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My Jasmine

My Jasmine

She was a Christmas present to my brother and me. I was 10 years old and had been begging "Santa" for a dog for years. When we finally got one, it was in the form of a barking, slobbering, shivering, eating machine that never seemed to grasp the idea of "NO!" This dog ate EVERYTHING: sticks of butter, cans (literally, metal cans) of catfood, sticks of butter, tomatoes from the garden, a gingerbread house, my brother's glasses, my Minnie Mouse watch, loaves of pepperoni bread for the church bake sale. . .nothing was off limits to her. Perhaps it is why she had such bad breath. Almost as bad as her breath was the way she smelled after going for a swim in the Erie Canal.

She loved the water-there's a creek in our neighborhood and when we got close to it on a walk, she would literally drag whoever was on the other end of the leash down the sidewalk-running as fast as her legs could carry her until the creek was in sight at which point she would make a dead stop to just stare at the flowing water. She was impossible to control-never learned to "stay" or "heel". She learned how to "sit" and my dad actually did teach her how to "shake". Although she was never completely housebroken and we eventually just gave up on trying to teach her-she was incorrigible.

And yet, on cold winter mornings I'd awake to find her sleeping on the foot of my bed, or beside it on the floor. I'd hear her breathing and reach my hand down to pet her fur. I'd hear the click-clack of her nails on the wooden floors and the soft thumping of her paws on the stairs as she moved from room to room-sticking her cold nose in the face of each family member as if she were checking on us.

When I went out to deliver newspapers on Saturday mornings, I'd return to see Jasmine waiting for me on the porch like an anxious parent.

years pass and people age-animals are no exception to time either. They actually age faster and so it is inevitable that they leave this life before people. Jasmine was 15 years old: her hearing had long left her and her brown eyes were now blue-ish with cataracts. The puppy who never wanted to slow down was now an old dog that could hardly walk.

This observation is made by everyone who has ever loved a dog but it is always deeply personal. She was a bad dog, but she was also the best.

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