Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Jasperillous Espinoza von Tragerberg Smith the Third

I promised you the sweet story of how we met our Jasper, and so I shall relate it. Here is the long version, even though the short version is nice too.

As already discussed, we decided to go backpacking in the Rockies near Boulder. Based on the suggestion of the Forest Service worker, we decided to go to Jasper Lake for our first (and actually, only) night. On our hike in, we met some friends of ours from Linguistics hiking out with their dog. We had heard about him as a puppy, but never got the chance to meet him. As Peter and I petted him, we mentioned how excited we were for the day we would get our own dog, as we had been waiting for this since moving to Boulder almost four years ago. (Foreshadowing!)

We made it to Jasper Lake, fished, got bitten by mosquitos, woke up very sore and decided to cut the trip short and hike out, rather than continuing on. Instead, we took a lovely day hike straight up the side of a mountain, wherein we watched a group of 8 backpackers and a dog almost fall down the rocky slope, and watched a pack actually fall hundreds of feet with baited breath before we could confirm with our binoculars that it was only a pack, and not a very-probably-dead person lying at the bottom.

On our hike out, only a mile or so from the lake, I heard a woman say something to the effect of "Anyone want a dog?" I was thinking it was more along the lines of a joke, like when your kid is misbehaving and you jokingly offer them to a stranger. But no, this woman, Becca, was a foster mom to this dog, whose name happened to be Jasper, just like the lake we had just come from. He seemed very calm and sweet (of course, this was probably six miles into a hike, so most dogs would be at that point!) and she proclaimed him the best dog she had ever fostered. Even better? When we expressed concern that we lived in a condo, she said she did as well and since Jasper was a fence jumper, but had a great temperament, they thought a condo would actually be preferred. She got my phone number to text me the website of the rescue group, and we headed off on our merry ways.

The entire hike down, Peter and I were thinking about Jasper off and on. Could this work out? Could we have just met our dog? All of the reasons we had for concern (condo, lack of time for training, leaving for vacation in a week) had an easy answer with Jasper (fence jumper, only needs fine tuning for training, Becca would love to watch him while we were gone). For some reason, the name of the rescue group, Safe Harbor, stuck in my mind as well. As soon as we got home, I looked them up.

Immediately, I was nervous. "Must have a fenced yard" was right there on the front page. Would they let us be Jasper's parents? Becca said a condo was OK, but what if she was mistaken? We filled out the online application (which was full of seriously intense questions, many of which we didn't have an answer to) and waited. Nothing. A few days later (or less?), Becca let me know Safe Harbor had not gotten the application. Huh? So we filled it out again (thank goodness auto fill remembered most of the answers!). Still nothing, she said. She gave me a number to call so I could fill it out over the phone.

At the end of the phone call with the volunteer slash adoption coordinator, the woman said the next steps were either to adopt Jasper or to foster him for a few days to see how it would go. Woah! At the beginning of the conversation, I wasn't even sure if they would let us have him! Now we could just have him?

Before we did that, we went over to Becca's to see him again, since ten minutes on the trail after many miles of hiking may not be the best indicator for compatibility. At her place, we were even more in love. He seemed to recognize us, or at least sense us for the petting-suckers we are, and stayed by our sides the entire time we were there. He even graced us with his funny smile he gives when he's really excited or happy (like baring his teeth, but friendly and goofy). We were hooked.

A few days later, we met with the Safe Harbor rep, signed some contracts promising to be good to him and he was ours! With all of the stars that had to align for this, it really does feel a little bit fated, or at least, very, very lucky. I honestly still can't believe that he is ours.

Even as I type that, I have a cold little icicle of fear in my heart because one of the things the rep told us was that since he was not surrendered (he was found in Nebraska covered in ticks), theoretically his owner could come back and claim him. Since he is such a good dog, it's clear he was not a stray his whole life and I'm terrified that he jumped a fence somewhere and has a home that misses him terribly. On the other hand, he could have been abandoned by a family overwhelmed. Impossible to say. I just hope that Safe Harbor's record of never having a dog reclaimed holds true for us and he gets to stay with us forever.

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