I’ve been a full time mommy to Jasper for almost a month now, and the level of joy in my life has risen exponentially knowing that he is a forever Pepper/Pepper-Fitoussi! I usually shy away from things that tie me down, and responsibility of any sort, but I feel a profound sense of honor and pride knowing that I am caring for this little baby to the best of my ability. He is my angel.
Every morning it is rise and shine around 8am for breakfast and some play time followed by our morning walk, and though I envy Stephane’s sound sleeping come wake up time, I don’t hate that I have some time with Jasper where I don’t have to divide my attention (I almost don’t know who is more needy: the puppy or the boyfriend!). Then after work it is our long outing to our neighborhood dog park where both Jasper and I have formed great friendships with a group of owners and dogs who frequent the park around the same time we do each day. Having a dog is such a great way to meet people in the city!
When Jasper and I arrived at the park yesterday I settled in my usual spot near the center where all of the dogs like to play, watched Jasper chase and hump any and every dog that crossed his path (the boys are by far his favorite though), and then noticed a little boy watching us from the other side of the fence. He seemed very interested in Jasper (in the dogs in general), and after a few minutes I went over to say hello. I told him my name and without hesitation he asked to know which dog was mine. When I pointed out Jasper I could see his excitement growing, and then he asked me if it was ok to come into the park, which I thought was a bit of a strange question seeing as it was a public park. I told him that the entrance was just at the other end and he could come in and play with us whenever he wanted. As he was walking to the gate I turned my attention back to Jasper only to look for the boy a few minutes later to discover that he was really struggling to open the gate. Before I could make it over to help another park visitor let him in and he immediately ran towards me and Jasper with such joy on his face. It was then that I realized he had some form of Autism or mental deficiency.
I had never seen him before since I am relatively new to the park, but according to some of the other regulars this little boy would walk about a mile or so with his mom and little sisters from a neighboring tower just to come and see all of the dogs. You could have offered him all the money in the world and it wouldn’t have made him as happy as being surrounded by playing dogs. He formed a pretty special attachment to Jasper right away since Jasper naturally loves anything that has a pulse! He is a very special dog and I think he knew this little boy needed special attention so he played with him and followed him around the park until the boy practically thought Jasper was his! He was feeding him, protecting him from bigger dogs that he thought might hurt him (he didn’t really understand how dogs play and that barking and biting wasn’t necessarily aggressive), and it was such a sweet thing to witness.
After about an hour it was time for us to head home so Jasper said his goodbyes and we headed back towards the entrance. It was then that one of the other pet owners came up to me and told me how nice it was to see Jasper playing with the little boy because it’s his biggest joy in life to be around dogs, and his dad won’t allow the family to have one. My heart sank to my stomach. I remember when I was growing up the only thing I ever wanted was a dog and my dad wouldn’t allow it. I also remember, shortly after my parent’s separation and divorce, my mom telling us she was going to Target to buy a broom and coming back with a little white, fluffy bundle of joy who would become our first family pet. I was so excited I actually started dry heaving, and it’s a miracle I didn’t pass out from sheer excitement. I felt immensely sad for this little boy for many reasons but especially because of how hard it can be for some people with mental impairments to connect to someone or something like this little boy clearly connected to dogs. That, in my opinion, would make any sacrifice or responsibility on the father’s part completely worth it…
I’ve always known that I will have a wide variety of career opportunities ahead once I get my PhD in Clinical Psychology, but this outing reaffirmed that I want to use animals in some way. Having a dog when I was younger changed my life, and I hope to use animals to change other people’s lives as well! Jasper would be the perfect therapy dog, and if I can incorporate him into my business I will never have to worry about leaving him home during the work day 😉
Other than that Israel is abuzz with everyone getting ready for the High Holidays! Up first is the New Year, Rosh Hashana, then Stephane’s birthday (not a high holiday but still very important), then Yom Kippur followed by Sukkot and Simchat Torah! It will be a busy, fun, reflective time and I can’t wait to fill you in!
I love you to infinity and miss you more and more every day.
Until we meet again <3,