Jasper (AKA ‘The Friendly Toast’, ‘Mr. Bo-Jasper”, ‘Mr. Bo-J’, ‘Jaspie’, and many more) came into my life in 2004. I was a volunteer at the Humane Society in Central Oregon, spending at least an hour a day at the shelter or on outreach working with the dogs, walking them, and showing them for adoption. It was January and Jasper came in as a stray. He was approximately 3-4 months old and Karen, one of the shelter managers, guessed that he was an Irish Wolfhound cross. I took him outside to the yard and sat with him. For a pup, he was very calm and he looked at me with his big amber eyes and stole my heart away.
Now, I already had three dogs – Splatter, Spudley, and little Booh, and Booh was elderly and had medical issues. So I thought long and hard about adopting Jasper (I knew his name the moment I first laid eyes of him). But, since he already had a piece of my heart, I took the plunge and brought him into my family.
The first week, he gained at least a pound a day and over time grew to be a respectable 115 pounds. When he was about six months old, the Humane Society put on its first “Best In Show” competition which mimicked ‘Westminster’, with the only notable exception being that they had a category for “Mixed Breed” dogs. Jasper was in that category. Surprisingly to me, he won his category and went on to be named “Best In Show”. One of the many prizes he won was a photo shoot. This is the best picture from that shoot – see how his amber eyes glow!
When he was about 2, we moved from Central Oregon to Chebeague Island, Maine. Booh had passed over the bridge by then and I had adopted another little dog, Taffy. She and Jasper became best friends and walking companions. They especially loved our time on Hamilton Beach, running in the surf and looking for lobster shells to eat.
We lived there for 7 years and Jasper distinguished himself as a stalker extraordinaire – catching and killing several foxes and one very large and nasty raccoon. He also loved to try to bite the tires of any vehicle that had the courage to come up my driveway!
Three years ago, we moved from the island to Western Michigan. Taffy had passed on with congestive heart failure so it was just me and the three remaining dogs. On our road trip to Michigan, all three surprised me by being remarkably and amazingly well behaved. And, this was in 100+ degree F. weather with humidity to match!
After 3 days driving, we arrived. It was mid-July and all dogs quickly accommodated to our new home.
The following winter was especially hard, but Jasper, true to form, loved it. He was in his element, lying in the snow, rolling in the snow, and just being outside in freezing temperatures. Often times, when it was below zero outside, I had to force him to come in.
Then came, Splatter’s first brush with death. He had a six-pound tumor removed from his spleen. Jasper stayed by his side all during his recovery, lying next to him, staying close.
Two years ago, my Jasper began to rapidly lose weight and drink copious amounts of water – both hallmark signs of diabetes. My vet put him on insulin injections, twice daily, but he developed urinary tract infections that made the insulin practically useless. It took months to get this under control, constantly adjusting and re-adjusting his insulin dosage and putting him on pain meds and supplements for the nerve damage in his rear legs that was a side effect of the disease. In addition, he developed osteoarthritis which particularly affected his front wrists, causing him to limp.
And, now we come to the present. Over the past few months, he got gradually worse, sometimes unable to get up off the floor, falling when on his walks, and panting constantly. His diabetes went out of control again and, again, he began developing UTI’s. My vet and I did everything possible, but I could see in his amber eyes that his quality of life had diminished to the point of no return. So, last night, my vet came to the house and I said good-bye to my gentle giant, Jasper.
I type this now with tears streaming down my cheeks. He was my beautiful boy, sometimes a real handful, but always faithful and steadfast. He loved me unconditionally and I will always cherish his memory.
RUN FREE, MY SWEET BOY, RUN FREE!