2016 started off with many blessings for our family. With the expectation of a baby, our daughter and her family sold their starter home and moved into a four bedroom home. Two days after moving in, our second grandson was born. The love and attentiveness of our first grandson, 71/2 year old Aiden to his baby brother made me fall even more in love with him (if that could be possible). Truly blessed there was much to celebrate and be thankful for.
But in this life a little rain must fall.
We lost our grand-dog, Jasmine this month and our hearts are broken.
I know that this blog spot is mostly about how to handle medical adversity but those of us that have pets know just how much our dogs, cats, birds, (place your pets name here) help color and enrich our world.
Studies have shown that dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression and have lower blood pressure in stressful situations. Playing and petting a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax. Pet owners over the age of 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors. (Why am I still seeing so many doctors?)
Now I know what you’re thinking: If you want to be healthy – you need to get a pet. We currently have three and we’re all in our “golden years” sharing a home in what we affectionately call “The Schoen’s Assisted Living Facility”. It’s getting harder to care for three very distinctly different personalities along with our needs and so we have agreed that as each pass, we will not restock. I often tell Thad that should pass away before me; I will immediately go out and get a dog! For I do know they have provided me with unconditional love in a world that is judgmental. They are what keep us going, adding structure to our day and giving us purpose, companionship, a reason to get out and walk and exercise. We have friendships with most of the other pet owners in our neighborhood. Their companionship has provided comfort, reduced anxiety, and made us laugh with their affection and antics.
Such was Jasmine. She was our “Nana dog” (Peter Pan)
Jasmine provided my daughter with something she had had her whole life and that was growing up with a dog – usually several at a time. Newly married in a new town, a new home, a new husband, a new job; Jasmine was to her something that was familiar, known and constant. She represented security in a new world.
When Jasmine came into my daughter’s home, a cat named, Bailey was already in residence. Bailey was the “Cat from Hell” and that’s putting it mildly. Bailey had a rough start in life: he and his liter mates were tossed into a dumpster as mere kittens but saved by the humane society where Francesca adopted him. He was the running, jumping cat with destructive tendencies and anger management issues. They put him on medication to calm him. Even though Jasmine was a large white German Shepard mix and four times the size of Bailey, their friends felt sorry for Jasmine when she was brought home to live with Bailey. But slowly, Bailey’s tormenting of Jasmine turned into true friendship as they played and chased one another through the house, wearing Bailey down so that he spent more time sleeping by his “Nana Dog” than tearing apart their home. They were often seen standing in the front window staring at passing lizards on the window, following the frolicking of squirrels in the front yard or standing guard until their family returned home. Soon, Bailey did not need medication anymore for Jasmine’s calmness and patience brought serenity to this curmudgeon of a cat. Jasmine was Bailey’s comforter – his “Nana Dog”.
For my son in law, he often stated how Jasmine was the best member in the family. She gave him the least amount of problems and he always looked forward to going to get the mail with her at the end of a long day.
When our first grandson was born, Jasmine stepped up duties as “Nana Dog”. Where ever Aiden was, Jasmine was close by. As Aiden began walking, running, and then biking along the neighborhood streets, Jasmine never left his side. If he were playing outside, she always kept him in her field of vision, always on guard.
On a visit to our home, Opa (my husband) was walking with Aiden ahead of my daughter, Jasmine and I. We were sauntering some ways behind them. As they moved out of our field of vision, Jasmine increased her pace. My daughter called for Jasmine to stop and wait. Ever obedient, she stopped, turned around to my daughter, turn back to look for Aiden and moved forward. Again, my daughter commanded her to stop and wait. And again, Jasmine stopped, acknowledged her command, turned to keep track of Aiden, and looked back at her as if to say “I got your request and I want to obey, but I NEEED to be with Aiden”. It was then that my daughter laughed and said to her “Go ahead Jasmine – go walk with Aiden”. In receipt of my daughter’s blessing, Jasmine charged up to Opa and Aiden tail wagging, blessed to be able to complete her mission as Aiden’s guardian.
Jasmine passed away this month and it is painful to think she won’t be around to be a “Nana Dog” to our second grandson, Ryker. Yes, she is gone from our world but she will never leave our hearts. Her paw prints are permanently etched in our body, mind and soul and whenever we think of her we will feel healthy, happy and whole. We have been blessed for having had her in our lives and I wouldn’t have missed this journey with her despite the pain of loss. My pain is softened by my memories and the belief that we will see Jasmine again – over the rainbow.
How has your pet shaped and improved your life and health and is it worth the pain of loss when they pass? Please share