This is perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever written. I’m not even sure why I’m doing it. Perhaps because in part it is therapeutic and in part I want to memorialize the best friend I ever had in this world.
Sassy came to us as a stray back in 1998. Right from the start I knew she was a loving soul. She happily approached showing no fear or hesitation whatsoever. And so began our journey through life together.
Over the next 14 years we were inseparable. We were always together. Even at night she slept in my room, on her little doggie bed on the floor beside mine.
We went for many walks, many truck rides and spent countless hours playing about in the backyard.
Sassy was unique in that she never barked, never even growled – ever. She didn’t have a mean or vicious bone in her body. If a stray cat wandered into the yard she wanted to be befriend it. She was a loving and gentle soul who was accepting of everyone and everything.
To illustrate the bond we shared I’d like to cite a couple of examples. About 6 years ago Sassy took ill. She started to go downhill fast. She wouldn’t eat and could barely lift herself onto her feet. I remember making beef broth on the stove, letting it cool and slightly lifting her head so that she could lick the spoon. Thankfully, after emergency surgery and a week of downtime she completely recovered.
In another example, I have an abdominal hernia, which by the way I really should permanently fix. Anyway, about 3 years ago I had an attack. The pain was unlike anything I had ever felt – it was excruciating. I couldn’t walk, sit, lay down. I recall sitting on the edge of the bed with Sassy staring at me. She knew something was wrong. She came to me, sat at my side and licked my hand. That was her way of saying I’m here for you Papa. Such is the bond we shared.
As time wore on her age started to show. I estimate she was probably 1-2 years old when she entered my life and stayed for another 14. Over the last couple of months she could no longer climb the stairs. We live in a 2.5 story house and the bedroom is on the 2nd floor. I happily carried her up and down the stairs constantly.
Despite no longer being able to climb the stairs or to run or to jump she always tried. At her age she still tried to play, still tried to jump and run. She was so full of life. It was amazing.
I knew she was getting up there in years but assumed (and hoped) the end would come peacefully, perhaps in her sleep. Then, out of the blue, unthinkable tragedy struck.
It was the early morning hours of May 10 (just a few days ago as of the time of this writing) and I couldn’t sleep because of insomnia. I was online in the computer room with Sassy laying ever so faithfully on the floor beside me. It was about 2am.
Suddenly and without warning she started to shake violently. Her back legs were flailing about wildly. I had no idea what was happening. I panicked. I jumped down on the floor covering her with my body trying to stop the shaking. After a few minutes the violent seizure ended but she continued to shake and twitch. I carried her over to her bed and laid her down. I then rushed to get the phone book looking for a 24hr vet. I found one and we were on our way.
Upon arriving at the animal hospital I explained to the vet what happened. He informed me that it is rare for dogs her age to suffer from epileptic seizures. He was 99% sure it was a brain tumour. I was devastated for I knew what that meant. I asked anyway. He said that considering her age and that he has no idea how much damage has been caused there is only one humane course of action. I signed the papers.
I asked how long the procedure would take. He said seconds. He was right. With her laying on the table, he tied a rubber tube around her hind leg. As for me, I knelt on the floor putting myself directly in front of her face. I stroked her face, talking to her and crying like a baby. In less than 3 seconds she was gone.
It’s been a few days now since that morning and I still haven’t come to terms with it. I keep hoping this is all a bad dream and that I’ll wake up. She was more than a dog, so much more. She was the gentlest and most loving soul I have ever encountered. And she was the best friend I ever had.
She also didn’t deserve to die that way. Life can be incredibly unfair.
I have no idea why we are on this Earth. If it is to learn and teach others then she passed with flying colours.
What I wouldn’t give to see her just one more time, to hug her, to hear her walk across the floor. The house is so empty.
Of course like others I have experienced the crushing effect of death be it friends or family members. But none have hit me like this. Although I am a grown man I am not ashamed to admit that I’m crying right now, as I write this.
To Sassy let me say this, Papa loves you more than anything in this world. If I had the power to make things turn out differently I would have. I will always love you. Until we meet again dear sweet friend.
In closing, here is a poem by Sally Evans. Perhaps others who are going through similar circumstances can find some comfort in the words.
If I had known that on that day our time was near the end
I would have done things differently, my forever friend.
I would have stayed right next to you deep into the night
but I thought I’d see you in the early morning light.
And so I said “Good night” to you as I walked in through the door
never thinking of the time when I’d see you no more.
But if I had known that on that day our time was at the end
I would have done things so differently, my forever friend.
PS: I thought I would add the story of The Rainbow Bridge to this page. It’s a wonderful story, the author of which is unknown.
The Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called the Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to the Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.
The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head. You look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together …