be treating him for cancer,” Rook said. 

Stage 5 Lymphoma is a cancer within Jedi’s cells and can only be treated by chemotherapy. However, there is no cure for his disease. After the Chemo, there could be 12 to 13 months of remission, but eventually his body will stop reacting to treatments and his quality of life may suffer. 

Rook will need to make the hard decision about when to let him go. Depending how he responds to treatment, Rook hopes that Jedi will be able to return to work for a time, as his health permits. 

Jedi’s work at the courthouse is important, Rook said, adding that she will work to bring another dog into the program when Jedi is no longer strong enough to work. 

Jedi came to the Lycoming County courthouse in 2017 after heavy advocating from Judge Joy McCoy about the emotional support a facility dog could provide to victims within the courthouse, helping them to be at ease during tough testimony or hearings. Rook, McCoy’s secretary, was the obvious choice to be the primary handler for the dog. 

Over the years, Jedi has become more than just a therapy dog for victims, he is a part of the community. Since his diagnosis many members of the community have voiced their support and donations for Jedi’s treatment are pouring in, Rook said. 

Donations can be sent to the Lycoming County Children and Youth, with care of Jedi in the memo line. Jedi’s cancer treatment is $1,000 per month and he will need to continue it for six months.

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  • On the PULSE is an online media outlet in Northcentral, Pennsylvania. We specialize in in-depth journalism, human interest content and video features. Our mission is to build engagement in community through local news.

On the PULSE

On the PULSE is an online media outlet in Northcentral, Pennsylvania. We specialize in in-depth journalism, human interest content and video features. Our mission is to build engagement in community through local news.