We don’t wake up in the morning expecting bad things to happen. Though the realist knows they often do, we don’t plan or anticipate them—if we did we wouldn’t be able to go on. We don’t expect to have a tornado flatten our home, answer our door to a home invader, be maimed in a car wreck, or go see a movie and get shot. Fate affects us all every day in spite of our best intentions—we need only glance at the headlines to have our hearts broken in ways we couldn’t have imagined, with only a shred of luck standing between us and them.
My dog Jasmine was my best friend, co-pilot, and provider of unconditional love. She began her life as a sato, a slang term for the thousands of street dogs hanging on to life in cities and beaches in Puerto Rico. Similar situations exist in many beautiful tourist destinations as well as run-of-the-mill hell holes all over the world, where animals have little value and are poisoned, abused, starved, and sick with parasites and a host of other diseases. But like all animals, they have a strong will to survive. Volunteer organizations do exist, fueled by people who, through meager donations and their own passion, try to make a difference.
I know Jasmine’s life wasn’t important in the grand scheme. But the day we found this pup in a feed store in Connecticut, rescued by an angel who asked for a $100 donation, I knew fate had found me. A lot of dogs have passed through my life but none compared to Jasmine. Her untamed streak only made our bond stronger. She was snippy, growly, had food issues, and would never back down from another dog no matter how outsized. But she was fiercely loyal to me and never left my side during our many long walks together. These traits passed down through generations of her semi-wild heritage only made me love her more.
Yesterday was a normal day, I did a cleaning job and drove home in an intense monsoon thunderstorm. Thunder was about the only element that Jasmine feared, it sometimes provoked her to do unpredictable things even after 11 years. I don’t know how the fight with one of my other dogs started, I was only there to break it up. Breaking up a dog fight is hard when the dogs are determined. But I did, there was no blood, and the dogs settled down. I fed them and tried to anesthetize with a movie. Around midnight I noticed Jasmine seemed lethargic. It happens—the heat, the storm, the fight. I called her to come to bed with me and she was slow to rise. I lay down on the floor with her and held and soothed her. She ignored both me and her bedtime cookie. I got in bed and tried to fall asleep, a nightly ritual of self-torment. I drifted but heard nails dragging on the floor. It was now about 2 am. I sprang out of bed and found Jasmine on her side panting, her belly rising and falling with each breath. I should have picked her up and put her in my bed but didn’t want to move her. I lay with her on the floor but had a sick feeling…I would take her to the vet in the morning. Exhausted, I got back in bed and faded fitfully in and out of consciousness. I was shocked awake at 4 am by a bad dream as is my custom. I flew out of bed to check on Jasmine. She was dead.
I howled in agony and ran to wake Jimmy up. He wrapped her in a blanket and I kept vigil. At exactly 9 am when the vet opened we brought her body in to be cremated and returned. They said that dogs can have heart attacks and strokes just like humans. I honestly do not know what happened.
I have much to be grateful for. Eleven years and a quick death from a condition she only had to suffer for hours instead of months.
With the horrors of the world in furious abundance, I am not asking for sympathy for the loss of a mere dog, an insignificant creature whose presence meant the world to me—but only me. Those of you whose hearts are held fast by the love of a dog or cat will understand.