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Dana Perino’s dog died over the weekend. Why are so many people mourning his loss?

To Fox News viewers, Jasper, a Hungarian vizsla, was known as ‘America’s dog’

Dana Perino and her dog Jasper sit in Central Park in New York on Sunday, March 21, 2021.
Dana Perino and her dog, Jasper, sit in Central Park in New York on Sunday, March 21, 2021. Perino, and the news personality’s fans, are mourning Jasper’s death.
Gabriela Bhaskar, for the Deseret News

His name was Jasper, and to Fox News viewers, he wasn’t just Dana Perino’s Hungarian vizsla, but “America’s dog.”

In fact, Perino, the former press secretary to President George W. Bush and now a Fox News personality, has said that when walking with Jasper in Central Park, more people recognized the dog than her. He was a frequent visitor on the Fox shows “The Five” and “America’s Newsroom” and the subject of Perino’s book “Let Me Tell You About Jasper.”

But Jasper died over the Labor Day weekend, and people are now tweeting condolences to Perino and to her husband, Peter McMahon. Perino wrote about Jasper’s passing in an essay posted on Fox News, writing, “There wasn’t a day he didn’t make us laugh out loud, melt my heart, or smooth my rough edges.”

Perino said the cause of death was a fast-spreading cancer and wrote on Instagram that she was holding him when she said goodbye, “talking about all the fishing he can do in Heaven.” Jasper died at 12:40 p.m. Sept. 4 at age 9.

The life expectancy of the Hungarian vizsla is typically 12 to 14 years, according to the American Kennel Club.

This isn’t the first dog that Perino and her husband have mourned with the help of the nation. Jasper’s predecessor, Henry, died in 2012, and Perino wrote in her 2016 book “Let Me Tell You About Jasper” that she was overwhelmed with grief for days after his passing. At the time, the couple thought they would be unable to get another dog anytime soon. But after two nights in a Henry-less apartment, they changed their mind, and Jasper came to live with them 2 months later.

It didn’t take long for Jasper to become a regular feature on Perino’s social media accounts, where he regularly romped on the beach and rode shotgun in the sidecar of the couple’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Jasper was also featured in a number of images created for fun. Like a canine Forrest Gump, he showed up in unexpected places, to include presidential debates, world sports championship events, a Wheaties cereal box and in posters for famous movies (including “Jawsper” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Dogs”).

In the most recent image, created by Five Fan Photoshops, Jasper appears to have won a gold medal for swimming in the Tokyo Olympics. He also was pictured in the famous Bernie Sanders pose from Joe Biden’s inauguration, wearing Sanders’ popular wool mittens.

Dana Perino, her husband, Peter McMahon, and their dog Jasper go for a walk in Central Park in New York on Sunday, March 21, 2021. Perino just released her book, “Everything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons for Young Women” earlier in March.
Dana Perino, her husband, Peter McMahon, and their dog Jasper go for a walk in Central Park in New York on Sunday, March 21, 2021. Perino released her book, “Everything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons for Young Women” earlier in March.
Gabriela Bhaskar, for the Deseret News

But for all his fame, Jasper was an ordinary dog in what he provided to Perino and her husband: companionship and love.

In her Fox News essay, Perino wrote about the difficulty of moving around the apartment still full of of Jasper’s toys and other remembrances, and about the friend who told her that “grief is the price we pay for love.”

“That made me cry,” she said, but then added, “Loving Jasper was worth every penny and then some.”

Perino hasn’t said anything about getting another dog, but if history predicts the future, another Hungarian vizsla puppy may appear on her social media accounts before the new year.

Until then, on Instagram, Perino answered people who are asking what they can do to help the couple get through their grief.

“What can you do for us? Love each other. Hold on tight to your loved ones — including all of your pets. And love boldly and fully.”