I wanted to write a letter to my golden retriever Jasper to let him know how wonderful he was and how much he will be missed. He died too young. I’ve incorporated a few pics and for those who have asked, I am telling the story after the letter of what happened. My only hope is to honor him and show how the love of a dog is a great gift that we should all experience.
Three days ago we buried you in the garden at my parents’ house, next to sweet Bailey. Today, I left you to head back to our home, which will now feel so quiet and empty. We miss you so much and I’m dreading being back in our new home, where you completed our little family.
I wanted to write you this letter and sent it out to the world, because you brought so much to our lives in your short time and I want to say it aloud.
We got you at a time in our lives when I needed a companion. Desperately. I was living abroad for the first time, I had lost Bailey 6 months before, and Dragan was traveling alot. I needed you as much as you needed me and I was so happy when I saw your cuddly, fluffy face. You were the cutest dog I had ever seen and I started taking you everywhere as I could still carry you and for the first time since I had moved to Europe, people came up to speak to me….to acknowledge my presence. It’s funny how animals bring out the best in people, but they do. People seem so afraid to SPEAK to each other. To reach out to strangers and get to know those in their communities, but when I would have you with me or would be out walking, you helped break that inhibition. Soon, I was practicing my French out at the park daily, and I felt so much pride in my beautiful pup, who helped me bridge a cultural gap that I had been sinking down.
You were not an easy dog teenager though! You pushed me and rebelled and sometimes I felt I was at my wits end, and in those moments, you taught me what real love means. You taught us both what real love means. You always seemed to realize right when I was at my breaking point, and then you would soften, and give me love. Before you, Dragan (daddy) didn’t think he wanted a dog, and he had never had the pleasure of loving one before. I think he thought I was crazy because I love my animals so much, and he INSISTED you could NEVER get on our bed. We both know that didn’t last long, and you opened his heart and he loved you so deeply. All it took was you jumping up one day and snuggling next to him, that he changed his mind and realized there isn’t much better thing in this world than a snuggle from you beat furry friend. I wanted to tell you thank you for that. You opened our hearts and you paved a path for our relationship to grow.
Before that, we had both been a bit broken from losses in our lives and we struggled with blending our cultural differences. I struggled with moving my life and being far from my family, but taking care of you and having the opportunity to experience your unending, nonstop love and sheer joy in the small things of life, allowed ME to share in that joy and it made me a better person. Not always. Sometimes I snapped at you. After you had surgery and I was scared you were going to get hurt further, or I was in a rush and you wanted to enjoy your walk, or when you went through that terrible phase of laying down when you didn’t want to go home and I couldn’t lift you, or any of he other times that I had my priorities out of order. That is another thing we are grateful to you for giving us……the gift of slowing down and enjoying the small moments in the day. Because i felt bad that we didn’t have a yard and i wanted you to have plenty of time outside, you made me appreciate again the beauty of reading in the park. I have so many great memories of sitting at lake Geneva or the park in Divonne Les Bains watching you play or reading or just breathing and appreciating the gift of life. I was often so homesick and those moments helped me. I’m so sad never to share that again with you!
You also made me feel safe. Once you were over 1, you just became so wonderful. You protected me. I never felt unsafe alone when Dragan traveled or when I walked you at night, because I KNEW you loved me and would protect me. Did you know I needed that?
Did you know when my dad had his major operation and I was waiting for news, and that’s why you stayed close by me all day?
Did you know when I felt alienated by a new culture, or defeated after trying for something that didn’t work out, because you always seemed to know and come put your paw on my shoulder?
I didn’t appreciate the moments all the time, but they helped me in ways you didn’t know. Instead of sulking or feeling bad, I took you out! The fresh air lifted my spirits and I could pour my heart into you. I could also watch Dragan come home from a long day and know that the best way to relieve stress was to take you for a long walk or play. I loved watching the two of you play, as you brought out another side of him, a simplicity with which we all need to remember to anchor our lives.
When you were hit by a car, I remember thinking I didn’t know what I would do of something happened to you and everyday I worried about protecting you as your leg healed. You handled the move to Amsterdam so well! Dragan was gone for a week just a few days after we moved in, and I think, if I hadn’t had you there, I would have been scared. Instead, I met so many people, as they all wanted to come pet you or meet the new dog in the neighborhood. That’s right. The new dog, not the new people! You took care of me and you were my friend during those few weeks of adjusting to yet another culture. I loved seeing you sit outside the bakery or knowing you were waiting for me outside the supermarket. Dragan loved seeing you play in our new garden and taking you for walks to the park. We loved our new city and we loved out family of 3 IN our new city.
