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ChildDrenched: A Tribute to the Love of a Dog

Families can learn about life and love from a wonderful pet. This blog is a tribute to our dog and may help others cope with losing their pet.

In my blog, I usually write about adopting children and try to provide emotional support to prospective adoptive parents. Today, I am writing about the other adopted member of our family. I write for those who have lost a dear, furry family member and the devastating sense of loss it creates, while also leaving us with cherished memories.

Our dog Jasper died, fittingly, just before Memorial Day weekend. He came into our lives when I was truly ChildDrenched and unable to conceive our third child.  He was a gift to our two young boys a year before we adopted our daughter who is now ten.  His presence filled our home and our hearts and he taught our children lifelong lessons. 

As he aged, I watched in admiration as our children cared for him when walking became more difficult, feeding became more complicated, and spending time with him became less entertaining.

I am forever grateful to our dog for suffering through the last few months as we readied ourselves for the end. We are now all in mourning, stunned by the emptiness in our home, despite five people living here.

As a healthy yellow lab, Jasper enjoyed every person who came to the door bearing packages, dry cleaning or mail. His tail wagged incessantly and despite his 90-pound girth, he was happy to be an inside, lap dog.  He seemed delighted to see us every time we walked in the door, regardless of how long we had been gone.

My husband posted our dearly departed, eleven-year-old dog’s photo on Facebook and received more condolences from friends and business associates than I have ever seen. 

Some had met Jasper when my husband used to take him to work.  Jasper would greet all the employees walking from desk to desk and then lay down in the middle of the room, logging hours of restful naps while the software engineers worked. Others just knew of Jasper through my husband who referred to him as his “third son”.

As a puppy, Jasper was another member of the “team” for our kids. He often played in the outfield when our sons played baseball many years ago. We would watch him try to pick up as many balls in his mouth as he could fit, and still run.  He was happy to be “dressed up” on Halloween for pictures and trick-or-treating. 

My daughter enjoyed arranging her stuffed animals all around Jasper, who sat patiently listening to her chatting with all of her friends. He loved the snow and was extremely enthusiastic and protective when our kids went sledding.

Jasper was a loving family member who, until a year ago, was my perfect walking partner and my buddy when the house was empty on school days.

  He would sit and listen to me type at my computer, talk on the phone, and watch “Ellen” with me. Far from passive, he had an intuitive sense of how to respond to us when we were happy or comfort us when things went wrong.

Although the last year was full of vet visits, complicated medicine schedules, and physical therapy appointments, there is no relief in his absence. I would gladly have kept picking up his shedding fur and feeding him pain killers and treats.  But, we knew his health would not improve and it just wasn’t fair.

Now, we miss him when we walk in the door to our “empty” house. It will be a long, slow recovery, especially for our sons who helped us pick him up from the breeder eleven years ago when he was only six weeks old. 

Jasper’s death represents the years that have gone by and as we look at his puppy photos, we also shed a tear for our children’s childhood that went fleeting by.  Optimistically, I now know that having a dog accompany our children as they grew from kids to young adults helped teach them compassion, responsibility and now, about loss.  As difficult as this loss has been, I highly recommend a dog for any loving family.

We all knew this day was coming. My daughter kept track of Jasper “in dog years” helping her learn her 7 times tables and also understand <read more>

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Patty Lazarus June 05, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Nicole, thank you for your lovely comments and support. You brought tears to my eyes. I appreciate this thoughtful message.
PJ June 07, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Patty, my condolences to you and your family on the loss of your dog. My husband and I also lost 3 of our dogs this past year...I too miss my "boys" meeting me at the door when I'd come home from work, or even if I'd just been to the corner store to pick up something I'd forgotten on my shopping list earlier in the week. To them, my being gone was like forever, even if it had only been a half hour. I miss their personalities, each one was unique in their own right, and they had us wrapped around their paws like it was nobody's business. When the "boys" were younger, I taught them how to come to me thru sign language. They knew "fall down, go boom", "c'mere" and "treats", all without my having to say a word. After losing them so closely together, it is with a heavy heart that I have decided that I do not want to have any more pets. My "boys" gave me and my husband many, many years of joy and laughter. And the biggest lesson they taught the two of us, was how to love unconditionally. When our Beagle was put to sleep Easter 2012 weekend, I was reminded of a verse in the Bible that says, "He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds"(Psalm 147, verse 3). May the Lord heal you and yours' hearts as He has done mine. I thank you again for such a lovely story....Now I need to go and dry my tears. God Bless you *hugs*
Patty Lazarus June 07, 2012 at 05:13 AM
PJ, thank you for your dear, sweet story. Drying tears here too and sending hugs right back!!
Maryann Campling June 10, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Patty and family....Dogs and horses have always been a big part of my life and their loss, regardless of age or circumstance leaves a large hole in your heart. I know that Jasper is at the Rainbow Bridge, young and healthy forever, and waiting to run out to greet you again, on some happier day.
Patty Lazarus June 11, 2012 at 04:53 AM
I love your vision and compassion! Thank you for giving us a different perspective on this huge loss.

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