I first met Blue at her foster home in Hayward. On a warm Saturday late in July of 2006, a friend and I settled into the big backyard of Friends of the Fairmont Animal Shelter volunteer Paige Bennett and waited as she unleashed the hounds. I took a swinging bench in the gazebo and watched as Paige walked around the corner to the garage, which she had converted into a giant doghouse for her bully breed foster kids. Suddenly, a pack of six or seven dogs screeched around the lawn and up to me, all vying for attention. I scanned the crowd for the blue-eyed beauty I’d seen on PetFinder.com a few days ago but didn’t see her – until two big paws plopped on the bench beside me and then one short, stubby back leg. She struggled to get the fourth leg up on the bench, so my friend gave her a helpful push right on her big wagging butt. I’ve never seen such determination in a puppy’s eyes, or such sweetness. She flopped on her back across my lap, a wiggling bundle of gushy skin, and proceeded to lick my entire face. “There’s your Blue,” Paige confirmed. “She’s the One,” I said, trying to keep my lips together so as not to be French kissed by a pit bull I didn’t know.
The following Saturday Paige and another volunteer brought Blue over for a home check (common for pit bull placement) and a trial slumber party – a weekend upon which I could decide for sure whether she was The One. Paige dropped the tailgate and opened a large dog crate to reveal a suddenly nervous, timid Blue, completely out of her element.
Her beginnings weren’t great – kept by a man who planned to breed her in an attempt to get blue-eyed pit bulls and “sell them for a lot of money.” The Friends of the Fairmont Animal Shelter saved her from that fate. From there she went to the shelter and to a foster home and then to another foster home, and now she was in San Francisco being handed off to a woman she only met briefly a week before. Tentatively, she followed Paige up the steps to my house, carrying a tattered green stuffed frog in her mouth. “She got attached to that at the foster home,” Paige’s friend told us, “so we let her keep it.” The frog had a thatch of blonde hair that was crunchy and pulled tight as a toothpick. “When she’s nervous she sucks the hair.”
I had set up a spare room with everything Paige told me to get, from the Coolaroo bed to dehydrated beef knuckles. She smiled and handed me the leash. “I have a feeling we won’t be coming back for this one.”
The first moments after Paige and her friend left were awkward and a bit nerve-wracking for both of us as we sized up the stranger before us. As I sat on the floor next to the Coolaroo bed, Blue lay down and began sucking the hair of her comfort frog. “Your new name is Jasmine Blue,” I told her. “Jasmine after one of my dear friends who moved back to Texas, and Blue so you don’t forget where you came from.” The rest of the day didn’t get any easier – it took me 45 minutes to get her down the stairs and into the basement where I needed to do laundry, and despite a long walk in Buena Vista Park she had three accidents on my oak floors. At one point I burst into tears – I was so used to my routine with Steven, and he was the most perfect cat in the world in my eyes. What was I thinking?
A few days later I took Jasmine Blue along to a lunch meeting with Bruce Bellingham. She was an absolute angel, sleeping beneath the sunny table on the front patio of Zazie in Cole Valley. We were getting used to each other and I began seeing how she would fit into my life. Mid-meal I left for a few minutes to go to the restroom while Bruce kept an eye on Jasmine. When I returned, she was still crashed out under the table. “Did she miss me?” I asked. “No,” Bruce said. I was crushed. “You can’t expect her to love you over night,” Bruce, in his infinite wisdom, said consolingly, and he was right. After over a dozen years with Steven, I had come to expect that unconditional love – the way he would greet me at the front door; dash across several yards when I called him; follow me up and down the basement stairs; curl up in my lap while I did the laundry and watched Forensic Files on Court TV. That night I looked into Jasmine’s big baby blues as she dozed off to sleep on my bed and said out loud, “You’re not Steven. You never will be. And that’s okay.”
Several weeks became several months and one warm fall day Jazz and I attended another lunch meeting, this time with Pet Page editor Cindy Beckman, on the patio at Rose’s Café. Mid-meal I left for a few minutes to go to the bathroom. As I headed back to the table I glanced up to see Jasmine’s nose pressed against the glass door. “Did she miss me?” I asked, already knowing the answer but wanting to hear it anyway. “Yes,” Cindy said reassuringly, “She waited there the whole time you were gone.”
That evening I headed into the basement to do some laundry and Jasmine sauntered down the stairs ahead of me, her tail and big butt wagging in the air – not quite as graceful as the sight of Steven prancing down, nor was she as light in my lap while the laundry tumbled and we watched Forensic Files on Court TV. And that’s okay.