Jasper and me were buddies. I rescued the incorrigible mutt from the shelter almost eight years ago.
I was feeling lonely the day I met Jasper. It was moving day for my “then-girlfriend” of two chaotic years. I figured it was best to be out of my apartment by the time the Uhaul arrived.
So, I took a drive to the suburbs eager to test once again the advice my mother had crammed into my thick skull since childhood:
“Feeling sorry for yourself? Go do something nice for someone who needs it.”
Instead of visiting Gran, which was my honest-to-God intention, I saw a sign that read: “King of Hearts Animal Shelter.” I put on the breaks, did an illegal 3-point turn on the road, and pulled into the gates of the shelter.
I registered at the desk, with the sole purpose of playing with an orphaned dog. I figured I would cheer up a pup or two, and then head over to Gran’s house in time to bring her lunch. (That didn’t happen).
I walked the long aisles of the cages, I oohed and aahed at the dogs—large and small, and then I saw Jasper. He was aloof, sitting in his enclosure and merely glancing at me as I walked by. The other dogs ran up to greet me, barking, jumping, and all excited. Not Jasper.
I admit I’m a sucker for the hard-to-get relationship; I love a challenge. To be fair, I’m cocky. After all, who could resist my charms? Who wouldn’t love me?
I requested playtime with Jasper and waited while they brought him out to the picnic bench where I parked myself in the shelter’s yard. Jasper was low energy, and there was something in his look that told me, “not interested.”
The volunteer left us together, and I got down on the hard ground to be at Jasper’s level.
“Hey, buddy – how do you like this fellah?” as I rubbed him behind his ears and petted his tangled coat.
His immediate response was to raise his hind leg and wee-wee right on my kneeling thigh.
Yep, Jasper was like that – he never suffered any fools.
Wet and embarrassed, yet mightily impressed by his attitude, I made arrangements to adopt him.
We had a lot of laughs together, and more good times in the years we spent together.
This morning Jasper and I went for a walk. As usual, Jasper insisted on the off-leash experience while he explored the neighborhood.
An ordinary gray squirrel got the best of my friend. Jasper chased him up a tree and patiently waited for his next move. The squirrel leaped into the street, and Jasper followed. The next thing I saw was a delivery truck slamming on the brakes…too late.
Jasper was critically injured. He whimpered softly and attempted to lick his wounds. I went to him and scooped him up in my arms.
“It’s okay Jasper. You’ll be fine. We’ll get help.”
But I was losing him, and we both knew it.
Soon it was me who was being consoled. Jasper started licking my tears, and I let him. With every swipe of his ever-weakening tongue, I cried harder.
The driver of the truck asked me how he could help. I shooed him away.
My focus was solely on Jasper, and what I knew would be our last few minutes together in an earthly realm.
It was a peaceful passing. God released Jasper from his pain, and I waited as my brave dog ascended to meet his Maker.
When you’re feeling blue, do something nice for someone who needs it.
I think I’ll take a ride to the suburbs and visit Gran. I should be able to make it by dinner time.
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Author Talks: Don’t be sad; this story is pure fiction with only a slight reference to a real event. One sunny Sunday, my husband and I went to the animal shelter to adopt a dog. David had his eye on a cocky mutt and asked the volunteer to bring him out for playtime. You guessed it – when David sat on the ground to pet him, the dog responded by lifting his leg and peeing directly on David’s lap. Unlike Jasper in the story, this particular dog did not get adopted that day by us.
– Susan Diamond