Gillian Jones: Reflections on Jasmine

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NORTH ADAMS — I mentioned my dog Jasmine, a Siberian husky, in my recent column about living with six cats (April 19). My social media has hundreds of photos of her. I've been working on writing about doggy dementia and how the similarities between my mother and my dog go beyond them sharing the same December birthday.

I was working on such a column, outlining the symptoms to watch for in your canine and comparing them to my mom's human dementia. Then, the day before Mother's Day, Jasmine died.

At 13, Jasmine was in her mid-80s in human years, not unlike my mom. She had lost her hearing and no longer even responded to "Wanna go for a walk?" or "Do you want a treat?"

Not unlike my mom she began sleeping a whole lot more than she ever did. One day my neighbor came to the front door in tears because Jasmine was lying outside and appeared lifeless. Jasmine was just sleeping very heavily.

In addition, Jazzy would often seem agitated as she paced about the house and seemed confused about her whereabouts in familiar surroundings. She would also wait at the "hinge" side of the door to go out. On walks, she fell behind and seemed especially fatigued, but she still loved her sniffs. On our last walk, she collapsed on the ground in our neighbor's yard, and visited with them one last time. She then got up, like the trooper she was, and slowly walked home.

'WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DOG!'

She loved her walks. When I first got her, our walks were more like runs. I couldn't keep up! I even learned how to ride beside her on my bicycle while she ran! It was crazy and dangerous and on at least one occasion, I fell. Fortunately one of my dear friends was driving by, saw the whole thing and helped me home.

She was a beautiful dog! A petite Siberian husky, she was a purebred and the previous owner gave me the papers to prove it when I adopted her in 2010.

Everywhere she went people commented on her appearance. "What a beautiful dog!" they'd say.

Jasmine visited nursing homes, went to daycare and stayed in a kennel, hiked, had playdates, traveled in the car, flirted with boy dogs of all ages and even was the subject of a photography class I taught on photographing animals at IS183. She was a supermodel. In that way, she was like my mom. A beautiful young woman who had the potential to be a model, but was told she was too petite or short!

Not unlike Jasmine, who loved to run and play, my mom danced and did ballet from the time she was a child. My mom was a gorgeous young woman living in New York City in the 1960s when she met my father. They worked in the same office at Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

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My mom said my dad used to stare at her from across the room. He said he couldn't take his eyes off of her. Fellow co-workers told him not to bother because she was, "The Greta Garbo" of the office.

For those who don't know, Greta Garbo was a famous, Sweden born, film actress in the early 20th century. In Hollywood she had the" image of the silent and reclusive woman of mystery." In an interview in 1928, she explained that her desire for privacy began when she was a child, stating "as early as I can remember, I have wanted to be alone. I detest crowds, don't like many people."

Both my mom and my dog, Jasmine had these qualities, or at the very least, were misunderstood as many quiet people are. Jasmine hardly ever barked and just howled on occasion. While she could be social, she enjoyed her time alone.

When Jasmine died she had congestive heart failure and fluid in her lungs. An x-ray showed the fluid and cancer throughout her body. We brought her to the animal hospital on a Saturday within an hour of their closing time. The vet said if we hadn't brought her in, she may have died in her sleep. But I wouldn't have wanted her to suffer a second longer than she had to.

A NICE KEEPSAKE

Her death was a good one. It was peaceful. I cried for a few days, found myself looking for her for about a week, and now I feel like I've mostly adjusted to her being gone. After all, I have six cats and my mother to care for. But I haven't been without a dog in 16 years! I know I will want to get another dog at some point, but I also know that I must wait until the timing is right.

Losing my dog has not made me think more about what it will be like to lose my mom. I think about her death a lot already. I have no idea what that is going to feel like when it actually happens. When I thought my mom was going to die in November, I decided to write her obituary.

It was a good exercise — and now it is done.

As for Jasmine, I don't have her ashes, but instead I have a pawprint and two locks of her fur in plastic, a nice keepsake which I will cherish. One of the locks, I gave to my boyfriend, Dan, who shared responsibility for her over the last four years and is also grieving her loss.

Now, we find ourselves especially friendly with every dog we see and are actually starting to think about our next rescue dog. Plenty of dogs are looking for good homes. It won't be too long before I'm in canine love again, I'm sure.

Gillian Jones is a digital visual journalist for The Eagle and has been writing opinion page columns on care-giving. Her email is gjones@berkshireeagle.com.


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