It was a beautiful July day and my Siberian husky was secured in the back of my pocket-rocket hatchback. He fussed and whined with impatience. I tried to calm him a bit by telling him we going to pick up Amy and Bo. Amy was a technician at the first clinic at which I worked, and Bo was her absurdly smart Border Collie. They were our two best friends. My husky knew them by name, or at least he knew "Amy and Bo" meant a long walk at some wild place.
On the way to pick up our hiking companions, my dog and I passed Jasmine's house. The sight transported me from this hot, humid July day back to the previous winter - the winter a big Rottweiler entered our lives.
It was near Christmas time when Amy and I first spotted Jasmine in her dog pen. She was in that pen every time we passed… never playing in the snow with her family or snuggling with them around the fireplace. Instead, she was enclosed by chain-link with only a non-insulated, thin-plastic crate for shelter. It would have been unsuitable for any breed, but for a Rottweiler, it was exceptionally cruel.
Winter in Ohio brought subzero temperatures and the year we first spotted Jasmine was no exception. For Jasmine, the winter was being made even more bitter by a lack of care. Ohio winters are cold, but not so cold as some human hearts.
Soon after we spotted Jasmine out in the cold, I was shopping for holiday gifts for my family. As usual, I had overspent my budget, but I hadn't overspent on that perennial holiday spirit which overrides all else. I knew I had one more gift to buy: An insulated doghouse.
The biggest obstacle was getting it to Jasmine. Neither Amy nor I had had ever met Jasmine's owners. I was fearful they would be offended and refuse the gift, or worse. We would have to plan this carefully.
We loaded up the new doghouse and a bail of straw and drove to Jasmine's home. After circling her home several times, and strategically parking so we could make a quick getaway if all did not go as planned, we knocked on the door.
"Hi, we had this extra dog house that we have no use for, and we noticed that your dog doesn't have a house, so we thought you might be able to use it... we just don't have any use for it, and it's just been laying around, so if you'd like it, well, your dog could have it. Oh, and we happened to have this straw to line the floor of the house... you can have that too… we don't need it, we just had this extra straw..."
It came out something like that.
Soon, Jasmine had a new doghouse lined with straw. Though I doubt the almanac would support my assertion, I believe that winter suddenly warmed a bit.
Recalling that event on this July afternoon as we traveled to pick up Amy and Bo, I noticed Jasmine wasn't in her pen. This was most unusual since they never seemed to take her out. On closer inspection, I realized Jasmine, her doghouse, and her water bucket were gone.
I had no way of knowing what had become of Jasmine. It was hard to imagine that her fate could have been worse than being relegated to spending every day and night in a pen alone. I wanted to believe she was now with someone who would love her, care for her, and would never let her spend a winter without a warm doghouse. I wanted most desperately to believe she was with someone who, at this very moment, was loading her in the back of a car and driving to a local park for a nice afternoon walk-- just as my dog and I were doing on this July day. Perhaps we would meet Jasmine and her new owner there.
Amy, our dogs, and I had a very nice walk at the park that day. We plodded through the woods, played in the water, and arrived home tired and content from a day's adventures.
We didn't see Jasmine there. We never saw Jasmine again.
Ohio winters can be unpredictable. They can be as warm as a dog's head on your lap one moment, and as cold as ice the next. Likewise, its summers can be intensely hot, or they can send a cold shiver up your spine, as on that July afternoon when Jasmine was gone.
I never believed in Santa Claus, but I do believe we can all play the role. We can give the gifts of compassion and kindness to all the creatures on earth, no matter the season.