I write with a heavy heart today as the other day one of our furry little companions, Jasper the Wonder Dog, died.
He was one of our little clan, part of our family, but before that ,when I was a carefree single girl, he was my housemate, my bro, my little pal who always kept me safe and in good spirits.
When it was just he and I hanging out, it was he that I would look forward to seeing at the end of the day.
Jasper and I used to have a routine of late night walks. I was trying to find my way through a very dark period in my life, and somehow walking, under the cover of darkness I would feel invisible whilst it felt like the world slept. With Jasper by my side, through the shadows of my neighbourhood, I was able to battle with the horrible demons in my head and in my heart and become light and free once more.
Jasper was an amber coloured frizz ball, just one big orange 'fro with fluffy pantaloons and a fox like face that could appear deliriously happy one moment and devilishly cheeky the next.
In long grass he entertained delusions that he was a gazelle or antelope and he would gracefully leap above the grass, over and over, whilst I laughed so hard I cried at the sight of him.
When I first started to work in my current job I would bring him with me to work as a form of pet therapy, and the residents unanimously loved him; even people unable to speak or express themselves effectively could express love and joy towards my funny dog who only seemed to want to make people happy. The residents, if they were able, would throw a ball, and Jasper would happily fetch and bring it back to them. I'm sure he understood that he needed to be on his best behaviour with these special people. (At home Jasper was much more likely to steal the ball and go and have a good chew of it under a bush for a few hours.) With residents who weren't able to take part in the game of fetch, Jasper would gently sidle up to them and rest his soft head against their knee so they could pat him. If they were good and gave him a pat he would reward them with a quick lick on their hand.
Whilst he was so tender with my residents, he had none of that charm towards children in the early days before I had children of my own. Jasper was always a bit nervous and was particularly highly strung around rowdy children. Never aggressive towards the kids that visited, just occasionally a bit... um... hormonally charged. There was a time when a toddler was bending down in front of Jasper and he decided to be very "friendly" with the child and mounted the poor mite!
He was a dog of simple tastes and loved nothing more than rolling in rotten fruit that would fall from our trees. Or sitting with a bone in his mouth, not chewing it, just sitting there, proud of his trophy. And oh how he loved to dig a hole! The side of our house was one big dirt pile because Jasper was excavating the area, and instead of sleeping in his nice cosy kennel, he preferred to sleep in his dug-out. ( I prefer to think he liked to sleep in the dirt because it was under our bedroom window)
Jasper also liked to dig under the fence and venture into the big bad world, exploring the unfamiliar terrain behind our house and having adventures on his own. Eventually Jasper's exciting day out would end with him being caught and us receiving a call that he was in the pound, waiting to be picked up - once we'd paid the exorbitant fee to release our runaway. Oh we'd scold him and repair the fence again and again, sure that there was no possible way that a small fluffy dog could outwit us and escape, and every time he would astound us with his Houdini like ways.
He was old, deaf, blind, VERY smelly, fur falling out, and most likely mad, but still he was the sweet natured boy who had kept me company, just him and me so long ago.
And now he is gone, but will always be with us, as he sleeps his forever sleep under a nectarine tree in our yard. (council laws be damned!)
Jasper will always be with us in spirit, but oh how I miss him right now!
I apologise for the heavy subject matter, but I found writing my memories of Jasper so cathartic and healing. This blog is my way of recording all those precious, momentous, but also mundane and sometimes heartbreaking moments that make up this crazy ride we are on. I am sure that almost everyone out there has shared the pain of losing a pet and understand my need to share how great a friend Jasper was.