Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jasper -- A Sad, Sad Day

Jasper 12-24-99 - 1-15-11

Roger here....   Ten years ago...  Our daughters grew up, graduated,  and moved out of the house.   We were happy, but there was a definite void in our lives.

Within the year, we drove to Bloomington IN.  In the parking lot at the Indiana University Football Stadium, we met Jasper for the first time.  He was nine months old and living with a grad student at Indiana University.  

The young man who owned Jasper wisely realized that he was too busy to care for a dog that was so full of life.  Jasper became an integral part of our lives from that moment.

On the way home, we stopped at a pet store to buy the essentials for taking care of a dog.  Dianne went into the store while I walked Jasper around the parking lot.  I will never forget how he looked at me during that first walk with those big brown eyes.  We bonded instantly.

When we opened the doors of our house to him, he immediately bounded up the two flights of stairs, rarely touching the steps.  We watched in amazement as he leaped OVER (not on) the bed.  Our boney, skinny-looking dog with the hind legs you could see through on a sunny day was an athlete.

When we went to bed that night, he did not hesitate to hop up and burrow his way under the covers where he warmed our feet -- a nightly ritual for the next ten years.

Jasper loved me, but he adored Dianne.  He quickly became her shadow, and remained so.  One day, I took him off his leash while hiking in the woods a couple miles from our house.  He gave me one of those brown-eyed looks and went into a 35 mph sprint.  No way for me to catch him.  He made his way straight home to Dianne.  

He loved to run - to chase squirrels, to leap over flower beds, to chase tennis balls (when he was in the mood).  Unlike most whippets, he also loved to swim.  
He was not a good swimmer, but any time there was activity near the water he joyfully leaped in as if he were a labrador.  He never met a person he did not like, running up to strangers while wagging his tail and begging for attention.  (He was not a good guard dog.) 

 He was so very, very gentle with our granddaughter, Kaia, during her toddler years.  I have vivid memories of her leading him around the house on his leash, while he remained so calm and patient and walked so-o-o slowly beside her.

We loved Jasper so much, that we found Chaplin a couple years later.  Chaplin is a sweet, gentle, fun dog who has been a good companion for all of us (including Jasper).  However, from the outset, it was evident that Jasper would be the alpha male -- a role that Chaplin readily acceded to.  Jasper's role at the dog park became one of intervening with the other dogs if (in Jasper's mind) they became too rough with his dog, Chaplin. 

Jasper always considered himself to be a person.  (Dianne and I did, too.)  

Jasper was not without his faults :-).  He was an expert at stealing Chaplin's treats (and ours).  If we forgot to put the cat food away, as soon as we closed the door, he would immediately leap onto the console of the motor home, where he licked the bowl clean.  He often knocked over the trash can, but he would always wait until we left the room. 

 He did not bark often, but if a large dog or a raccoon (and in one case an armadillo) got too close to the campsite he did not hesitate to run them off. 

 He was an expert counter surfer. One evening, after work, when Dianne and I were enjoying a walk around the yard, the two chicken breasts that were thawing at the back of the counter disappeared.  There was no evidence that they had ever been on the counter other than a very clean, empty plate.  We soon found Jasper in the corner of the family room, head lowered, tail between his legs, looking at us with doleful brown eyes.  It was hard to be angry with him.

Two weeks ago Dianne noticed blood in his urine.  Since he was acting perfectly normal, we were not that concerned - the internet led us to believe that it was probably a bladder infection. We took him to the vet, that day.  We were devastated to learn that he had a large tumor on one of his kidneys.  An x-ray revealed that the cancer had spread to his lungs.  We knew that there was no hope.   The vet was surprised that he was doing so well.  He was not in any kind of visible distress, so we brought him home, where he received more table food and coddling than he has ever had in his life.  (Actually, he has always received a lot of coddling).

We were blessed with two weeks of the Jasper that we have always known.  Perky ears, curiosity, those intelligent eyes, prancing along during his walks -- always insisting on taking the lead.  We also had the mischievious Jasper  -- stolen cat food from the console, stolen treats from Chaplin, trash can surfing.

Two days ago at the dog park he chased Chaplin doing a full-blown 35 mph run.  So glorious, yet so sad.  It was a great day.  It was his last good day.

We knew yesterday morning that he had gone into a rapid decline.  By the middle of the day, he could hardly walk.  On the way to the vet's office, he licked my hand.  His last view before passing was of Dianne's face.

Writing this is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I am writing this because it is too difficult for Dianne to do so.  Selfishly, it is also therapeutic for me.  We have lost pets before and are familiar with the pain, but this is different; Jasper was much more to us than a pet.

We'll get back to our regular, hopefully upbeat, posts in a few days.

By the way, our blog name will not change, because Jasper's spirit will always be traveling with us.


The Bright's said...

So sorry for your loss of Jasper. Your memorial post brought tears to my eyes. It was done so beautifully, taking us all through Jaspers wonderful life and your wonderful times with him.
I've had to say good-bye to 5 dogs in the past years, and they were family, so it was so very sad. Many people dont understand the intense grieving involved in losing a pet. But regardless of whether they are labeled an animal or human... if they are family, it hurts just as much.
Thank you for sharing your pain as well as your joy. I found that writing was therapy for me as well.
~Sheryl Bright

Linda said...

