This afternoon my husband took our 12 year old German Shepherd in for her last vet visit. In two days she had gone from being deaf but reasonably alert to not being able to get up, stand, eat or even recognize us by scent. My husband and oldest son, Sasha's "Boy" were with her to the very end. We go to pick an urn for her tomorrow. Sounds weird to have a pet cremated, but she was special to the entire family and belonged to all of us.
I will be honest in this as I try to be in all things. I did not particularly like Sasha. She was untrainable due to her timid nature. She feared collars, leashes, brushes, nail clippers, air molecules... You get the picture. We had to take her to the vet to have her sedated so he could clip her nails. She feared dogs smaller than she was until we got Stormy 5 years ago and that little ball of fluff brought her out of her shell.
But Sasha began to truly come in to her own when we got King, a white German Shepherd about 9 years ago. He invaded her territory and she was having none of it. I remember on night, shortly after we got King and they got in to it in the hallway, drew blood and would not let it go. My husband picked up both dogs, each weighing more than 100 pounds and threw them out back. At that point they both looked at other and decided it was much easier to get along than to have that man pissed off at them. Sasha was with King when he laid down for his final nap 3 years ago. We buried him in our butterfly garden before we renovated it. My cat Rex is right beside him.
I often joked in the past couple of years that I didn't like Sasha until she lost her hearing and became crotchety. That attitude I could understand. I finally respected the dog once she wasn't living in eternal fear of living. Her hip dysplasia made is very difficult for her to get around in the past year, and it didn't help that she refused to have her nails clipped, fur trimmed and we tore out our carpeting in most of the house to stain the cement floor. In months past she would often fall down and not be able to get back up. We knew it was going to be a short time before we were confronted with the moment with the moment we gave up on the joint and pain meds and finally did the "humane" thing. It's never easy, because a part of you, even know what they are enduring, longs to hold on to that love and companionship.
This weekend we could no longer debate it. My husband who lived in denial for the past few years because he loved her so much, was the first to say it. I just nodded. I've been choked up with tears for two days, I cry at the thought of any pet. My logical mind says it's ridiculous to get all upset over a pet. WTF??? It's very logical. We love our companions. We spend more time with them than we do most other human beings. They give us comfort, joy and hours of just being there. How could you not miss that once it's gone? And no, another dog will never replace the hole her death has left in all of our lives.
We got Sasha shortly after my dad died. I finally felt, two years after Ragnar, the BEST DOG IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE died, that I was ready for a dog. I did not pick out Sasha, the spousal unit did. In all the years we had Sasha I could never decide if I was more angry at him for her demeanor or her for stubbornly persisting to be so timid.
I will miss her escaping from the yard just to show us she could. Her nickname was Houdini. I will miss her nudging the other dogs back from the food bowl, and the way she slurped water like a thirst crazed camel. I won't miss the dog hair, or the fact that she refused to go outside until we were in the middle of something or entirely relaxed, then she'd go to the door and scratch to get out. I will miss the way she'd prance around in cold weather. I called it "Getting Fluffy".
Our pets are our friends. Not in the sense that human being are our friends. They can't talk to us, we can't reason with them. However, when we take the responsibility for a dog or a cat, or even a hamster, we are entirely their world. They count on us for everything and they give us the sweetest love in return. So, yes, I will miss our Sasha, just as I miss Rex, King and Ragnar. I hope they are all in Pet Heaven chasing bunnies, and having a fine time.
We don't know where their energy goes, but I hope it's someplace nice and warm.