The following article is from "The Valley View" newspaper in Seattle:
At the age of twelve, Vanessa Goodell realized that her family had a problem. Their rambunctious Portuguese water dog was jerking on his leash and had damaged her mom's shoulder. Her mom was unable to use that arm and was in considerable pain. To return her beloved dog, Nemo, to the family's good graces, Vanessa talked with her dad about creating a device that would minimize the damaging stress from sudden tugs on the leash. She wanted to create a "shock abosorber" that would go between a dog's collar and leash.
Vanessa was off on a journey that held quite a few surprises. Her first prototype device was created using a short elastic cord and hardware taken from a standard dog leash. The cord stretched and absorbed the jerks on the leash to within safe parameters. After extensive testing, Vanessa found that the Jerk-Ease worked well with all types of leashes, collars and harnesses, including retractable leashes. However, it was visually unappealing. Vanessa is a girl who appreciates attractive objects, so she embarked on a series of attempts to improve the "look" of the device. After many revisions (and MANY months), the design for the product knowin today as the "Jerk-Ease Leash Attachment" was finished. Now came the hard part: bringing it to market.
Vanessa and her father initially envisioned selling the Jerk-Ease on weekends at dog parks, setting up a sort of "glorified lemonade stand." However, after talking with several experts, they realized that the Jerk-Ease was a unique device and possibly eligible for a patent. The patent attorney told them that they had "opened a new door in the dog world," explained Vanessa laughing.
After receiving glowing endorsements for their new device from veterinarians, physicians, chiropractors, professional dog trainers, and pet store owners, they worked with the Golden Lasso advertising agency to design the packaging and a promotional brochure. Finally, they enlisted the support of a manufacturer's representative to place the Jerk-Ease in stores. "WOW!" marveled Vanessa. "I couldn't believe how many steps and people it takes to bring a product to market!"
The following is from a news article about the accident that killed Vanessa on December 5, 2008:
Two Bend residents were killed in a car accident on the Bend Parkway late Friday night.
Just after 11 p.m., Geoffrey Keller, 22, was driving east on Southwest Powers Road when he failed to stop at a red light at the intersection with the Bend Parkway, according to a news release from the Bend Police Department.
Once the car entered the intersection, a southbound semi-truck hit the vehicle.
Vanessa Goodell, 19, was the passenger in the vehicle, a green Subaru Impreza. Both Kelly and Goodell were pronounced dead at the scene, according to Bend Police.
Edith Fernandez, 31, of Stockton, Calif., who was driving the Freightliner truck, tried to stop but was unable to do so, police said. Speed does not appear to be a cause of the accident, according to a news release from the Police Department.
The Police Department closed the section of the parkway until about 5:30 a.m., according to police.
The police do not expect to issue any citations in the accident.
Goodell started a new job in October, working at a Sprint retail store in Bend. Even though she’d worked at the store as a sales representative for just over a month, she impressed her co-workers, according to Pat Deniger, who worked with Goodell.
“She was very personable, very well mature for her age,” said Deniger, 28. “It was like talking to someone my age.”
While both Keller and Goodell lived in Bend, their families lived out of state, Bend Police Sgt. Andy Homan said.
Keller’s family lives in Colorado. No other information was available about Keller.
Homan said Goodell’s family lives in Washington state.
“It’s just a tragedy,” Homan said.
Additional magazine and newspaper articles about the "Jerk-Ease" have appeared throughout the country. Click below to see some examples: