When Jasmine Blue’s new trainer came to the house, the first thing he did was lie on the floor next to her – a moment she seized for a bath of kisses. Some people like it, some people don’t; fortunately the trainer didn’t mind. He started his general assessment, putting a treat on the floor and saying, “Off.” Of course, Jazzy went straight for the treat and promptly got squirted with a water bottle. You would have thought he had beaten her from the woeful look on her face. Again, he put a treat on the floor. Jazzy looked longingly at it, but didn’t move. “It’s okay,” he said. Jazzy timidly went for the treat.
“She is going to be a very easy dog to train,” he said. “She’s really smart and she’s incredibly sensitive.”
After the trainer left I went downstairs to check on my dad, who was watching a baseball game. Jazzy climbed into bed with him and tried to sneak in a bath of kisses. My dad laughed, and she wagged her big pit bull butt. “I love my granddog,” he said. “I know,” I smiled, “and she loves you, too.”
One week later my father passed away quietly in his sleep.
The day that followed was a whirlwind of friends taking turns making sure I was never alone. My dad’s long-time girlfriend came up from San Jose; when she arrived she fell into my arms, a pile of grief and tears.
Later that evening we sat on the sofa as we always did when she visited. We talked a bit, but mostly we just sat in silence. Then Kickie perked up.
“Where’s Jazzy?” she asked. Normally Jazz was there – usually on the sofa between my dad and Kickie, while I sat on her dog bed because there wasn’t enough room on the sofa for me.
Kickie headed downstairs to check on her. When she returned, she was clutching my dad’s favorite hat. “Jazzy was laying on Dad’s side of the bed,” she said, tears streaming down her face. “She got up and went into his closet; she sniffed his shoes, his slippers and his hat, then she got back up on his side of the bed again. It’s like she knows he’s gone.”
A week later I drove Kickie home. When I returned, it was the first time I had been alone … and that’s when it finally hit me. I curled up on my bed and sobbed. I felt something push at my back. I turned around to see Jazzy above me holding her pink stuffed bunny. Her ears were back and her butt was wagging tentatively. I rolled over and continued to sob. Again, I felt something nudge my back. This time she had her orange octopus. “Go away, Jazzy,” I said. But she didn’t listen. Now she had her Girducken, a stuffed duck with giraffe spots. When I sat up, I discovered she had taken every toy out of her toy box, as if she were determined to find the right toy, the one that would make me stop crying, the one that would make it better. I wrapped my arms around her neck and wept into her fur. She rubbed her cheek against mine, she pawed at my arm, and she tried to put the Girducken in my mouth. When I started to laugh, she dropped it on the bed and tried to slip me the tongue. Some people like it, some people don’t; I’m one of those people who don’t mind an occasional slip of the tongue from an incredibly sensitive dog.