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 7s times tables and also understand <read more>

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Robin Hoffman June 05, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Wow. Thank you for this, Patty. Left me with a lump in my throat and yearning for a dog like Jasper. Beautiful memories. You and your family were blessed to 'grow up' with such a special pet.
Patty Lazarus June 05, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Robin, Your comments are much appreciated. We were indeed blessed. Thank you.
chris June 05, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Patty, from someone who went through this two years ago and now has a new family member we LOVE and cherish, don't be afraid to love again. Your new dog won't be the same, but he/she will be so special in their own way. I lost my dog when she was 13 - she was my dog as a single woman, then newly married, then with little babies. She was my constant companion, always there (some times in the way) I regretted not giving her more attention after the babies came after she died, so badly. But in the end I know she knew how much I loved her. One thing that gave me closure was painting and embellishing a picture frame in her honor with her tag, little decals special to her and a pretty picture. I also did a photo album, bought a pretty ceramic figure that looked like her and put her ashes in a decorative vase with the figure next to it in my living room, her favorite place to hang out. I know what you mean about the dog reminding you of phases in your life ending - that hit me like a ton of bricks in making that album! We did get the new puppy a few months later, mostly because I thought I'd lose my mind without the pitter patter around. He was tough as a puppy, but it took my mind off the emptiness, and now he is so wonderful, such a great companion. I miss my other dog, but we love our new one just as much. I hope you find that too. You'll know when it's right. Best wishes & RIP sweet Jasper in doggy heaven.


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