Ten days ago we lost our beautiful Jasmine to a sudden heart attack. The vet said there was no way to know or help her, she just had a gigantic heart. What a metaphor for her, she truly was the most loving and generous girl. Always watching over her sister ReeRee, she was her big quiet shadow always two steps away, making ReeRee the sweet, secure dog she is today.
Jasmine was a huge grey pitbull with a velvet coat and the most giant smile you’ve ever seen. Her energy level had a toggle switch. She was either a giant couch potato that you had to carry from the couch to the front door to get her to leave or she was ecstatically playing and running with her sister at the beach, where she’d refuse to leave so we’d carry her 80 pounds back to the truck. Did I mention she was the most stubborn dog I’ve ever met?
The first time I realized how big hearted Jasmine was was when I first got her from the San Francisco pound. She was still really struggling with confidence issues. She was scared to walk down the street by herself, unsure of all the people, cars and activities. It took weeks to talk her into walking one city block before she’d turn around and pull for home at a full sprint. It took us months to be able to walk about two or three blocks before her panic would set in.
On this particular day I had willed her to walk about 3 blocks and we were waiting at the corner for the light to turn green to cross the street to the next block. When the light changed, Jasmine stayed put, staring intently at a woman with a leg brace and crutches, slowly making her way across the street towards us. At first I thought the lady on crutches was scaring her, making her freeze, but then she suddenly stepped out into the street and pulled right to the injured woman. When she reached her she turned around and leaned her big body against the woman and began inching along with her, protecting her as she walked with her.
The woman and I looked at each other. “I’m so sorry, I think she wants to help you or protect you because of your injury. Come on Jasmine,” I continued, trying to pull her. “Let this lady walk.” But she wouldn’t. She bared down on the leash harder so all her body weight was pulling against me and she was taking little baby steps to match the pace of the woman.
The woman was Irish and in a sing song lilting accent she said, “Oh, tank yew Jasmine. How nice of yew ta help me.”
Jasmine looked up at her and smiled her big pitbull smile and leaned into her and continued to escort her across the street. When she made it to the sidewalk safely, we were prepared to leave her and go on with our walk but Jasmine wouldn’t leave her side. I knew by now how stubborn Jasmine was and her size made it impossible to pull her away from what she wanted to do.
“Well. Goodbye Jasmine, tanks!” She told her and began to slowly be on her way. Jasmine would have none of it. Each step the lady took Jasmine took a step, not taking her eyes off of her.
“Jasmine, let’s go baby, she’s fine!” I said pulling her harder, kind of embarrassed for intruding on the lady’s day. But she wouldn’t budge.
“I’m so sorry.” I told her. “I think she’s worried about you and is insisting on walking you home. Do you live nearby? I don’t want to bug you but once she sets her mind on something you can’t change it.” The lady laughed and smiled down at Jasmine.
“I’m just at the next block, around the corner.” She said. “Are you going to help me Jasmine?” Jasmine looked up at her smiling and continued to escort her new friend.
“I’ll take your bag, so it’ll be easier. I’m so sorry if this is weird, she’s just really empathetic.”
“Oh she’s wonderful.” She said. We walked her to her door. It turned out that she had just had a motorcycle accident and was waiting to have surgery on her knee. Jasmine never left her side and never went one step past her charge, even if it meant standing like a statue as the woman inched forward.
At the woman’s gate, we said our goodbyes. “Tank yew so much Jasmine, you really made my day.” She said, bending down carefully to pet Jasmine’s big head. We exchanged smiles, I returned her bag and she went through her gate, it clicked securely behind her.
Jasmine was ecstatic with the joy of successfully helping someone. She looked up at me panting and smiling. I bent down and gave her a huge hug. “So this is who Jasmine is.” I thought to myself. “We’re going to have a beautiful life together.” And we did.