Growing up an only child is lonely. At least I found it to be so because my mom had to work a lot. My most faithful companion was my cat, Toby. He and I were the same age so I had never known life without him. That is until we were fifteen and he got sick. My mom had to put him to sleep because he was suffering. I was devastated. I didn't think I would ever experience a relationship like that again until one cold November night in 1989.
My friends and I had traveled from San Angelo to Abilene and were supposed to meet up with some folks at the local bar. We stopped off at a house along the way because my friend G'Anna wanted to see her sister. When we stepped into the house, these six little white balls of cotton with feet and black noses came running up to us the little runt bringing up the rear. Where the others seemed afraid of us, he just walked right up to me, sat on my foot, and made himself comfortable. It was love at first sight. Turned out the owners were desperate to get rid of these puppies because the mother was no longer producing any milk and they were going crazy feeding six puppies every two hours. I took him home that very night. He was an American Eskimo and he was so small, his entire body fit into the palm of my hand. I named him Jasper but now I can't remember why.
After that, the only time we were apart was when I had to go to work. I took him with me everywhere. I was 21 years old and really not the best parent for a puppy. My discipline was haphazard and it took me forever to get him house trained. But I loved him with all my heart and he loved me. He wore a perpetual smile and when he looked at me his eyes would light up. For several years, Jasper was my one true friend. I had drinking buddies and the people I did drugs with but nobody that would really miss me if I were gone. I moved away to Baltimore for a year and he was still the only friend I had. As long as he was with me, I was home.
Nobody I dated could stand him. He barked too loud and was really ill behaved. He didn't do what he was told and wouldn't come when he was called. He would escape out the door if you weren't careful and he even peed on my girlfriend's clothes one time. He did something to the clothes or shoes of every woman I dated and I finally learned that if Jasper didn't like them, then I better turn and run. He was a good judge of character.When I met Rhonda in 1995, she didn't really like him that much either but she loved me so she tolerated him. He tolerated her too and didn't tear up or pee on any of her things so I figured I had a winner here.
In 2000, Rhonda and I went on vacation for three weeks leaving Jasper in the care of my parents out at their place in the country. When we returned, I found him just sitting on the front porch with his nose all swollen. He had been bitten by a snake. All that night, I held him while he slept. He seemed to be in pain so the vet said to give him some Tylenol. The next morning, he began peeing blood so we rushed him to the vet. Money was really tight and I was trying to figure out how we would pay for the vet bills. When we got there, Rhonda told the vet that money was no object. I think that was the first time I really knew for a fact deep in my heart that she loved me. For her to say that money was no object for this dog that she really didn't like was extraordinary. The only reason was because she loved me and she knew that Jasper meant the world to me.
Unfortunately, nothing could be done for my little buddy. He was old and the poison had attacked his kidneys. He was already going into septic shock. Even if we'd have been there right when he got bit, he still would have died. I held him in my arms when the vet injected the solution into his IV that would allow him to drift off to sleep. I had never in my whole life experienced the pain of loss like that. I felt like my heart was being shattered into a million pieces.
We took him home and buried him under his favorite tree. I would have liked to do more for him but it all happened so sudden. I have had other furry souls that I have loved over the years and we've buried a few others under that tree but Jasper will always be my favorite, my boy, my buddy. It is a testament to how much I loved him and how much he loved me that even now almost five years later, I still cry when I think about him. But I also smile because remembering him is more joy than pain. And I know that he isn't really gone. He visits me sometimes in my dreams and I know that wherever I go, I carry him with me. I am truly blessed to have loved and been loved by that sweet little dog.