2014-06-11 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

“Chance is perhaps the pseudonym of God when he does not wish to sign his work.” - Anatole France (1844-1924)

Or do beloved, departed dogs send us their successors to help heal broken hearts? Some distraught owners think so. What’s the chance that “Jasmine,” an Afghan Hound in need of placement, would arrive when she herself was most needed? That is precisely what happened.

Jasmine’s situation is one of those rescue stories where we will never know which accusations are true and which are bad blood between estranged family members, but meanwhile the dog was in need because her real owner had died and the rest of the family could not get along. Turns out that Jasmine herself helped rescue a devoted Afghan Hound caretaker from the depths of grief in a pairing that appears to be heaven sent.

Jasmine surfaced in November 2013, less than two weeks after the sudden illness and death of five-yearold “Jin Jin,” an exceptional Afghan Hound whose accomplishments have been chronicled here several times, most recently in Beacon “Pets” 12/3/13. Some “Pets” readers will be familiar with Jin Jin’s amazing work on behalf of senior citizen shut-ins and struggling young readers, as well as her triumph at a NYC fashion show plus her skills in agility and lure coursing. Jin Jin was a wonderful ambassador for her breed.

Jasmine earned her Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title last month. Jasmine earned her Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title last month. On a Thursday evening last fall, NBC News commentator Pat Battle featured Jin Jin in a TV segment about Canine Caregivers, her NJ therapy dog group. That Monday, Jin Jin crashed without warning and had emergency surgery. Despite miraculous efforts in the ICU at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, she succumbed quickly to a fast-moving abdominal cancer.

Thirteen days later we got an urgent call from a LI woman who said that her stepdaughter was going through a bad divorce and about to lose her home. This woman and her new husband had placed Jasmine, his eight-year-old female Afghan Hound, with the stepdaughter a few months before when they sold the home that the man had shared with his late first wife (who had purchased Jasmine as a puppy from a breeder in New Orleans). They had moved into a condo with the new wife’s cats. The complex didn’t allow dogs. The stepdaughter had to give her late mother’s Afghan back to them that weekend so the couple was asking Afghan Hound Rescue for help. Later on we suspected the dog was also caught in a family feud. ( Ironically, about a year before, our breed rescue had transported and placed two dozen of Jasmine’s assumed relatives after the Louisiana breeder died.)

The couple provided vet records and signed Jasmine over to me. Since the Afghan Hound Rescue community is close knit, when our dogs are related, we consider each other family. We arranged a dual-custody foster home in NJ. Jasmine spent two weeks with Susan who owns “Tula,” one of the 67 New Mexico hoarder Afghans, kin to my Edgar Afghan Poe, and then went to Annette and Rick in Toms River who have two rescued Afghans (including “Rebecca,” another New Mexico rescue). They had just lost dear Jin Jin (Afghan rescue, therapy dog, fashion show queen extraordinaire) to that sudden and aggressive cancer. Annette was beyond consolation because her bond with Jin Jin was so strong. She was her “heart dog.” We were so worried about her.

Jasmine showed up and in a gentle way eased Annette’s pain. Although the Afghans were different colors, their parallels were uncanny. Both Jin Jin and Jasmine (two syllable names beginning with “J”) had come to Annette from a “Shelly” going through a divorce. Jasmine slept with her and wrapped her leg around Annette’s neck just like Jin Jin. She began visiting a 93-year-old shut-in senior citizen at her home just like Jin Jin. She enjoyed car rides as Annette’s co-pilot as Jin Jin had been. She helped herself to the cookie bin at Petco in the same sneaky way as Jin Jin.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Yes, you can, especially when the dog has a determined training partner like Annette who sees pup potential. “At the end of May, Jasmine graduated from obedience school at the top of her class,” boasts Annette, “and then she passed her Canine Good Citizen test and earned her CGG. Other owners wanted Jasmine as their dog’s partner for the meet in the middle of the room part of the test.” Next hurdle is to take the therapy dog test to become certified so Jasmine can work with Canine Caregivers and be a library reading buddy with Tailwagging Tutors just like Jin Jin. Jasmine loves everyone from kids to seniors, and meshes perfectly with Rebecca and Noah, her new Afghan siblings. As Annette and

Rick say: “Jasmine is perfect.”

Shortly after surrender, the stepdaughter inquired about the whereabouts of her late mother’s dog and asked about getting her back. We all, including Annette, left that possibility open, as I angsted about taking Jasmine away from her. After several months, she was still not settled in a new house and she too agreed that Jasmine was in the best of hands. The dog’s best interest is rescue’s priority. In fact, Afghan Hound Rescue’s mantra is: “The Hounds First.”

Was the timing a coincidence? A new dog can never supplant the love and memories of a previous dog. Each dog in our life is unique. There will never be another Jin Jin. However, we want to believe that there is a Rainbow Bridge. Somehow Jin Jin sensed Annette’s intense grief and sent this Afghan angel named Jasmine to comfort her during her time of greatest sorrow.

For Adoption at Babylon Animal Shelter (631- 643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: “Marshall” 14-237 is a mellow Pit who walks well on a leash and sits on command, while “Bandit” 4-125 is a playful Russian Blue mix kitten around nine months old who had his eye surgically removed after being found with a severe infection. He’s a doll. Still waiting: “Jimmy” Norwegian Elkhound 14-247.

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