I was picking up perogies at the supermarket when I got a call from Jasmine Blue’s dog trainer, Alan. It was 2 p.m., just about the time he was supposed to arrive to take the pit bull princess out for a playgroup with his pack.
“First I want you to know that Jasmine’s OK – she’s with me …” Alan began. Instantly my heart started pounding faster. Had there been an accident? Was there a fight at the dog park?
“But she really did a number on your room,” Alan continued. “All the drawers are pulled out and turned over on the dog bed, and there’s stuff all over the floor …” Now my heart was doing flip-flops. Jazzy is strong, but not strong enough to pull drawers out. She’s also not destructive, except for the occasional disemboweling of a stuffed toy.
“Is my laptop there?” I asked in a panic, “it should be on the shelf behind the bed.” Alan said he didn’t see it. “How about my iPhone? It was charging right next to the computer.” Again, Alan said he didn’t see it. “What about the 42-inch flat screen TV?” Alan let out a gasp, “Oh, man, I think you’ve been robbed.”
Alan said he would keep Jazzy with him, and I hung up and dialed 911. When I arrived at my house, two squad cars were waiting. The first officer on the scene asked me to wait outside. They drew guns and headed in through the garage entrance, shouting, “Police!” When they were certain the burglars were no longer inside, they asked me to come in and tell them what was missing. “Everything,” I said as I walked through the house in a daze. “Everything’s missing.”
The burglars had climbed up on the low, flat roof of my garage, broken the window of the guest bedroom, and unlocked the window. They quickly figured out that my alarm wasn’t on; they hit the jackpot.
Alan only recently started taking Jazzy out for playgroups, and one week before he set off the alarm – it was my fault; I forgot to give him the code. I received a notice stating that the next false alarm would cost me a hundred bucks. Though I gave Alan the code afterward, I forgot to show him how to use the keypad. Since I was just going to a short meeting and then the market, I decided not to risk the hundred-dollar fine and did something I almost never do – I left the alarm off.
“So your dog was home?” one of the officers asked. I nodded, still in shock. “What kind of dog is it?” “A pit bull,” I said. His eyes grew wide. “How big?” “Seventy pounds,” I said. “So these guys broke into your house with a 70-pound pit bull? That doesn’t make any sense …”
In fact, it does. Pit bulls make terrible guard dogs. Originally bred in England to watch the children, Staffordshire terriers were called “nanny dogs.” The mix of smart, tenacious, alert terrier and strong, loyal, protective bulldog was perfect for the task. Later, that strength, loyalty and tenacity would be their downfall, because it also made them perfect fighting dogs. “Staffies” had to be willing to do anything for their owners, even kill or be killed; dogs aggressive toward humans were destroyed. Despite the media hype and occasional horror story (which always includes a horrible human at the helm), modern-day Staffordshire terriers, known in America as pit bulls, score extremely high in temperament tests and make wonderful family dogs. They love people and crave attention – and my pit bull is no exception.
As I walked through the disarray, I noticed there was a stuffed toy on the floor of every room where a flat screen TV was missing. One of Jazzy’s most endearing habits is bringing a “gift” – one of her favorite stuffed toys – to anyone who visits. Well, it’s not really a gift. She won’t give it to you, no matter how nicely you ask. Ever the gift-bearing tease, Jazzy will carry the gift in her mouth and follow you from room to room, which, it appears, she did with the burglars.
There was also a stuffed toy on the floor near the broken window. Whenever Jazzy hears the mailman, she grabs a toy and runs to the door growling and barking. He’s scared to death of her, but if he looked through the frosted glass door, he would notice that the reason her growls and barks are muffled is the pink fluffy bunny in her mouth.
It seems Jazzy showed the burglars where the silverware was – or at least the flat screens, the Apple products, and my jewelry.
That evening after the police and CSI left, Alan brought Jazzy home. I’ve never been so happy to see her, and the feeling was mutual. I sat on the floor of the ransacked bedroom and did what I have done through dozens of difficult situations – I wrapped my arms around her big, muscular neck, buried my face in her fur, and cried. As she always does, Jazzy sat patient and stoic, rubbing her cheek against mine and occasionally licking away the tears. But I wasn’t crying over the stuff – stuff can be replaced. I was crying because I put Jazzy in that situation; I was crying because Jazzy was there with the burglars, her usual affectionate, gift-bringing self – which quite possibly saved her from harm.
Since the break-in, I’ve beefed up my security system with technology that would make James Bond squeal with glee; and needless to say, I never, ever forget to turn on the alarm.
And while I miss my diamonds and flat screens and iPods, I have the only thing that really matters, Jasmine Blue. When it comes right down to it, you can’t cry on a flat screen’s stoic shoulders, cuddle with an iPod, or take a diamond on a squirrel-watching adventure at Stow Lake. Stuff is replaceable. Jazzy is priceless. And that puts it all into perspective for me.