We were so happy to find out in mid February that your leg was doing well, and after April 1, we could let you resume your crazy ways. We didn’t know how sick you were. I’m sorry if I missed something. It breaks my heart that I didn’t know and that life can be so unfair. It breaks my heart that you went through so much in your little life, and that I couldn’t protect you and have you as part of our family longer, but thank you for all you gave me. I just keep hoping to see you when I get home. If I could wish for anything, it would be that.
Some people may read this and not understand. They may not know how sad I am to lose you and that makes me sad. But, I know. To experience the love of a dog, is a wonderful thing. There is no ego or judgment, but rather, kindness and love. Thank you Jasper for giving me that gift. It makes it harder to know I don’t have it anymore, but your dad and I will hold you in our hearts and we will not forget how you changed our lives. You were and will always be our first child. We had hoped to introduce you to our future babies, and to start our family knowing we had a gorgeous and wonderful boy to watch over us, but now we know you are watching over us from somewhere else. I know you are with my brother, Ryan, and that he is taking care of you know.
We love you. You will always be our sweet boo bear.
For those of you wanting to know the story……
A few weeks ago, we lost of beloved dog Jasper, who was only 18 months old. He had cancer. We found this out roughly 4 days before he died, and we are heartbroken. Everything was going fine and one night, I was watching TV and petting Jasper, when I felt a lump on his spine. It was new, bc I was always feeling for them after he had one removed at 7 months. That was on his side and came back fine. He also had a growth on his side from about 7 months that his vets saw and assured us was nothing. Regardless, I was always checking him. So, I felt the lump on a Monday. I took him by the vet Wednesday and they scheduled him for Friday. They thought it was weird and did a biopsy.
On Sunday night, he woke me at 2am and he had a little blood under his nose. The next day it got worse and by the time they called me in On Tuesday to review the results of the biopsy, it was a fairly steady flow……we were carrying around towels and I had to wipe hip every few minutes. So, when I went, they explained to us the tumor was malignant and they would need to take it out to see how bad it was. They thought the nose bleed was unrelated and that maybe he has sucked up some grass but as there was a lot of blood, they felt they could only fully see by looking up if he were sedated. They couldn’t do it that day, but they could do the surgery the next day and look then. I mentioned the growth on his side, as it just isn’t normal for a pup that age to have SO MANY things going.
The next morning I cuddled him and at 10 we went in for the surgery. The owner of the vet clinic was going to do it, and I asked if I could meet with her. I wanted to make sure she checked his nose, but then I asked her to feel the lump on his side that I had always thought was weird. She immediately showed concern and after a few minutes said she wanted to cancel the surgery and sent him to a specialist in Utrecht, so we went. The specialists office was very good and they did X-rays which showed that the lump on his side was in fact a mass the size of a grapefruit that had formed under his ribs and he was very worried. I just kept asking that he fix the nosebleed as it just was getting worse!He insisted we wait until they could get us in for the CT Scan, which would be Friday and that the nosebleed could wait. Feeling helpless we waited. Thursday I spent the day at home with him as he seemed to be going downhill a bit and his eye started leaking. Still, we sat in the park and went to our favorite places and we even let him run.
Friday we went in and he was really going downhill. His bad leg seemed to give out and I was crying even BEFORE we went in. We thought the worst was that the mass would be bone cancer and we would only have a few months. We thought that was the WORST case scenario. Alas it was not to be the case. They let me hold him while they sedated him for the CT scan and took him back. The vet came out after a lifetime and seemed grave as he told us what we couldn’t imagine. The cancer had metastasized and was all over his lungs. The nosebleed was being caused by a tumor that was behind his eye that had burst. There was nothing to do. He would have a few days…..weeks at most. They recommended we let him go and we could make the decision. I believe this is the worst part for me. We called our Swiss vets, our regular vet in Amsterdam and my mom. How do you choose a decision? After 30 minutes or so, we needed to decide before they woke him up or we let him go peacefully. We decided to let him go, as he was suffering and they couldn’t stop that damn nosebleed. It was a heartbreaking day that forever changes us.
Thank you for reading.