Second Dog Story
Dogs were the last thing on our minds as we left South Carolina in 1970 for California, a two year old on the back seat with chicken pox and a four year old pending. Four years later, medical residency behind us, lightning struck. My rich uncle, Sam, needed an internist in Southeast Asia.
“OK, you’re going away to the jungle for a year. The kids and I need a dog.”
I left for the jungle. Millie and the kids got a dog. Millie’s best friend Bev had a new litter of boxer pups and Belle was the pick. Tragedy struck early, though, and Belle met an unfortunate end as a hyperactive pup. Sweet Jasmine, a littermate, replaced her quickly, living up to the name, the sweetest ugly dog around.
A year later, I returned from the jungle. The second grader and the fourth grader went to their respective bedrooms, but Jasmine remained on guard at the foot of her mistress’s and now her new master’s bed, and did so most nights the next twelve years. Even a sweet young boxer can leave a trail, though.
Newly planted 15 gallon shrubs were ripped from the hard adobe soil and lovingly placed at the back door. A neighbor’s incautious and taunting pet rabbit also ended up at the door licked to death, not a scratch on it.
Probably the most aggravating and enduring habit was her bolting the front door. It usually occurred as we were leaving for church, a movie, or the airport.
“Lookout, Dad! Here comes Jasmine!” just as a brown streak cleared an impossibly small opening of the front door. Down the street, across a busy intersection and into the heart of town, the chase was on. She would tire of the game after a mile or so, and we usually found her smiling, sitting on a curb near the kids’ school.
The game went on for 2-3 years. We tried every trick we heard of. We stood outside the door with buckets of ice water and doused her as she came through. We tied a long cord to her collar and stomped on it as she got halfway across the yard. All this was just part of the fun. The game continued.
One day, working in the rock garden, I heard the alarm as Jasmine bolted the front door. The world turned red. Reflexly and raging, I grabbed a handful of pebbles and peppered her as she ran by. She stopped, sat down more stunned than hurt, and never bolted the front door or any door again. We never know.
Jasmine was ten, getting up there in big dog years, when we moved back to South Carolina in 1984. She and Sherman, the orange cat, flew back dog/cat class on Delta. I’ll have to digress here to bring you up to snuff on Sherman.
We never had much luck or desire for cats prior to Sherman and his was an unplanned adoption. Neighbors across the street moved to some exotic foreign land two years before we left California. The morning after they left, we found a note pinned to a sweater in our car.
“Found this sweater Greg left at our house. Oh, by the way, we couldn’t find Sherman before we left. Greg knows him well and you’ll grow to love him. Bye!”
Jasmine had two more good years in our new home in South Carolina. Sherman had another good 10-12 years, in spite of his name and a couple of lockups in the Horry County pound. After Jasmine, we had no more dogs until our move to the farm, nearly 18 years later. But that’s another story.