J is for Jasmine, or Jazzy as we usually called her.
Years ago while mourning the loss of my son's puppy, I stopped into the local animal shelter. With a hurting heart I wandered the cages of dogs and puppies ruffling fur and scratching ears. I hadn't come to adopt, just to try and fill the void I felt inside. In one cage was a seven or eight week old puppy desperate for a little bit of love. When I slid my hand into the cage she immediately did a doggy somersault into it. Later that evening I told my husband about the silly little puppy who would surely capture someone's heart. Little did I know that he would go back to the shelter and return with a new family member.
We almost lost our new friend to a car on a dark winter night one January when she was a year old. I hadn't even realized she was outside, but there was a knock on the door and a man asked if we had a brown dog. We called her name and she came limping home, one front leg dangling. The surgical option to pin her broken leg was terribly expensive and offered no guarantees, so we made the decision to have her leg amputated instead. "We're going to love her just as much with three legs," I told my husband.
Having three legs didn't slow Jazz down much. Once she was feeling better and saw her chance, she dashed out the door and off into the orchard, her shoulder still full of staples. In days to come she would run circles around us, leap over couches in excitement, and accompany us on long orchard walks.
Being a "people person" Jazz got lonely when we weren't home. Our children began to grow up and orchard walks grew fewer, and the lonely dog learned to wander. She wandered up the hill next door to visit Mike, and one day she wandered across Martin's path. She started disappearing for days at a time. We searched snow covered orchards, relentlessly called her name, and took out an ad in the local PennySaver, but in the end she wandered home on her own, unable, and probably unwilling, to tell us where she had been.
For five years our dog split her time between our house and the little gray tenant house down the road and over the hill. (See how bad she wants to go to her friend's house? How could I tell her no?) By the time we found out where she was going, she was set in her way and I had already come to the conclusion that my dog was on a mission. Last week I found out how true that was.
While I was gone to Minnesota last week a card arrived in the mail. It was a note from Martin's sister telling us how Jasmine (Tripod, Stumpy...) had saved Martin's life and his family is once again concerned for their brother. I don't know any details, only that my dog loved my neighbor. I think that's pretty incredible. I pray that he would find a new friend, maybe one he doesn't have to share, and that he would be encouraged. And, I think maybe I should bake a pie or a batch of cookies. Jazz would have liked that. :)
PS. I is for Incredible, because she was.
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Barns in Conewango.
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