I’ve never been that into Halloween. I get embarrassed wearing costumes and in the city no one has ever trick or treated that much in my neighborhood so it has always been something I never thought of celebrating as an adult. Then I got Jasmine, my giant, beautiful grey pitbull, and Halloween became something I looked forward to months in advance.
Jasmine was made for Halloween. She loved everyone but especially kids. She was that dog that would see a kid near the water line at the beach and head straight for them to urge them onto the dry sand. She obsessively followed our nieces and nephews from room to room hoping for them to settle down to watch tv so she could lay her big head on them and fall asleep.
She loved being dressed up and no matter what outfit we would choose for her she would obligingly tuck her big head into and lay limp and allow us to put her arms into the sleeves, looking lovingly up at us, trying to steal kisses when we go close enough.
When we first got her, we put her in a minimal costume, a string of flowers around her neck, and walked her in a daytime Halloween crawl. It was the gateway experience to her love of Halloween. She loved all the extra attention she got and was so calm around all the kids walking around her in their costumes that we decided to try giving out candy for the next Halloween.
We live in a bit of a rougher neighborhood so trick- or- treaters usually went straight up the hill to the wealthier Noe Valley neighborhood but we figured if we put lit pumpkins out and a big bowl of candy and stood at the bottom of our stairs, we’d wrangle enough kids on their way up the hill that we could give Jasmine a pretty good Halloween experience.
So I dressed her up in a Wonder Woman costume that I had found at a used clothing store, put the big bowl of candy on the bottom of the stairs along with our pumpkins and waited. Within a few minutes kids started filing by, helping themselves to candy and, if they weren’t scared, giving a pat to Jasmine waiting patiently nearby. Jasmine immediately figured out what was happening and planted herself in the middle of the sidewalk and waited for the next group of kids to come.
All night she stayed out there with Britt, escorting kids to the candy bowl, looking up longingly at them for a kiss or a pet until they wandered off into the night on their way to Noe Valley. When all the candy was gone, Jasmine lumbered up the stairs, kissed her sister ReeRee (who is scared of kids in costumes) and fell into a deep, exhausted sleep. Our Halloween tradition had begun.
It’s been two Halloweens since Jasmine has been gone and each one has been as hard as the anniversary of her death. I can’t get myself to give candy out at the bottom of the stairs and we no longer have Halloween friendly dogs. ReeRee is scared of costumed kids and Dotty, the dog we got after Jasmine to comfort ReeRee, loves kids but has a bad habit of jumping on them with all of her 75 pounds. Anyway, without Jasmine, I just don’t have the heart for it.
This year I realized that I can celebrate Jasmine each Autumn but just a few days later. Dia de Los Muertos is November 2nd. This year I will set up my favorite photos of her surrounded by some Lantana flowers which she loved chewing on and light some candles. Maybe, if I’m lucky, she’ll visit us to steal some kisses again.