Monday, December 6, 2010
Today I Mourn
We got Jasper in 1996. I wanted a Jack Russell and wanted to adopt a dog. I thought I could give a rescue dog a second chance and a good life. Anybody that knows Jack Russells know that they are big dogs in a small body - they are a highly energetic, happy, happy, happy, play, play, play kind of dog. They are sometimes purchased or adopted because of their small size and clean appearance by people who don't understand their prey drive, hunting background and need for a lot of exercise. So they are often surrendered because of behavior issues that arise from a lack of mental stimulation and physical activity.
In 1996 - the AKC had not yet "recognized" the breed. There were no "Parson Russell Terriers" yet. Only Jack Russell terriers who were registered by the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America. The JRTCA was and still is determined to preserve the working characteristics of the breed. In 1996 there was not the confusing array of rescues that exist now. There was no Petfinder. To adopt a JRT I went to the only source I knew - the national rescue that was run by the JRTCA. I was denied because we didn't have a fenced yard.
So I did what any determined dog lover would do. I contacted a breeder. She had a pet quality puppy that would be perfect for me. I didn't really want a puppy - I wanted to give an older dog a home. But what's a girl to do? The breeder didn't ask me if I had a fenced yard. She did give me a lot of information about the exercise requirements and breed characteristics of Jack Russell terriers. So the puppy came to live with us. We named him Jasper.
We lived in four locations over the years without fenced yards: Maryland, Texas and two in Wisconsin. We don't like fenced yards. We choose to live in subdivisions without fences. Jasper never ran away. He never got lost.
Jasper and I went to Jack Russell events. He enjoyed everything. He did Jack Russell racing, Go to Ground, agility, obedience. He achieved his Canine Good Citizen certificate. He flew under the seat in the cabin on airplanes. But his true love was flyball. We played on Just Say Go, a flyball team in Texas from 1998 until 2005 when we moved to Wisconsin. We then joined Hair Force One, a team that we played on until he retired at the age of twelve. We travelled around Texas, Missouri, Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa staying in hotel rooms and playing flyball.
Was I such a bad owner? Did I really not deserve a rescue dog? I guess I'll never really know or understand.
So today I mourn. I mourn for my beloved Jasper. But more than that, I mourn for the dog I could have adopted and given a good life to. And I mourn for the hundreds of thousands of dogs that have lost their lives because of denied adoptions. When one is saved - room is made for another.