I’ve mentioned a lot had been going on in my life lately, mainly focusing on work. However, some more personal, weighty things did take place. A couple weeks ago, my family unexpectedly lost our dog Sasha.
We adopted Sasha eight months after losing our first family dog, Charlie, who, despite being a husky-German shepherd-black lab mix (so basically, a big dog), lived to be 15 years old. He was an amazing dog – loyal, loving, adoring, fun, wise – and our family wasn’t sure we would get another dog for a long time after we lost him.
However, my dad saw a picture of Sasha in the local newspaper. Then named “Snowy,” she had been at the local animal shelter (the one I volunteered at in the spring and summer) for a few months, and the paper was featuring her in hopes it would lead to her adoption. She had been a stray and was estimated to be one to two years old.
My dad read about her, thought about her, went to visit her, and fell in love with her. My parents adopted her within days, right around Thanksgiving of my freshmen year of college.
Sasha loved to play, walk, and run, and was super vocal. She loved to cuddle and demanded the attention of every creature she came into contact with – human, cat, dog, whatever. She was extremely smart, but instead of using that intelligence to be as human-like as possible, sort of like Charlie did, she used her smarts for the most clever, dog-like means. We originally thought she was a border collie-retriever mix, but as the years went by, we weren’t sure if that was right and could never quite pinpoint what breeds she was. We think she was probably a retriever of some kind and possibly American Eskimo as well.
She was beautiful, sweet, loving, loyal, sassy, and full of energy. Everyone always asked if she was a puppy still – but she wasn’t, she was six or seven. So even though she was older, we were worried when her energy started to decline and she seemed sort of depressed. We noticed swelling under her chin (where she loved to be scratched) and went to the vet. He discovered a puncture in her mouth (we thought it was from playing with Dan and I’s dog, Madison) and gave her antibiotics.
Sasha just got worse. We took her back to the vet, who sent us to a dental vet specialist. The specialist discovered that it was not a outside action that caused the puncture, but rather inoperable tumors rapidly spreading. Sasha had cancer, and though it was so sudden and we weren’t ready, not even in the least bit, we had to let her go.
We all miss her still, every day. Here is what I wrote on my personal Facebook the day we had to say goodbye: “Losing a pet is hard, because what we see consistently in pets is what we wish we steadily had in ourselves – loyalty, compassion, and joy. The ability to let go of small betrayals or mistakes easily, the instinct to always help those in need and protect others, and the happiness in all blessings, no matter how small or big….a cuddle, a bright summer’s day, a person’s kindness. Pets are the ultimate optimists, the most enthusiastic beings, and the best of friends.”
It’s easier when we are away from home, in places Sasha normally wasn’t. And that is another reason, I finally realized, why losing pets is so hard and it hurts to see pets scared, in pain, etc. I finally realized why I never doubted or questioned pets being part of the family, and just inherently felt it and accepted it as truth as a child in a house with animals – Pets make a house a home. It feels emptier with them gone. Life is missing a substantial measure of love, acceptance, and warmth. And if those things aren’t what makes a person feel at home, I’m not sure what does.
Miss you, Sasha. So grateful and glady you were part of our family and home. Love you always.