From my perspective: The loss of a friend

Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Michael Kilcullen

Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Michael Kilcullen

By Michael Kilcullen

Michael Kilcullen is a graduate student in the University’s Department of Urban Planning. He has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type 3, a chronic condition that causes his tendons to deteriorate and possibly separate from the muscles and bones they join together. His service dog, Jasmine, died on August 11. Michael has been touched by the number of people inquiring about Jasmine since her death and the number of people who seemed to miss one creature on a campus of 40,000. Michael is continuing to work toward obtaining his masters degree.

This is his story – and hers.

Jasmine loved to play ball – even to the end. A racquetball was her favorite, but she loved to play with any type.

Visitors to our room were obligated to play a bit with her. On the Quad, she loved joining in with any group that were playing with a ball.

I am saddened to report that our canine friend and my service dog, Jasmine, died a month ago. She was almost 14 years old, though her age never showed as she continued to run, jump, play and work.

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She had a short illness of about two weeks as she suffered multiple organ failure – but she was a trooper.

She kept working for me through her last week, and never wanted to retire. And she was still out on the Quad playing with a group of students on her last good day, just four days before she died.

Before Jasmine became my partner 13 years ago, she was with another family who did not train her and kept her isolated and locked up in a room. When that family split up for personal reasons, they gave Jasmine to me.

She helped me due to some cervical and spinal problems as I entered graduate school at the University.

Two years after arriving, I had a major health incident, in which my pectoral tendons ripped off of my shoulder due to a chronic condition that has caused my tendons to deteriorate.

I had to re-evaluate my life and my future work as I had surgeries to re-anchor the muscles. Jasmine had to adapt too and learned many new skills to help me during the last three years.

Beyond her work, Jasmine loved a great party. Just the mention of the word was enough to make her ears perk up, and get her jumping around at the door while I put her backpack on.

She loved Murphy’s Pub’s french fries – plus food from anywhere else. We could always depend on students to have food at 2 a.m., so hanging out on Green street was a favorite pastime.

As I always said, she was doing her civic duty by keeping the neighborhood clean of food debris.

Many of our friends have wanted to say farewell to her. Many of you have sent condolence letters, and many of you have cried with me during the last month. I can’t possibly thank all the people who were kind and respectful during Jasmine’s time here, but Jasmine really did love a party, and wouldn’t want everyone to remain sad. We can grieve that she is no longer in our lives, but as she lived the fullest until the end, so must we.

Editor’s note: “From my perspective” is an occasional series highlighting the stories of members of the campus and its surrounding communities. If you are interested in suggesting a story or being featured, e-mail your proposal to [email protected].