Jasper, America’s dog, died at 12:40 p.m. on Saturday, September 4, 2021. He was nine years old. Though I’ve cried and felt the rolling waves of the first stage of grief for the first two days without him, I don’t think it really hit me until 3:08 a.m. on September 6th.
I woke up because it was too quiet. Even when Jasper was sound asleep, he had a presence. I tried going back to sleep – I prayed, breathed, and begged for a bit more rest. It wasn’t happening. Finally, trying not to wake Peter, I decided to just get up and write it all down.
When I came downstairs, I could feel Jasper everywhere. This was his house. We were just living in it.
I grabbed my laptop and swallowed a couple of bites of Greek yogurt to coat my stomach before having a cup of English Breakfast Tea. I went to set the bowl down for Jasper to find when he woke up. I liked to leave him a little surprise. I caught myself before the bowl hit the floor and placed it in the kitchen sink instead.
I couldn’t decide where to sit to write, because each spot was also his. Jasper sat wherever we sat. It didn’t matter how small the chair, he would find a way to squeeze in there. Then he’d just sit and look around, as if he were a person helping you read the newspaper or have a chat with visitors on a Sunday afternoon. He would fight sleep. If he started to nod off, he’d wake with a start and then pretend he wasn’t falling asleep. He had a terrible fear of missing out.
And now I miss everything.
I avoided the family room where Jasper’s toy box is overflowing. He loved his toys and always needed to greet you with one or more. “Get another one, Jasper,” and he’d stuff one more in his mouth. I think the record was five toys that he somehow figured out how to get in his overstretched jaws. A fish fin, an elephant’s trunk, a teddy bear’s leg hanging out of the sides. I will miss those greetings. Especially the ones when I’d only been away for 30 seconds putting the trash down the chute.
I kept thinking ahead to the days to come that won’t include his greetings or his walks with Peter to pick me up after work at Fox News. He won’t jump up on the bed after his last outing to get some lotion on the tops of his paws (a tradition we started to get him to stop trying to lick it off my legs.)
Jasper will never be on “The Five” or “America’s Newsroom” again – he was such a great sport when we’d have him on set. He always wore a tie for television. He had a good sense of the cameras, having been over-photographed his entire life. Jasper would look right into the lens, as if he could start reading, “One More Thing is up next.” Oh, if I could just have one more thing with him.
In the days since Jasper passed away, we’ve been buoyed by the outpouring of support from our friends, colleagues, and especially our fans. Jasper was first on “The Five” in June 2012, a tiny puppy that I could easily hold in my arms. I think he slept through that first appearance, but a star was born.
I couldn’t help bringing up Jasper and his antics on air. Greg Gutfeld loved to tease me about it, which made me do it more. He even came up with a fake dog of his named Casper. No one knows what happened to Casper. Somebody check Greg’s basement, please.
I would post photos of Jasper and all his antics and adventures. People got a kick out of his “lil’ ear” – half of his left ear was missing – perhaps bitten off by a sibling when they were fighting for room in the womb. It gave him real character.
A viewer of “The Five,” FiveFanPhotoshops (now a good friend and my illustrator for Let Me Tell You About Jasper), created incredible pictures of Jasper in all sorts of places – the U.S. Open, the World Cup, presidential debates, and even space.
They were remarkable, made people laugh, and even fooled people “Is that real?”
His following grew. Soon, people were asking about Jasper more often than about politics. And that suited me just fine.
TSA agents would ask if I’d packed Jasper in the suitcase. Police officers would ask me, “How’s Jasper today?” Fans visiting New York City would be on the lookout for him as well. Once, a jogger in Central Park stopped us.
“Oh wow, is that Jasper?” Yes. Would he like a photo? Absolutely.
So, I asked Peter to take the picture with the man’s camera, and went to get in the shot.
“Oh….um, just Jasper.”
Oh. Yes, of course. My star was happily eclipsed.
