This story was submitted by a client, William “Bill” Fernekees and is being reprinted with his permission. Bill is submitting this story to the members of Chicken Soup for the Soul for possible inclusion in a future edition.
It was a cold, January morning out on Brigham pond in Hubbardston, MA. The Hubbardston Lions Club 33A, of which I am a member, was having an ice fishing derby fundraiser to assist people in need. The President of our Lions Club, Marty Smith, was an ardent outdoors man, and he bred and raised a mixed breed of German Short Hair, English Pointer dogs. During the event, Marty asked me if I would like to have one of his spayed pups. I needed time to consider Marty’s thoughtful offer, thinking it best to speak with my wife first before I brought home another dog.
Now, I’m not a drinking man, oh, maybe a cold beer, or two, after mowing the lawn on a real hot summer day, but never out on a frozen pond. Sometime after noon, Brother Lion, Bruce Westlund, brought me a large cup of a warm, very tasty drink, saying it would help with the chill. It tasted really good, so I had a few. The chill was gone, and I felt giddy. At the end of the day, Marty again asked me if I would like to have the pup. Instantly I slurred, “Sure would, you bet cha Marty.” The pup turned out to be larger than I had imagined. The dog’s name was Jasmine, and she greeted me by jumping up and licking my face. For both Jasmine and I, it was love at first sight.
Arriving home late, Jasmine slept downstairs. Jasmine loved her room downstairs because she had access to the garage attached to our home. She could move around at her leisure. Jasmine, never hunted, but she was a very nosey, and at times, a noisy dog. We thank God for that, because no one could walk or drive into our driveway without Jasmine barking.
Like a shadow, Jasmine followed us around everywhere. She was our constant companion, and quite often we would all sit under our front deck and relax. Jasmine enjoyed meandering down to her dog house, and watching us work around the yard. It was a Sunday, and Dot was away with our daughter, Julie and the grandchildren. Early that afternoon, after mowing the lawn, I was putting the tools away when Jasmine ran out into the road. I heard screeching of automobile brakes and yelled, “Oh no, not Jasmine.” But it was. By the time I reached her, she had dragged herself into the driveway, and one leg was covered with blood. I immediately telephoned Dr. Michael McTigue at the Gardner Animal Care Center.
Being a Sunday, his answering service gave me a telephone number for emergencies. The on call veterinarian asked me questions and determined Jasmine had no internal injuries. The doctor told me to bathe Jasmine’s wounds, keep her comfortable, give her a baby aspirin and bring her to Dr. Mike’s office in the morning.
While bathing Jasmine’s wounds, I was very nervous, as she whimpered in pain. I had a beer to calm my nerves. Without thinking, noticing Jasmine’s water bowl empty, I poured a beer into it. Jasmine slurped up the beer. I poured her another and before long she was fast asleep.
I telephoned my wife Dot, and told her about Jasmine’s accident. She was devastated by the news and came back home that evening. The next day, we brought Jasmine to see Dr. Mike, and when I told Dr. Mike about Jasmine having a couple of beers, he started laughing and said, “Bill, she only weighs seventy pounds. She must have been feeling pretty good.”
Dr. Mike asked us to leave her with them while he determined the full extent of Jasmine’s injuries. He told us not to worry and he would telephone us when Jasmine was ready to come home. Waiting for the call seemed like an eternity. When it came, we immediately went to bring Jasmine home. We were in the waiting room when our injured Jasmine came limping out. She had a bandaged splint on her leg, and was wearing a large, plastic collar around her neck. Dr. Mike told us that Jasmine’s leg had been broken in two places and the special collar was to prevent her from chewing the bandage.
With tender care, it wasn’t long before Jasmine was back to her old nosey, noisy self. Now it is strange, but I believe Jasmine remembered the day of her accident. After a day of yard work, she knew when it was time to relax under the front deck and enjoy a cold beer. Jasmine would raise her paw, tip over her full water bowl, to show me she wanted a beer. Today, as I recall the times Jasmine tipped over her water dish looking for a beer, I break out in laughter.
Time passed, and our Jasmine, now an old lady, was not her usual nosey, noisy self. We brought Jasmine to the Gardner Animal Care Center, and Dr. Mike did an examination and ran a battery of tests. The results were heartbreaking. He informed us that Jasmine had developed a rapidly spreading, inoperable cancer. Tears started to flow as we asked Dr. Mike if there was anything he could do. He prescribed medication to ease her pain, but he couldn’t tell us how long she would survive. With the medication and our care, Jasmine did much better. She took short walks around the yard, barked and relaxed under the deck with Dot and I. It was on a weekday, and Dot was away with our grandchildren. Having a few important matters to attend to downtown, I peered into Jasmine’s room to make sure she was okay. Upon returning home, I opened the garage door and found Jasmine lying on the garage floor. She had dragged herself from her room. I said, “Jasmine, what are you doing?” Jasmine lifted her head, looked me in the eyes, and drew her last breath. Immediately, I drove her to see Dr. Mike, but there was nothing anyone could do. He confirmed Jasmine was gone.
Four years later, that day is still etched in my mind. My dear friend waited for me to return home before she moved on to greener pastures. We miss our Jasmine and think of her often.
Thank you for sharing your story with us Bill.