Veronika and I never imagined a dog could mean so much to us, but Jasper was much more than “just a dog.” He was a part of our family, and he was my best friend.
I don’t know if and when I’ll post on here again, so I wanted to write a final tribute to our dear J. I have to admit I’ve been putting it off for several weeks. This blog became such a part of Jasper’s life, that I’m afraid when I stop writing we’ll lose another piece of him. Who knows, maybe the “The Adventures of Jumping Jasper-Roo” will become “The Adventures of Jumping Jasper-Roo and Zooey, too.”
But, I’m not going to worry about that now. Today’s entry is a celebration of Jasper’s life and all the things we loved and miss about him.
Thanks for sticking with us on this journey. Thanks for the kind words of love and support. And thanks for reading.
For Jasper’s tribute, we have included a collection of our favorite photos and jotted down some memories spanning the course of Jasper’s nine years with us.
Photo: Jasper’s first night at home, October 2001
We finally made it home after a long, stressful journey from Fargo with Jasper howling from his crate on the backseat for most of the way!
As you’ll see, even as he grew bigger and bigger, sitting on the couch with us was one of J’s favorite things to do!
Photo: Our first family portrait, Fall 2001
Photo: V and Jasper on the way to puppy class, Fall 2001
Being a shy dog, Jasper never really cared that much for the puppy socialization class. Most nights he’d just hide under the table while the other dogs played. Eventually, he came out of his shell and played with another puppy or two.
Photo: Jasper and “Panda” – his first favorite toy
Photo: Como Lake, Fall 2001
This was Jasper’s first trip to the lake; long before he learned to love water as much as peanut butter and mini carrots. I still really like this photo because he has such a “Jasper face” in a really small body.
Photo: J’s first Christmas, 2001
Jasper was always there with us for family gatherings. He was never content to just chill on the floor, though. He always tried to climb onto someone’s lap to see what was happening up in “people land.”
Photo: Jasper and Tomo, 2002
As I’ve said before, Jasper was the calmest Vizsla in town. Unless Tomo was around! The two of them would wrestle and bite and chase each other around the yard for hours on end. Tomo, an Akita, eventually grew four times as big as Jasper, but they were still best friends for a brief time during Jasper’s youth.
Photo: J with Jon, Jody and their dog Chip
This shot was taken on J’s first road trip – a five hour drive to see our friends in South Dakota. Chip was also a youngster at the time and the two of them wrestled around the basement most of the night. Needless to say, Jasper was totally spent for several days after the trip.
Photo: Jasper and Todd, 2002
This is one of my all-time favorite photos of J. As the years went by his hair turned whiter and whiter, but when this was taken he was a youngster with a gorgeous red coat.
Photo: A hot summer day, 2003
When J was younger we’d often go to meetings of the Twin Cities Vizsla Club. I remember this particular gathering was on an especially warm day. I love the expression on J’s face because he seems to be saying, “This is it? This crappy little pool is the best you can do?”
Photo: Everybody in the water, 2003
Jasper was an excellent swimmer, but the “yum-yum yellow” life jacket made it easier to lift him in and out of my parents’ boat.
Photo: Best friends, 2004
Zooey arrives! As I previously blogged, Zooey’s arrival in the spring of 2004 turned our tranquil abode into a mad house. Zooey was all-play, all-the-time. This was a rare moment of calm for both dogs.
Photo: Jasper, Zooey, Sebastian and mom at White Bear Lake, 2004
This is another one of my all-time favorite photos. My mom is really the one who taught me to love animals. She also loved our dogs just about as much as her grandkids!
As I mentioned before, due to a childhood incident there was a time when I was terrified of dogs. One of Jasper’s greatest gifts was to help me overcome that fear.
Photo: It’s only Rock n’ Roll, 2004
Since I’m a drummer, Jasper grew up in a rock and roll house. Veronika used to tell me that during our loudest jams in the basement, he’d be sound asleep on the couch. No wonder Jasper never minded thunderstorms or loud noises too much.
Photo: Nap time
Like most dogs, Jasper really enjoyed sleeping. After he was house-trained, we let him sleep outside his crate at night. I think we’d read something about how “dogs will find their own place to sleep in the house.” Jasper’s favorite spot was the living room couch.
Each morning he’d sneak into our bedroom like a little kid. If he had to go outside, he’d quietly walk over to my side of the bed and rest his chin two inches from my face until I woke up. Most mornings, though, he’d hop onto the foot of the bed and wiggle his way into a nice, comfy spot right between V and I.
If Veronika was traveling, Jasper would usually just skip the couch all together and sleep on the bed with me. Throughout the night, he’d get up and then crash down closer and closer to me. By morning he’d be all sprawled out and I’d be lying on the last sliver of the bed just about to fall over the edge!
Besides the couch and our bed, he particularly enjoyed sleeping outside in the sun. As soon as the temperature got comfortable enough in the spring, he would seek out a sunny spot in the back-yard for a nap. Throughout summer and fall, on sunny days, he could often be found sleeping on his side in the grass in the yard.
