He came in to our lives like a wrecking ball at 4 years old and changed our lives completely. All of a sudden, this matted ball of fluff dictated our every move. We didn't know then just how poorly his mind was. All we knew was that he needed love, and we all promptly fell head over heels for him.
Jasper would bite you at the drop of a hat. You could be tickling him one moment and the next you'd be shrinking from his teeth.
But still we loved him.
We had him assessed for pain, we had trainers assess him, vets too. Outwardly he looked perfectly fine and healthy. But, once or twice a week he'd have what we began to call 'absences'. His soft puppy eyes would glaze, his expression would change, and we learned that these were the most dangerous times, he bit us all...often...or at least tried to! We learned to see the warning signs, we learned how to talk him down, calm his fears...and as he came out of it, he'd offer his paw...and we'd tell him he didn't have to say sorry, we understood he couldn't help it, that he had nothing to be fearful for. "It's ok baby, youre ok.".
In time it was clear he and Harvey were never going to get on. Jasper bullied Harvey terribly. At first Harvey fought back, and it was heart-wrenching, but over the months/years, Harvey learned to turn his face away when Jasper bombarded him with nips to the nose and headbutts. Thing is, Harvey started withdrawing. My old boy wasn't the same...I couldn't move without Jasper barking and Harvey couldn't move without Jasper bullying him. Lee and I began sleeping separately so Jasper wasn't triggered by Harvey's movements during the night. Jasper, this broken little ball of madness was breaking us. That's when Mumma Iceni stood in.
In hindsight, I think this was Jasper's plan all along! Because immediately we could tell, Jasper had found his person. He lived for Mum, and she for him. Milo, Mum's other dog accepted Jasper, but whilst we could see the room lit up for him whenever he had eyes on Mum...Jasper's behaviour gradually became worse. Whatever was wrong in his mind...was slowly becoming more wrong. The absences turned into seizures and his quality of life diminished, he was confused and fearful and ultimately we had to make that horrific decision that has you question yourself over and over, makes you sick with sadness, makes you wonder who the hell do you think you are, makes you wish to all the gods please, make it be anyone else but me who has to decide this.
We had five years of our beautiful Jasper. Living for him was such hard work, he made me explode with frustration often, but I wouldn't change it.
We never found out what happened to him before he found us. We don't know if he was born with brain damage, or damage was caused to him in his early life and got worse as he aged.
All we know is when he came to us he was physically terribly neglected, his fur was so matted in his paws it caused him pain. The hair in his ears was so heavy and knotted it pulled on the sensitive skin, he flinched when our hands went near his head. He couldn't use stairs, and even at the end of his life he struggled with them. When we walked him, he was desperate to turn back home as soon as we got out of the gate, that never changed, he would poo as close to the house as he could and run back in, he would never venture too far...it seemed to me that in those early days, he didnt have a chance to. He never knew how to be a dog, no matter how hard we tried to help him be, or how hard he tried, and he did, for fleeting moments, then he'd run and hide as if someone was going to tell him off, and break our hearts all over again.
And now, he's gone and it has cut us all so deeply. This dog who was the epitome of antisocial, this dog who'd love you then bite you within a second, this beautiful complicated, hurt soul made such a huge impact on us, and his leaving has left us reeling, it hurts so much more than we could ever have imagined.
So many people asked us why we put up with him, with his viciousness and relentless barking that chipped away at your very soul. With the way he dictated our lives, who we saw, when we saw them, etc. Some people were so cruel with their words towards him, "shoot him" they'd say and I'd mumble under my breath, "not before i shoot you, you shit."
The answer to why we put up with it, why we changed our whole lives for Jasper is very simple - we loved him...and always will.