A Good Dog
“But life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last” – Prince Rogers Nelson, “1999”
Life is just a little less colorful right now. The oranges and yellows and bright reds vanished last week and remain faded even now.
I said goodbye to Jasmine last Monday night.
Her decline and subsequent death came fast, a week’s time. I foolishly always thought a rather sudden death would be easier than a long, languishing illness. I was wrong.
This hurts. A lot.
For most of the past week I’ve felt as if my heart was being stabbed by a million pieces of jagged, broken glass. I could even visualize the shards. They looked as if they came from a mirror. I’m sure that means something, but it’s too painful to think about it for too long and contemplate the possible symbolism of that.
Today, a week later, I mostly feel hollow. And yet, how is it that a person with a giant hole in their middle can still feel gut-punched by the memories that keep flooding in?
Many of the memories make me smile, albeit sadly. In time, I know they will bring me healing and joy.
And there are so many memories. Someday, I’ll write them out more completely.
Jasmine was a one-of-a kind, canine or otherwise. In reminiscing this week, I’ve realized just how much color she brought to my life, and to many of the lives around her. I can’t possibly recite all of her quirks, adventures, naughty escapades, fears and bigger than life moments.
Jasmine is the dog that voluntarily played with a coyote in a big field on a late April evening.
Jasmine loved to be vacuumed. She would see seek the apparatus out in the early days when I cleaned the house and nose me until I let the hose suck on her fur. She even liked the shop vac.
Jasmine chased off bears and treed two of them.
Jasmine liked to flirt with big intact male dogs. The bigger and uglier they were, they better. She once almost lost her marbles flirting madly with the ugliest Akita I ever met. He was huge and his face looked like that of a prize fighter. Youke was scared to death of him, but I think Jasmine’s flirting bothered him more.
Jasmine had separation anxiety. It was an issue that I worked extensively on with her and eventually counter conditioned her to an acceptable degree. Still, she figured out how to unzip the soft top on my ’99 Jeep Wrangler. Most of the time I could run an errand quickly enough before she’d worked the zipper, but at our first agility trial – where I was so nervous my hands were shaking and unbeknownst to me, she was scared to death – she complete unzipped the top and ran into the arena to find me.
Jasmine would nip at my heels in excitement and push at the back of my knees if I mentioned that we were “going for a ride.” I learned to leap down the stairs to the garage very fast. She also would occasionally nip at the hands of hikers as they walked past us on trails. Most of the time I caught her before she made contact and most people never even noticed. The one time I didn’t catch her in time, the man turned around and exclaimed, after the fact, “Hey that dog just bit me!” He looked at his hand, looked back at Jasmine sitting there smiling at him, and appeared surprised, then realizing that his hand was unhurt, shook his head and went on.
Jasmine also barked ferociously at people if she found them threatening. I’ve never had a lot of door-to-door solicitors stick around as a result. I honestly also believe that her ferocious barking at a man on a lonely trail-head many years ago saved my butt.
Like most dogs, Jasmine did her fair share of running ahead on trails, but most of the time she could be found directly behind me, walking in my tracks. She literally had my back. I will miss that immensely
Jasmine thought playing fetch was the stupidest thing possible. I even tried to teach her with sticks, which she always thought were far better than any stupid Balls. She understood how to play it, she just didn’t see the repetition of going back and forth as being very fun. I gave up even trying anymore with her when Youke decided at six months old that Ball was magical. But when Brady came along and I managed to teach him how to play Ball and taught the boys to take turns, a light bulb went off in Jasmine’s head. Stealing Balls meant for someone else and tackling them in the process to achieve that goal was super fun. As a result, the boys most of the time, and later Camm, learned that when Jasmine was running for the Ball, best to keep the hell out of her way and let her get it. She eventually learned, at the wonderful nine years of age, to bring the Ball back to me. Her reward was generous praise and a pat on the head. All the efforts at trying to teach her the game for food rewards had gotten me nowhere.
Jasmine faithfully picked up my washcloth from the edge of the tub after showers and dropped it in the laundry basket. I did not teach her that behavior. It was also the only laundry she would put in the basket.
I did teach her to track down the finished kongs scattered around the house and to bring them back to me so I could clean them out and refill them.
I’m pretty sure that Jasmine was the only one of my dogs that did not wish to be a single dog. While she did like one-on-one time and attention from me, her most joyful moments where when her entire tribe, canines and human, were together and doing something fun.
Mostly, Jasmine was an incredibly patient and loyal teacher. I often let her down. However, she never gave up on me. For that, I’ll always be thankful and blessed.
Jasmine is the dog that taught me about Dog. Everyone assumes Brady has been my most difficult dog. Not true. It was Jasmine. But without Jasmine, I could never have had Brady in my life.
Jasmine made it clear time and time again, even when I wasn’t listening, that she was my dog. No one else’s. She would share her licks and love, but ultimately, she was my dog. I’m so glad that I finally woke up and realized that.
The house, and life in general, is quieter right now and the other three dogs are also a bit lost right now. They all know she’s gone. With time, we’ll find our way to a more joyful and colorful life again. Jasmine was all about joy and life.
Jasmine was more than a dog. Jasmine was a good dog.