Oh my, I have tears in my eyes, we are so saddened by Jasper's death. What a touching story about his life and death. RIP dear one! Bob and Linda

K and D in the RV said...

we are so very sorry that you have lost your beloved Jasper. Your spot today was a lovely tribute to him. Thank you for sharing this us, your readers and fellow rv bloggers and dog lovers.

Maggie Rae said...

My heart goes out to both of you, and Chapin too. What a beautiful tribute, thank you for sharing his life with us..

It's so hard to loose a family member and friend and our pets are family and friend. I'm sorry you have to weather this sad time.


John and Ellen said...

Roger and Dianne, we are so very sorry to learn of your loss. Losing a loving pet is never ever easy. We have been in the same position ourselves and I can tell you that we think of our past friends every day of the week. Thanks for sharing, it was a wonderful tribute.


Donna aka Froggi said...

I am so, so sorry to hear the news. Your beautiful post about Jasper brought tears to my eyes. He was obviously loving and well loved. Hugs!!

Nancy said...

In Loving Memory of

Somewhere there is a garden
Where good dogs go to play.
From here you cannot see it,
It is too far away.

Somewhere there is a garden
Where sun shines every day
And puppies romp within its warmth
And never want to stray.

Somewhere there is a garden
With water clear and free,
And dishes never empty,
And kibble grows on trees!

Somewhere there is a garden
Where fear and pain are past,
Where crippled dogs are whole again
And worn out limbs made fast.

Somewhere there is a garden
Where angels throw the toys
That good dogs fetch and carry
And know remembered joys.

Somewhere there is a garden
Where good dogs go to play.
It's the place that I call Heaven
And look forward day.

Sandy Simons

Roger & Dianne,

A friend sent me this poem 3 years ago when Max, our black lab, died of bone cancer...only 6 years old. The thought of him playing in heaven helped me get through the horrible pain. I hope this can help you! I'm so sorry for your loss.

Nancy Gill Smith

Karen and Al said...

I am so sorry for the loss of Jasper. What a wonderful tribute to him. He sounded like such a wonderful dog. I always loved seeing the pictures of them sleeping together.

It's always difficult losing a pet and I wish I could say something that would ease your pain. Unfortunately, I can't. He was a lucky dog to have had such a wonderful home.

Gin and Syl said...

We are so very sorry to hear about Jasper. As hard as it was to read your post, I can't fathom how difficult it was for you to write it. We've been moms to several furkids and can relate to many of the emotions that you are going through now. Rub Chaplin behind the ears and consider this a long distant hug from both of us.
Syl & Gin

harold.hutchens said...

I was saddened to read of Jasper's passing. Our pets bring so much pleasure to our lifes.


Nancy and Bill said...

We are so sorry for your loss. We know this is a difficult time, but we thank you for sharing Jasper's life with us. What you wrote brought tears to our eyes, but a smile to our hearts. Jasper was a wonderful, a wonderful family member. We know you will miss him dearly.

Mike and Terri said...

We're so terribly sorry to hear of your loss of Jasper. Your tribute to him is lovely. We've lost several pets over the years and can fully relate to how heartbroken you are. Jasper will always remain in your heart. God bless you both.

heyduke50 said...

sorry to hear about jasper...

Margie and Roger said...

Oh, I am so sorry to read about you losing Jasper. It was such a beautiful story of your life with him, and his love for you. I can't imagine a life without a dog, like your Jasper. They certainly bring such joy to our lives.

Wayne and Maureen said...

I believe those who have allowed their hearts to be touched by their pets feel loss at such a greater level...It is at times like these that we realized how much better we have become because of them.

Whippet Lover said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I have 2 whippets myself and do not know how I will deal with it when the day comes that they pass to the bridge. There is something about whippets that touches your heart much more than other breeds. You wrote a beautiful tribute to Jasper. I pray that your pain is eased quickly. I know it never goes away. I keep telling my kids they have to stay till they are 20 or 30. We can dream.

John and Judy said...

We are so sorry for the loss of your beloved Jasper. I too had to wipe away the tears after reading your wonderful tribute.

Judy and John

Anonymous said...

To all of you my very deepest condolences on Jasper's passing. I have been reading your posts for a long time and became hooked because of the name. I also have whippets and have enjoyed reading your blog and in particular what the boys have been up to.

Thank you for sharing the story of Jasper. It was very touching.

Deb Martin

GrannySue said...

What a beautiful tribute. We travel with out three whippets and I can't imagine your sorrow. What a wonderful life you gave Jasper and there is no way to describe the wonder he brought to your lives.

Valerie said...

Roger and Dianne, so sorry to read the news about Jasper. Your loving tribute made me stop and think fondly about the pets in my life, past and present. I love the picture of Jasper and Chapin lying head-to-head.
Take care,

Anonymous said...

I have just logged onto your site and I'm in tears reading about Jasper. You must remember that you gave him the best of everything he could wish for and that is all anyone or any dog can ever ask.
I have a whippet, my first ever, Midnight, he lives with my , now 2 labs, I lost a lab in November and several over the years before that. Do your best to carry on , do please get another whippet, he or she will never replace your loss but there is one out there that needs a home like yours. God bless you all.