Our Lhasa Apso, Jasmine, came into our lives in the midst of an Epic Fight. Mr. Husband has always wanted a Bulldog, and I have always been very set against the idea (you see how that worked out for me). During the Epic Fight, I told Mr. Husband he could get a dog, just not a Bulldog, and he immediately feel in love with the adorable little pup that mostly resembled a hair ball with teeth.
Her first few months in our house I was working from home, and she made me insane. In fact, I hated her. The hair ball with teeth crashed into our lives full speed ahead, slowing only to gnaw on the occassional expensive computer power cord or not replaceable auxiliary power cord. She ran and ran and ran and ran, always with a mischievous grin below the layers of white hair.
I set about house-breaking her by tying a little jingle bell to a piece of elastic and hanging it from the door then teaching her to ring the bell when she wanted to go out. She was a smart little fur ball, so it only took her a few days to catch on. Then she drove me to the brink of a nervous breakdown by taking her new training literally--she rang the bell when she wanted to go out. Every ten seconds. All. day. long. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.
Eventually, I figured out that if I took her to the nearby dog park and let her run in circles for 45 minutes, she would manage to calm down long enough for me to actually take a shower. So every morning we set out to the park, she to run like the wind, and me to cower low so that nobody would notice that I was still wearing rumpled pj's under that heavy coat and that my hair hadn't seen a comb in quite a while. She wasn't an obedient puppy by any stretch of the imagination, so my pockets were crammed with treats as I tried diligently to teach her that "come" meant to come sit by my feet and let me grab your collar, not run towards me, stop 10 feet away, then dash off again with a smile and a flourish.
It was on one of these early morning trips to the park that I lost Jasmine. It had been snowing and the ground was covering with over a foot of heavy, wet flakes. The flakes stuck to her long fur en masse, creating little snowballs all over her body. The snowballs did nothing to slow her down, and she started her usual running to and fro. She darted about like Dash from The Incredibles, not much more than a white blur amongst the white drifts of snow. Then suddenly, she wasn't even a blur. In fact, she was nowhere to be found. I walked and walked and walked, calling her name, wishing that for JUST ONCE she would obey a simple command. At one point, as I stood cold and shivering in the middle of the huge field, I wondered just how mad Mr. Husband would actually be if I didn't find her. She was, after all, a pain in the ass. Just as I was convincing myself that I could handle his wrath, there she was--a two foot snowball with a tiny whimper. She was so covered in snowballs that she had become one big snowball and could no longer move. I scooped her up, wrapped her in a towel from the car, and took her home to spend two hours blow-drying the snowballs away.
Something happened that day at the park in that little brain--Jasmine finally figured out that it might be in her best interest to listen to me. She continued to ignore Mr. Husband's commands, but suddenly she obeyed me when I told her to sit, stay, come, roll over, beg, etc. I was the reluctant keeper of the Lhasa, the one who was called in to assist when she got unruly, the one that whose heart beamed with pride when she immediately dropped whatever trouble she was in and came to stand by my side.
She was always at my side. Always. She followed me from room to room, all over the place, and made it her mission to keep everyone else away. She chased the three cats into hiding (some of which didn't come out of hiding for years). She threw a holy drooling fit when Meg came into our lives.
Eventually she came to be sort-of friends with her Bulldog opposite. They were, in fact, complete opposites. Jasmine appeared to be the "girly" one, but really Meg is the dog most likely to be scared of her own shadow. They were The Smart One and The Dumb One, The Good One and The Bad One, The Pretty One and The Ugly One. Most days they were buds, but every once in a while they would launch into a battle royale. It may be surprising to learn that the little 15-pound hair ball came out the victor in most of those battles. It seemed that Meg was unable to find actual body in the midst of all that fur, and Jasmine was able to get down lower than Meg and nip at Meg's legs. In fact, one of those nips landed Meg in expensive surgery. I'm sure it was an accident, but I can't help but think that Jasmine was secretly smug that she was able to leave a permanent scar, a permanent reminder that brains will always win over brawn.
Then came Alexis, and Jasmine's world was truly turned upside-down. No longer was she able to commandeer my lap all to herself; she now had to share it with a tiny screaming person. In all honestly, I fully expected that Jasmine would never be able to adapt. I had even thought through who would take her when she first showed signs of aggression towards the baby. It was in her history, after all, to bite the young. She had tried to bite many kids, but we knew she didn't like them, and were able to stop her all but once. That once she left a crooked overbite-shaped bruise on the arm of our just-walking niece. I assumed the same would happen with our own child.
But it didn't.
Somehow, someway, Jasmine understood that Alexis was "part of the pack." She took to watching out for her, protecting her from the Evil Cats, and letting out a quiet bark when she thought Alexis needed something. As Alexis grew up, Jasmine took it upon herself to become The Teacher. She was the one that taught Alexis how to pet an animal, and with gentle nips she taught her that you can't pull hair. Jasmine let Alexis take bones out of her mouth then taught her how fun it is to throw that bone and watch the dog take chase. Jasmine taught Alexis to never leave a peanut butter sandwich laying around. Jasmine taught Alexis the love of a dog, one patient moment at a time.
All weekend Jasmine was sick with diarrhea and vomiting. When we took her to the vet on Saturday, she was given some meds, but wasn't even dehydrated enough to need an IV. She started to show signs of improvement mid-day yesterday, and even spent a few lazy hours on the couch snuggled up on my left side, where she always sat. Alexis sat gently petting her ears and telling her, "I wuv you, Ja-jine."
Last night, our Jasmine passed away in her sleep. We don't know why. We don't know what we could have done differently.
We don't know.
All I know is that there's a Lhasa-shaped hole in my heart and that I dread the first time Alexis asks, "Where's Ja-jine?"
We love you, girl.