Today, Friday, we said goodbye to our beloved dog, Sasha.
(I’m writing this beforehand but will publish after. I don’t think I’d be able to write this…after. I think then I’ll be stepping away from the internet for a few days.)
This week has been brutally hard. Saying goodbye to pets is always agonizing, but watching your child have to say goodbye to their favorite dog… it’s next level hard. I wish we had more years with her. But life doesn’t work this way, so we making the excruciating choice to say goodbye now, before she hurts any more than she already does.
A note to my husband: I am so grateful for you. Always, but especially this week. Thank you for being strong but also for showing our son that displaying hard emotions can be a kind of strength as well. And thank you for always loving our girl so well. She adored you.
1. We adopted Sasha on July 5, 2012. We’d been a one dog family for almost a year and a half, but after we bought our home, we were ready to welcome another one into our house. We visited quite a few dogs at a number of shelters, but our older dog Ellie didn’t love them. We finally ended up at the Seattle Animal Shelter and met Sasha. She was shy, but friendly with us, and she and Ellie seemed comfortable with each other quickly.
Once she came home and had settled in, we had friends over to meet her, and only then did we realize how nervous and anxious a dog she was. She’d been found running, unspayed, on the streets before she ended up at the shelter, and whatever happened before we got her home likely wasn’t good. It took years and years before she was comfortable with many people other than us, but she was never nervous with us. We were her people from day one.
Adopting from a shelter meant that she was “cheaper” financially than getting a dog from a breeder, but the time and love needed to be put in was much higher. As my husband likes to joke, we tend to gravitate toward the “dented can dogs” – the ones even the shelter sometimes discounts because they are perhaps less adoptable than others (our other dog Ellie is a great example of this – with distemper and mange before she came home with us).
2. Over the years, we took her on a number of camping trips with us, and she always loved to explore off leash. She took joy in hanging out with her people, no matter where we were at.
One camping trip we took in January 2014 was so cold, and only our tent with the dogs inside for warmth left a melted square on the frosty ground when we packed up the next day. Our other friends along with us on the trip left body outlines in the grass. With our pups though, we were nice and toasty warm. And Sasha’s thick coat meant that she wasn’t even the slightest bit cold.
Before our close neighbor friends moved away, we took at trip in the summer of 2018 along the banks of a river north of us. It was one of our best camping memories already, and now I’ll look back on that trip with more fondness, knowing we had our pups (and theirs) along for the ride.
Most recently, we took the dogs with us back up to our favorite camping spot above Leavenworth this summer. Sasha was already mostly deaf at that point and had taken to wandering a little, so she had to be leashed more often on that trip. I’m so grateful we decided to take them though, not knowing that it would be her last camping trip.
3. When we traveled and couldn’t take the dogs, our roommate has been a wonderful caretaker for our dogs. He’s lived with us for more than a decade now, and Sasha was as comfortable with him as she is with us. For a nervous dog – especially when she was younger – having an in home regular person to leave her with was priceless.
Priceless, but also cheaper than a sitter. We don’t charge him a lot of rent, and in turn, he takes care of the animals when we’re gone as a normal “household” duty. Really, we likely wouldn’t have been comfortable traveling far away as often as we have without having a trusted person to care for our loves. Ellie probably would have been fine with whomever, but Sasha always did better with people she knew.
4. Because of her anxiety, we were very careful when I got pregnant and had our son, because we weren’t sure how she would take a new human. Instead though, as soon as I went into early labor, her whole demeanor changed. For the first time, she stood between me and my mom, touching her instead of running away like normal, because she was protecting me – really, protecting the kiddo she hadn’t met yet.
From the point he was old enough to cuddle with her, Sasha became his pillow and “his” dog. I worried when he was younger that one of them would pass before he would remember his doggos, so I’m trying to remind myself that at least he is now old enough at seven and a half to always remember, in his words, his “Soul Doggy.”
It has been heartwrenching to go through this process with him, because he is so wrecked to lose his favorite dog. We are always truthful with him though, even when it hurts, and his teachers have said that he’s very clearly articulated to them and his friends at school that we made the hard decision for Sasha so that she would no longer be in pain. That he would miss her so, so much, that he “doesn’t know what his life looks like without her,” but that it was the right decision.
I wish I could protect him from this kind of hurt forever, but it’s what we sign up for when we love dogs so deeply. If only they live as long as parrots.
5. A final note, since this is the “Frugal Five” after all. I am so entirely grateful that our financial situation is such that I didn’t have to hesitate to take her into the vet, didn’t have to hesitate to authorize the x-ray that confirmed our worst fears. And that we could pay for an at home visit in the end. With as much pain as this week has been, at least we don’t have the pain of worrying about the money part along with it.
So this is to you, Sasha puppy dog. Our good girl. We miss you so, so much already. There will be forever a hole in our hearts where you snuggled in all those years ago. If only we could have had more time. We’ll love you forever.