Sunday, July 13, 2014

Obituary: Jasper, 1999?-2014

Beloved pet and long-time candidate for Best Dog in the World Jasper passed away quietly in his sleep on the afternoon of Tuesday the 8th of July from an overdose of barbituates, in the company of his owners. He was approximately 16 years old. His health had been declining for some time and doctors advised that euthanasia would be more humane then attempting heroic measures. He was preceded in death by Jezebel, his wife and dam of his litter. He is survived by his issue, two of whom, Buster and Mammoth, reside with the Gavins.

His birthdate is unknown but believed to be some time in 1999, and his early life is lost to history. Some sources say he was rescued from an owner who neglected him, others that he passed through several owners, escaping each time until he found a loving home, still others that his early life was far less brutal than has been reported.

Regardless, in 2000 he was adopted by Jim Gavin, noted author of pulp philosophical fantasy novels, and past this point his life is well-known. Jasper's intelligence, strength and agility were above average for a dog of his size and breed and he was capable of many feats. Perhaps his greatest gift, though, was his ability to win the heart of every human he met. This was notably attested to by the brief but memorable "OBEY JASPER" sticker campaign that had the small, tightly-knit college town community of Charlottesville, Virginia abuzz.

In 2001, Jasper survived three days in the wild forests of Virginia after an accident involving an overly-aggressive squirrel that fled upon challenge. His owner searched tirelessly for him, and it is presumed that Jasper did the same. The heartwarming story of survival and reunion was optioned by the ANIMAL PLANET network for a movie of the week but was never produced due to difficulty casting the lead role.

Jasper had many interests, from riding in cars to games of tug-of-war, but his great abiding passion was the people around him. His tireless attention to the needs of others led him to be widely regarded as "the best dog" and thus made him a constant contender for the title of Best Dog in the World, though he never actively campaigned for the honor.

Jasper spent the remaining year of his life at the Gavin family compound, surrounded by family, friends and well-wishers, receiving the best of care and the most sumptuous of foods. Despite living in the lap of luxury, he never lost his humility or his empathy, spending days relaxing in the sun in the company of those he loved, and who loved him.

Upon his passing, Gavin remarked, "He was the best dog I've ever known. And he was, and always will be, my friend."

No flowers, please.