Is it too late to take issue with the phrase Man’s Best Friend?
We adore our canine companions. It’s just tragic their life expectancy is about a fifth of ours. Those of us that love dogs might experience more emotional dog deaths than human deaths. Or maybe that’s the path I’m travelling at the moment with my Mark Twain magnet, the more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.
There was Tequila, and Licorice, then Tootsie. They were all the family dogs.
Jasmine was all mine. Till I ‘abandoned’ her. I’ll come back to that.
It was September of 2002. I’d been away from home for three years at that point. First Detroit, now Orlando.
I don’t know what led me to it – probably just normal friendly dialogue on and off air – but to paraphrase whatever I said over fifteen years ago, I want a dog again!
A listener to the show called and said she’d found two strays. I went over to her place, and the smaller one, a lab, shepherd mix to my best guess, is the one that I took home with me. A time later it dawned on me the larger dog may have been her father. Maybe.
I was 23. I didn’t have much foresight into the adventure other than having been a child in a dog-friendly home for most of my life. Shiiiiit, let the dog out, let the dog in. Feed it. Boom!
But I was happy, and I was going to manage this. In my tiny, under 700 sq ft apt. Without telling my landlord, as to avoid the dog tax.
I didn’t have much room for a youthful medium sized 50-something pound dog, and I also found out I still had too much temper and too little patience.
Jasmine was a terror to house train. THAT I certainly didn’t have much experience in. And I was naive enough to attempt it without a crate, thinking how inhumane that was. Woops.
At this point, as to not waste your time, I’ll reel off some of the adventures.
I was a DJ, but she had more action with those records than I ever had. Dozens were littered, tattered and destroyed all over the living room floor. I kept them in the bedroom.
She darted out of the apartment one evening and it not been a perfect night to be outside, I may not have had those kids around to track her down before she was gone.
She’d done something that made me so furious – I forget what it was – I opened the door and told her to leave if she wanted. Visualize that.
Got a crate. But she howled and cried like she’d been locked in a dungeon. This was at 5am, when I left for work. I soon heard from the downstairs neighbor, who gave me a small piece of her mind, but also offered to help me train Jasmine.
She devoured the entire left arm of the couch. Seriously, Drogon would’ve admired its total evisceration. The couch was left in the apartment.
We hop on the road to drive to our new home, Saginaw. We headed the wrong direction, so we’re thirty minutes behind on an eighteen hour trip. Just as we turn back the right way, she unleashed her own kind of oral projectile. Traversing most of 75 and this dog can’t do car rides. Oh, shit.
Jasmine and I settled into Saginaw OK. Wait, no we didn’t.
She went into heat just as we arrived. She was on her doggy period. I tried to just clean it up, I taped some of my boxers around her, eventually I had to put her in the bathroom (easy to clean tile) of the town home I’d rented, which I hadn’t even moved into yet because my belongings hadn’t arrived. Poor Jasmine already had enough separation anxiety, so I guessed a small bathroom would be cozier than a three story totally empty home. Look, I know. The bathroom sentence is not one of my prouder moments.
Most humans have that intangible, mind melding connective moment with other humans. You know this person will be a loyal friend. This is someone you’re going to date for a long, long time. I have that symbiosis with dogs.
Jasmine and I had our moment one Saturday afternoon in November when I was putting together a dining room table. I think I’d left the front door open while bringing some pieces in. Or maybe I was just a dipshit 24 year old ‘letting fresh air in.’
She ran. About fifty feet down the driveway, and she paused, something almost cinematic. I could see the thought bubbles above her head. ‘I can run, and be free!’ ‘I might not eat so good, and this clown has a nice bed.’ I called her, and back she came. Whew. I’m still a dipshit.
I’ll take my brother Paul’s words here, Jasmine’s the best dog anyone could ever ask for. ‘I would like to clone her.’ Paul’s the unspoken MVP of Jasmine’s life.
We moved home, like home home, to Philly in October of 2006, after getting fired on 9/11 a month prior.
Jasmine didn’t have an aggressive bone in her. I don’t think she ever growled, like ever. She also, strangely, didn’t bark. That is, until she became assimilated by the canine Borg crew on Foster St. in Philly. I’d mentioned Tootsie, but since we’d been away, Sweety arrived. Correction, Aunt Tootsie and Aunt Sweety. And of course Grammy (my mom, Natalie) and Uncle Paul. My dad was living with my ailing, aging grandparents at this point.
Jasmine ‘found her voice.’ Which was a deep throated, needs-a-bag-of-Halls kind of half-howl, at anything. She was a little whiny and needy but those were actually endearing traits.
I began to work in Allentown and commuted the hour each way because when I took the job I was really skeptical about almost the entire idea of it.
Things worked out better than I expected, with the arrival of a sports station I got to use as an outlet for many things, and a therapist suggested I give a place in Allentown a three month lease agreement. I did. But…
What about Jasmine.
A. I pay a little bit more to find a place that takes dogs her size, and we’re back to where we were.
B. She stays with her human and canine relatives, and is always surrounded by love BUT I am dogless.
I left her behind in Philly. Yea, the word abandoned gets tossed around but its in good humor.
September 2002 – October 2006 Her and I.
October 2006 – June 2007 THE WHOLE HOUSE minus Barry.
June 2007 – January 2012 The house, minus me but visiting home often. Shit, laundry had to get done, and I’d rather drive an hour to Philly than use the dingy ones in the complex’s seedy basement.
January 2012 – January 2018 IT’S COMPLICATED.
I saw her for the last time this past December. She was affectionate, but she wasn’t what I remembered. Like when I’d seen her the previous year. After having been out of sight, out of mind for several years I was astonished that when I visited home she treated me and loved me like we’d never been separated. Humans are really the only mammals that can contemplate higher level thinking as we do (uhhhh, some of us anyway), but that fact that Jasmine was acting like this brought me to awe. Awwww and awe actually.
But Jasmine RIP 1/12/2018.
She became more Paul’s dog than mine, and that’s OK. He said he stayed with her after she was given whatever chemicals euthanize an animal, and she laid her head in his arm. (And I’m crying, when he told me then, and now writing this.)
That was the end. Dogs ARE man’s best friend. Especially someone like me. Mine now have literally kept me on this earth, instead of being in it. Our human best friends, if we’re lucky, live as long a life as we do.
That’s simply not so with our dogs.