In honor of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to write about the love of my life: Jasper.
Jasper is my heart dog. There never was, nor will there ever be, another dog that has done so much to help me through this world. He and I share a special connection and we have had so many wonderful adventures together. He has been there for me through so many ups and downs; he’s assisted me in training with clients; he’s also just helped me forget everything that stresses me out and have fun, and be in the moment.
I remember the first time I saw Jasper. He was named Micah, and at the MaxFund Shelter in Denver. I was a volunteer at the time and was just starting out on my path as a trainer, having volunteered there for a few months to get some experience and learn from their then-existing positive training program for the shelter dogs, CHAMPS.
My then-husband and I had lost our dog, Soup, just a few days earlier. It was Christmastime and I decided to go in and walk dogs. Jasper was in a kennel and immediately I was drawn to him. He was three months old. After a walk with him, as we were walking another dog, we both decided to apply for him.
One week later we brought him home and he was so little that he could lie on a standard pillow for a nap. Over the months, he got to meet new dog friends, went camping for the first time, played in the snow, got lots of toys and learned many things, and became my best son, the love of my life. In time he became a vital part of my business in Denver, Delightful Doggies, helping me with dogs with all sorts of issues: being a helper dog to help fearful dogs come out of their shell, walking across the streets with assistants to help dogs with reactivity, and much more.
We’ve traveled to all sorts of amazing mountain trails in Colorado. He went with me to the ClickerExpo in Portland, OR, a few years ago, to do labs with me, and then get a nice vacation to see the ocean and play on the beach for the first time. We have enjoyed so many wonderful hiking and adventure forays–I am so grateful for all the beauty we’ve seen, and joy we’ve shared. It’s made such a difference in my life: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Any day that was bad could immediately be turned around by going out to the hills with him, or by going to one of Denver’s large off-leash areas so he could fetch, roll in the snow and more. He always brings a smile to my face and warms my heart.
When I have had dark times, Jasper has saved me. My husband and I split some years back and it was devastating for me. Knowing better than to separate us, a friend of mine who was out of town let me stay at her house for a bit, with Jasper. I would cling to him every night and cry myself to sleep. I went through many months–if not more than a year–feeling suicidal, not knowing what direction to take, going through lots of transitions: moving out of my house into an apartment, ending my business and taking a job with Freedom Service Dogs, losing some of my family and friends, and feeling completely unsure about everything and everyone, most of all, myself.
Jasper kept me going. He gave me a reason to live, and even flourish and become stronger. He’s still seeing me through lots of changes. We moved across the country last spring to come to Kentucky, and he just turned 10 this past fall! As things are changing with my business (more to come on that in a future blog post), he is now permanently retired. His only job now is to keep being the love of my life, and allowing him to take whatever time I can to give him the things he most enjoys.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you, from me and the love of my life, Jasper!