Give It A Year

sunde white illustrates an essay about her pitbull Jasmine


I always think that when I’m trying a new life choice to just give it a year before I make a final decision about it.  I especially think this applies to rescue dogs.  Give that dog a year to become itself, detox from various abandonment or abuse, get to know you, get to know their likes and dislikes, open up their hearts to the love you offer.  I guarantee after a year you will forgot that you ever had doubts about welcoming a rescue into your home.

When I first adopted my giant grey pitbull Jasmine from the ACC in San Francisco, she was like no other dog I had met before.  She would not go on walks, would not go up stairs, would not go on the beach, wouldn’t walk through groves of trees, would not be outside if there was any wind, only wanted to eat pizza crusts and Cheezits and chewed her paws till they bled.

She was not the least bit athletic like my first dog.  She walked slowly, often laying down and refusing to walk if it was above 68 degrees, her tongue lolling out of her mouth in apparent heat exhaustion.  When she approached people they would veer away from her bigness.  I put a big pink ribbon around her collar to make her look less intimidating so she could get the attention she craved so much.

She was obsessed with kids. She would guard strangers’ children on the beach and not let them get too close to the water.  She loved to lay down on the sand with her pork chop legs out on each side and crawl on her belly over to whatever kid she could get near.

She was a stubborn couch potato.  If Jasmine didn’t want to get off the couch some days then plans were changed to accommodate her.

She was the most empathetic dog I had ever met.  She worried about everyone she met.  She would not leave the side of people that were having difficulty walking either due to an injury or age.  She would escort them home on walks or sit closely next to them to lend them comfort.

Her little sister ReeRee was brought to our door one day as a little puppy and instantly Jasmine claimed her.  She was her puppy forever more.  They grew brave together and spent endless days hiking and at the beach.

And she loved me.  She loved me so much I’ve never felt anything like it before.  She followed me from room to room, held my hand when we drove and slept between my legs at night.  Sometimes I would wake up and try to move my feet and she would grip my legs with her front paws to prevent me from leaving her.  She was obsessed with me and I loved it.

A year passed and it turned out we could not imagine life without her.  We didn’t care that she was injury prone and had very few interests other than cuddling.  Her hugeness enveloped us.  She was ecstatic every time she saw us even if we had only been in the other room.  Once we adopted ReeRee officially, our lives were complete. For 8 years the joy she brought us was endless.

On St. Patrick’s Day it will be a year since she had a giant heart attack and I’m still lost in a fog of grief for her.  It turns out that it’s very hard to get by without such a massive infusion of love in our lives every day.  Giving it a year did not work this time.  Yes, life has gone on.  Yes, we are okay.  ReeRee has found a lot of her joy again since Dotty has grown up with her and adores her to pieces.  We adore Dotty and are so grateful for the healing she has brought all of us.  But inside I’m like a child tantruming  and repeating, “But it’s not fair!  I just want my Jasmine back!!!”

Jasmine did not get to grow old with her sister.  She did not get to experience another summer of laying in warm grass in the sun.  She didn’t get to have another snack or a roll in the sand.  I’ll never stand on the beach with my arms open and watch her run into them as fast as her stocky legs would let her, a huge smile on her face.  Oh my gosh, She was so amazing and I will never be the same without her.