by Carole Levy
We met Jasmine after she had been given up at our local shelter. She was a German Shepherd dog, black and tan, around 4 years old, skinny, and so scared. I knew she needed us to love her at that instant. My son and I went to bring her home, and he sat with her in the backseat of my Lexus RX. He said, Mom, she's HUGE! And I said, yes, but she loves us, so it's okay.

We already had Roxie and Layla, GSD and lab mix, who were 3 and 8 years old then, and they all got along from the start. Two weeks later, we adopted Zoe, who was somewhere between 4-6 months, and we had a pack! It was a bit challenging at first, but we got along and life was good.

We discovered that Jasmine had only been fed once a day at her former home, so mealtime was HUGE for her. Our vet suggested feeding three times a day, so she might settle down about it, but mealtime was always a big deal to her. She also would flinch when she was petted along her side and would cry if we touched her belly or back and move away from us. We thought maybe she had been hit or kicked, so worked slowly and gently with her so that eventually, we were able to pet her all over, and she would even roll over for belly rubs and accept kisses.

We also discovered that her former family got up at 5 am. This was not our usual get up time, but I was never able to convince her that sometimes we slept in, or worked evening shifts. She was agreeable to going back to bed, but she like to go outside as much as possible, every hour if I have home that day. So we did, because tired dogs are good dogs!

One day, when we were in the yard, I happened to throw a frisbee and she leaped in the air to catch it. Jasmine knew frisbee! She would play for hours, running back and forth as we threw it. She was a thing of pure beauty in motion, strong and agile. We'd play until she decided to be done, and would collect all the frisbees and sit with them around her. She also loved to run after a soccer ball, then carry it around the yard. She had a favorite that we kept for a few years, until it was just a tattered scrap.

We called her Jasmine, Jas, Jazzy, Jasmine pants, Jasmine pantalones--not sure why, but it became a thing in our house.
She would play with Zoe, but only if Roxie was outside. For some reason, Roxie disapproved of their playing together. So we would make sure the coast was clear, and let them have fun.

Jasmine and I would go on long walks together. We used to go on a horse trail, through woods, down to a creek. She loved to get her paws in the water. She was always happy to say hello to any other dogs and people we met while walking.

Early on in her life with us, she had some recurring ear infections, and the vet found that she had growths in her ears. We had noticed that when we would ask her to sit, she'd look at us, but would respond immediately to a hand command, so she was a bit hard of hearing. We took her to a vet ENT who diagnosed her with chronic otitis. She had a surgery to clean them and high dose steroids to shrink the growths. It was about two months later that she went blind. We went outside, and I threw the frisbee, but she didn't go after it. I tossed another right at her, and it bounced off her head. I tried throwing her a treat, and again, no reaction. So we took her to the vet, then the vet eye doctor, and she was 100% blind with Sudden Acute Retinal Degeneration, a rare condition that affects 4000 dogs per year in the US.

It was a big adjustment. Jasmine by choice stayed mostly in our mudroom during the day, then our bedroom at night. It took a few months before she was willing to go for a walk again, but would go about a half a mile. She always accepted a pat from a stranger or sniff from another dog. I tried using a few different halo harnesses on her to protect her snout from being bumped, but she really didn't like them. I had one that was so cute, and had little angel wings on it. I tried putting odor stickers around, baby bumpers on edges, anything I thought would help her. After about 3 months, she wanted to play soccer again in the yard. I'd kick the ball ahead of her, she'd find it and wag her tail, then I'd kick it again, and we'd do that for 20 minutes or so. She also could find ALL the deer poop in the yard, blind or not! I put a 6 foot leash on her, and she could roam around our 2+ acres freely. I admired her spirit, her bravery, and was so proud of her for adjusting to being blind. She was so gentle and sweet, although she got a bit fat without the frisbee playing. One more nickname--Jasmine big boo-tay.

The next year, we found a lump under her right ear. Our vet was afraid it was a tumor, so we went back to the ENT and he said her middle ear had separated from her outer ear, something common with chronic otitis. Jasmine then had surgery to remove the middle ear, leaving her completely deaf on the left, and her right ear had reduced hearing, so her world was getting smaller.

So we muddled along, Zoe being an increasingly aggressive dog (see her story), Layla with her arthritis, Jasmine being blind and mostly deaf, and Roxie having some anxiety/PTSD from a dog attack we went through when she was about a year old. Every night at 9 pm, Jasmine would want to go out for her bathroom break, have a treat, and then go upstairs to bed. I had a special area with a blanket on the floor for her, a fan to provide vibration so she knew where she was, give her her ear drops and thyroid medicine, then get on the floor with her, pet her, and whisper into her right ear that she was a good girl, and that I loved her. She would then settle down for the night...until about 5 am!

Things with Zoe had gotten to the breaking point, and we said goodbye to her on 7/5/18 (again, see Zoe's story). I was so sad, but thought I'd now be able to devote more time to the other three girls. I thought maybe I could get Jasmine to come lie down in the kitchen on a bed, maybe try to go for more walks, and see if there was another halo or harness to help her get around better.

It was a Friday morning, and we got up as usual, but Jasmine didn't eat her breakfast, which was definitely unusual. She loved her food, and was a bit overweight. She drank two bowls of water, then slept for a few hours, which again was unusual as she usually wanted to go out every 2 hours or so. She didn't vomit, had a little diarrhea, but accepted a few treats, so I thought maybe she ate something in the yard. She wagged her tail for me so I went on to work that evening. When I came home at 2 am, she got up, went out in the yard to pee, then up to bed as usual, but seemed to be panting a bit harder than usual, so I figured I'd take her to the vet in the morning, just to be sure, since I had to work again the next evening.

That morning, just four hour later, she looked awful, was panting hard, trembling, had a dry nose, would not eat or drink, and her back legs collapsed when she went to do a pee. I loaded her right into the car and went to the vet. The assistants had to carry her from my car to the exam room, and our vet took one look and said, oh, no. Her temperature was 105 and her back legs had no movement or feeling. The vet said the options were to take her to a specialty vet clinic an hour away for extensive testing, but that she thought Jasmine had a spinal tumor and infection, and even if they proved it, nothing could be done, so the best thing was to let her go. She left the room for me to think about it.

I could not believe it. I could not accept it. I cried and swore. I held Jasmine's head in my lap and covered her face with my tears and kisses. I called my husband and we decided that we would not put her through anything else, and let her go. The vet gave her the shot in her back leg, so she would not feel it, and I held her, whispering in her right ear that we loved her so much, that she was the best girl in the world, that we would miss her, and see her in heaven. She took a few breaths, and died. I stayed with her for another 15 minutes, stroking her soft fur, then covered her with the blanket and left.

I will miss our walks and playing soccer ball in the back yard. I will miss hugging and kissing her, doing our bedtime routine of pets, kisses, and saying I love you, Jazzy, you are my good girl. My hope is now she is pain free, with her vision and hearing restored, playing frisbee and romping with Zoe in dog heaven. We will miss you, sweet girl.
Comments would be appreciated by the author, Carole Levy
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