This weekend we heard from a woman who was visiting Manhattan last winter with her sister. She made her get up early and dragged her to a certain spot in the park at 7:15 a.m. where she hoped to catch a glimpse of Jasper. To their delight, there he was with Peter, looking for fish in the pond. She got pictures with the dog she knew through social media and Fox News. She contacted us this weekend to send her condolences and said that meeting Jasper was the highlight of her trip.
I’ve heard from friends and strangers who said they’d never been dog people until Jasper. Some became dog owners because they wanted to experience that special bond as well. Others had just followed him because he was nicknamed America’s Dog on “Red Eye” (that was the show before Gutfeld Exclamation Point)– not because we thought he was better than any other dog, but because I said I’d be happy to share Jasper with everyone. I’d do all the work, and they could claim him as one of their own.
When the pandemic shutdowns started in March 2020, I added a Facebook Live reading for kids every afternoon for 15 minutes. I didn’t plan on having Jasper be a part of them, but he insisted on sitting next to me. He’d look at the camera or at the book’s illustrations, and the kids (and the parents and grandparents watching alone) loved it. I got a note from one of those parents this weekend – their kids still remembered Jasper’s readings and considered him their dog, too.
At Fox News, everyone knew of Jasper – and even though he didn’t come to work with me, his presence was felt there as well. The producers of “The Five” knew him his entire life and have indulged me with his appearances. Jasper gave us a lot of material to work with.
Staff throughout the building would ask about him, and they’d post his funny photos and videos to the website. One of the best was when Peter and Jasper rode a Harley and sidecar in a Fourth of July parade in Batman and Robin costumes, Jasper wearing his Doggles (no eye protection, no ride – Jasper knew the rules and never tried to take them off). We won “Best Dog” that year at the parade. America strong indeed. I was so proud.
I remember when Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney, and I had a “best dog” contest – it went to a vote by the viewers. Sean won, hands down. It was only fair – it was his show and his dog was very cute. But we were all winners. We had dogs.
Lawrence Jones came to visit one weekend. Jasper had never met him, but somehow knew Lawrence was the one to run to when he got off the train. Jasper never left his side the entire weekend.
Jasper was the first dog Lawrence ever really liked. That was his little buddy, and Lawrence was one of the first people I thought of as Jasper was dying. I knew he would be upset. His tribute to Jasper on “Fox & Friends” was so touching.
We have several good friends who we met through Jasper. He’d play with a dog at the park in Manhattan, greet another dog at a crab cake social in South Carolina, or chase a toy into the surf at the Jersey Shore with a new pal, and then Peter and I would have more friends with the dogs’ owners. Sometimes we only knew the dogs’ names – “You know, Scout’s mom…” and other times we would find ourselves invited to dinner at their homes for holiday meals. We were richer in friends because of Jasper.
Over the nine years of his life, Jasper’s love spread far and wide. And like a pebble tossed into Twilight Lake in New Jersey, his favorite fishing spot, it keeps rippling.
A good friend said this weekend that Jasper is probably still signing autographs in Heaven. That made me smile.
Another reminded us this weekend that grief is the price we pay for love. That made me cry.
Loving Jasper was worth every penny and then some. Dagen McDowell of Fox Business would call that an excellent return on investment.
There wasn’t a day he didn’t make us laugh out loud, melt my heart, or smooth my rough edges.
As I finish this, the sun isn’t even up yet. I almost prefer sitting in the dark for a bit longer. Alone here in the quiet and in his presence. I miss him so much. I’m not sure how I’ll be without him. But I know I’m better for having known him and to have held him as we said goodbye.
Thank you all for loving Jasper and sharing him with us.
Goodbye, Jasper. Rest in Peace and in the quiet.
Dana Perino currently serves as a co-anchor of “America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer & Dana Perino”(weekdays 9-11 a.m. ET) and also serves as co-host of “The Five” (weekdays 5-6 p.m. ET) and “Dana Perino’s Book Club” on Fox Nation. She joined the network in 2009 as a contributor. Click here for more information on Dana Perino. Follow her on Twitter@DanaPerino.