Jasper the Friendly Dog

Jasper in the kitchen
1995 – July 1, 2009
Jasper died Wednesday morning, July 1, just before arriving at Discovery Schoolhouse.  He has been a fixture at the school since 1996.  He was 14 years old, which is nearly 100 in “dog years,” so he was, indeed, a very, very old dog.  He had been noticeably tired and off his food for about a week.  When he visited the vet on Monday it was shocking to realize just how weak and ill he had suddenly become.  The prognosis was bleak.  Although exhausted, he did not seem to be suffering in any way.

DSCN3923_2Jasper grew up with children at Discovery Schoolhouse and at home with Brian’s family.  He spent nearly every day of his long and happy life surrounded by children.  He tolerated being dressed up in hats, sunglasses, dresses, and blankets; being ridden upon like a horse; being poked, prodded, and hugged vigorously; being brushed and patted in the wrong direction; having his ears and tail pulled, and being lead down the driveway by many, many preschoolers.  He never bit, hardly ever snarled, and only barked when he wanted company.  He was a great dog!

When one of the school’s animals dies, we usually go through a routine of explaining it to the children, talking about what happened, and burying the animal together.  With Jasper, we could not follow this routine.  His place at the school was unique.  Additionally, many children have been absent due to the holiday.  So, we will instead be speaking with the children over the next week, and doing a few activities.  It would be helpful to us if you also spoke with your child a bit about it at home

Jasper’s Story

Jasper and friendJasper walked into Discovery Schoolhouse one day in January 1996 with a family who had come to pick up their child.  Of course, his name wasn’t Jasper yet.  The family stayed for a long time, reading stories and playing with the children for almost an hour.  Meanwhile, Jasper had the run of the school, and it was fun to have this playful, gentle dog in the classroom.  When the family finally decided to leave, the dog stayed.  Brian called to the family as they got into their car, “Hey, you forgot your dog!”  but they said that it wasn’t their dog! They had thought it belonged to someone else at the school.  It was just a lucky coincidence that Jasper walked through the door at the same time they did!  Jasper was definitely a very young dog, almost a puppy.  He had a collar and a tag with a phone number, but no one answered the phone when we called.  Brian took him home for the night, and tried again the next day.  It turned out that the phone number was not for Jasper’s owner, and the person there couldn’t help.  Over the next few weeks whenever we walked around Hyde Park we took Jasper and asked anyone we saw if they knew him, but no one did.  We called the Milton and Boston dog pounds, but no one ever reported him missing.

Jasper and a fanAfter a while Brian’s family decided to keep Jasper and gave him his name.  The vet said he was about six months old.  Jasper came to Discovery Schoolhouse with Brian every day.  When he was little he liked to catch snowballs in his mouth and grab children’s mittens as they ran.  He knew lots of tricks.  He would jump over sticks and through hula-hoops on commend.  He could balance a treat on his nose and wait to hear “OK” to toss it up and snatch it out of the air.  JasperHe would sit and lie down to hand signals (even if the person giving the signal was a toddler).  He could shake hands and shake his whole body on commend.  When he wanted water, he would pick up his dish and drop it.  He had his own cubby, where he used to get his own toys  – and occasionally return them himself.  He never took things from other cubbies, even though they usually had very tempting lunches in them.  He only chewed his own toys.  At home he would watch out the window when he heard a car in the driveway.  He greatest fault was that he liked to run off when given the chance, but he always returned eventually.  He seemed to know when a child was holding his leash, and would stop pulling and tugging (unless a squirrel caught his eye).  He was gentle with all people, and never minded babies and toddlers crawling right over him.  He will be missed every day.  He was the best dog ever!

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