“A dog is the only thing on Earth that loves you more than he loves himself”
As I’m writing this post, it has been 24 hours since I said goodbye to my best friend. Sunday, November 26 2017 at 3:00pm – I held the paw of my black lab as we put him to sleep, putting to rest our beloved & blessed 13 years with him while ending the 3 years that cancer stole from him. Feeling his last breath was a peaceful reminder that this disease would no longer torment him, although he never showed us any moment of how much pain he truly was in.
It’s astonishing how positive this dog’s mentality was, and more impressively how he defeated the odds by living another 2 years despite his fatal diagnosis. In the end, Jasper left this Earth just the way he lived his life each & every day- with a wagging tail.
I remember when we first got Jasper. It was the summer after we lost our previous lab puppy to an unfortunate accident, and 1 1/2 years after we lost our first lab to cancer as well. I was convinced we were ‘cursed’ in the black lab department and didn’t have high expectations that Jasper would make it longer than 4 years. Yes, I was that cynical in my thought process but I also knew it was the only way to guard my emotions after losing two dogs back-to-back. If I could help it, I’d do everything in my power NOT to get attached to Jasper as to avoid such emotional distress. Little did I know that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop the bond that was going to develop & treasure my life for 13 years.
We’ve had many pets over the years and I’ve had my share of losing very special animals that felt like family. My recoveries would take less than a week, if that, because I’ve always been the type to move on and embrace the notion that ‘they’re in a better place.’ With Jasper, it’s completely different. I can’t shake the thought knowing he won’t be home the next time I go back to NJ. I feel like a part of my heart has broken off and died with him; it’s a feeling of incompleteness because Jasper was my best friend. And now he’s gone.
*Update 11.28 – I came home to NJ tonight since leaving for the city right after the vet and as expected, it was the most heart-wrenching feeling. All of his beds, toys, extra canned food, etc. were donated to the NJ SPCA which makes me happy to know other pups will get to benefit from his blessings. But full-disclosure, the lack of having anything that once proved we owned a dog at all is killing me.
What makes this grief so overpowering is the recognition of the role Jasper had in my young adult life. During all the trials & tribulations, he would take it all in. He was my shoulder to cry on when I was feeling my lowest; he was also my biggest mood booster when he would dance in place, wagging his tail so fast it appeared as a blur. His final month was spent having slumber parties downstairs whenever I went home, being there for him as he was for me all those years before. I’m so happy I was able to give him something in return, although it would never amount to what I owed him.
Jasper defeated the odds proposed to him, and not once did he show any sign that he was doing us a favor by staying alive longer than he needed to. He truly loved us and that was enough for him to continue; In the end, we had to tell him it’s ok to not be ok anymore & that he’s given us everything and more for 13 amazing years.
A tremendous lesson can be learned from his battle, which is to live each day with gratitude & love like tomorrow isn’t promised. Jasper made me a better person, a positive person, and someone who is capable of loving another in an unexplainable way. He left me with an amazing gift & I’ll never forget how much he changed my life. I’m forever thankful that I was lucky enough to be his human.