Oh, and Jasper was by far the loudest sleeper in the house. He could snore with the best of them. During his last night with us, I remember waking up several times and just listening to the sound of him sleeping.
Photo: Minnehaha Dog Park, Winter 2004
Remember how I said Jasper loved water? No, he REALLY loved water! So much so, that he’d hop in and go for a swim in the middle of winter. See that white stuff in the photo? That’s ice and snow!
Speaking of snow, J absolutely loved playing in it – and digging in the drifts!
Photo: Road Trip!
Lucky for us, both Jasper and Zooey loved riding in the car.
Photo: Wisconsin, Fall 2007
V and I and the dogs visited a lot of dog-friendly cabins over the years, but one of our favorites was a little B&B called Justin Trails outside Sparta, Wisconsin. The place has acre upon acre of fields, forests, hills and hiking trails. And a gorgeous little private cabin!
Photo: Hiking in Wisconsin, 2008
Photo: Exploring the north woods near Ely, Minnesota
Photo: Who’s walking who?
Jasper was great at a lot of things, but walking on leash wasn’t one of them! He never really figured out the whole “heel” thing. In this shot, my dad’s boat – and the water! – are a couple steps away, so we had a little extra motivation to get going.
Photo: Lake Superior, Spring 2010
Looking back at this photo, I remember this was a particularly bittersweet trip for us.
During the spring of 2010, J’s cancer was under control, but we still knew this was probably going to be one of our last trips together. Veronika and I and the dogs spent a wonderful weekend hiking and relaxing along the north shore of Lake Superior.
Photo: Minnehaha Dog Park, Summer 2010
Jasper just loved the dog park! After awhile, whenever he heard the words “dog park” he’d start bouncing around the house and barking.
“We’re going to the dog park! We’re going to the dog park!”
In an attempt to avoid the frenzy and barking, we soon switched over to calling it the DP.
Photo: Minnehaha Dog Park, Summer 2010
Jasper was the perfect friend for an introvert, and the Minnehaha Dog Park was our sanctuary. It became one of my favorite places in the world. So much so, that I’m not sure if I can ever go back there again.
Jasper, Veronika and I probably went to that dog park more than 500 times over the years. We loved the peaceful wooded trails, the long stretches of sandy beach and watching the seasons come and go.
When it was just Jasper and I, we’d walk down different paths and explore in silence. If there is a heaven, mine has a sandy beach where I can sit on the shore and watch Jasper swim until his heart’s content.
Photo: Making a new friend at the Minnehaha Dog Park, Summer 2010
Photo: Resting at home, Summer 2010 (photo by Sarah Beth Photography)
Vizslas are affectionately known as “velcro dogs” because they always want to be near you, and Jasper was no exception. He would always follow us around the house and whenever we sat down he wanted to be right there next to us.
One of his favorite things in the world was to sit with V or I on the living room couch and chew on his purple toy. Can’t tell you how many of those toys we went through over the years, but I have to say it’s one of our favorite memories and something we really miss.
Photo: Another perfect day in the backyard, Summer 2010 (photo by Sarah Beth Photography)
Vizslas are part of the sporting breed, so it’s no surprise that Jasper loved to chase after everything from tennis balls and sticks to rocks (thrown in the water) and snow balls (that disappeared in the snow!). The part about bringing it back, well, that’s another story.
Photo: Veronika and Jasper share a tender moment, Summer 2010 (photo by Sarah Beth Photography)
Photo: Happy Dog! (photo by Sarah Beth Photography)
Photo: Veronika, Todd and Jasper (photo by Sarah Beth Photography)
While the last year of Jasper’s life was extremely difficult, in some ways it was also our best year together because it was filled with moments of pure joy. He was so incredibly brave and strong throughout the whole ordeal. More so than I probably would have been. Throughout his life, Jasper brought such love and light into our world.
Photo: Jasper in a reflective moment (photo by Sarah Beth Photography)
Photo: Jasper on his last trip to the dog park, October 2, 2010
I didn’t realize until we had returned home and was flipping through the photos on the camera, that Veronika had taken this shot.
This image really means the world to me.
The photo was taken on Jasper’s last trip to the Minnehaha Dog Park the day before he passed away.
J and I walked these trails so many times over the years. No matter how many times we went, though, I always loved visiting this dog park because of the sheer joy that it brought Jasper. I was never more at peace than when we were off exploring the Minnehaha Dog Park together.
Moments like this are the ones that I’ll remember forever.
Jasper, to us, you were truly the best dog in the world. You had such a gentle soul and were a great friend to both of us. You taught us about patience and perseverance. You showed us how to slow down and look around, and that a pat on the back or a hike in the woods can bring the greatest joy in this world. We both love you very much. We miss you, and we’ll remember you forever, Jasper.