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Naples, Italy to Leavenworth, Kansas

A Dog's Journey

By Dr. Linda L. Faris 

 

Beth first spotted Jasper in 1991 in an orchard where she walked near Naples.  He was a lanky black and white stray dog scrounging in the trash by a shack.  In dog years he was a teenager, and he was getting into trouble.  His life-expectancy at that point numbered in days.  The local farmers threatened to put an end to his scavenging.  Beth made friends with the ornery pup and eventually he came home with her to stay.  Who would have ever thought this remarkable creature would end up in my Weston office twelve years later suffering from cancer?

 

Beth gave Jasper a wonderful life.  In Beth's words, "Jasper is a dog's dog!  He likes to dig and bark and scrap with other dogs.  He chases rabbits and squirrels.  Sometimes he catches one."  She cringes to think of it.  Beth's heart is so soft and big it encompasses all living creatures, especially the homeless and the needy.  She manages more than her share. 

 

In the winter of 2003, Jasper was diagnosed with lung cancer.  Beth was given the usual recommendations of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  Even thoracic surgery was discussed.  For a multitude of reasons, Beth could not put Jasper through the recommended treatments.  She decided to take the best care of Jasper that she could, and let nature take its course. 

 

In October of that year, I gave a talk about alternative medicine at a Human Animal Bond meeting in Leavenworth, Kansas.  During the talk, I discussed some of the alternative treatments I offer for my cancer patients.  Hearing of safe treatment options that could extend Jasper's life and maintain the quality of his life at the same time gave Beth new hope.  She brought him to see me and I've been managing his medical care ever since.  He has been a trouper and has rebounded from several life-threatening episodes.  It has been two and half years since he was diagnosed.  Now, at 14, it isn't the cancer that threatens Jasper's life, but his heart and back that are wearing out.  Even though his days are numbered, he is an inspiration to those of us who know him. 

 

Like our own story, a dog's story is unpredictable.  Jasper was fortunate to have found Beth in Italy.  But his No Descriptionfortune has been repaid in multiples.  Everyone who has known this brilliant dog has been blessed by his love.  Beth's two children, Aidan and Anna have never known life without this loving companion.  I feel very fortunate to have been included in this last leg of Jasper's journey.  He and his people have touched me repeatedly as I watch the true beauty of loving relationships unfold in my office.  It is comforting to know that family values are alive and well in America.  Well, at least in Kansas.