Sassie knew that she was going home with Ruth today.
When Ruth appeared with the leash, Sassie could hardly stand still. Ruth was also excited and kept talking to Sassie about the farm. I wonder what a farm is like, Sassie thought.
Ruth had purchased a harness seat belt for Sassie and when they went out to the car, Sassie noticed that it was connected to the front passenger seat belt. After Ruth put Sassie into the harness safety restraint, she got behind the wheel and put the passenger window down so Sassie could enjoy the wind in her hair.
Ruth started the car and Sassie heard her say, “I can’t wait for Mom and Pop to meet you. I want you to know that love will always be spoken in your new home. Now let’s travel, and I want you to enjoy your ride.”
Sassie did enjoy the wind in her hair and all the many scents she encountered along the short trip. Ruth’s Mom and Pop were waiting at the door. As soon as Ruth arrived, they came out to greet Sassie. Pop had put some treats in his pocket for Sassie. When he saw Sassie, he had a treat ready to give her.
Sassie looked into Pop’s eyes and saw the love and his need for a dog like her. Then Pop took Sassie’s toy from Ruth and started to shake it at Sassie. Sassie gave him a Play Bow and danced around trying to capture the toy. The love that flowed between
Pop and Sassie was beautiful to watch.
From that moment on, they were always together. They went fishing, played fetch, walked everywhere together, and when Pop sat down, Sassie would lie at his feet. Sassie learned some tricks that Pop loved to show off. There was “Roll Over,” and “High Five” and “Spin” and “Crawl,” and when Pop put his hand to his ear, Sassie would “Speak.”
As time went on, Ruth noticed that Pop was losing weight. She finally questioned him about it. Pop admitted that when he got the test results they were not good. He had advanced prostate cancer. He had not wanted to share the news with Ruth.
“Did Mom know?” Ruth asked. Pop admitted that she did.
Sassie became the comforter of the family. Pop never wanted to show his emotions, but if he wanted to cry, he would bury his head into Sassie’s fur and sob quietly.
Pop began to make routine trips to the hospital for treatment. Sassie would wait for Pop’s return on the welcome mat just inside the front door. Whenever Pop came home from the hospital trip, Sassie would do her happy dance and give Pop a bath of sloppy kisses. Pop continued to play fetch with Sassie, but he no longer took any walks to their favorite spots.
The day Pop went to the hospital for the last time, Sassie lay at the front door all day. She continued to lie there whining and waiting for Pop’s return. Sassie stopped eating and wouldn’t leave the front door area.
Mom was upset to see Sassie’s constant vigil. After one week, Mom decided to help Sassie understand what had happened. Sassie did not wish to leave her spot by the door but was willing to get into the car with Mom. She paced from car window to car window, looking for Pop.
Mom drove to the cemetery and she and Sassie walked together toward Pop’s gravesite. As Mom got closer, Sassie pulled away from Mom and ran directly to Pop’s gravesite. She lay down on the grave, closed her eyes and just stayed there, quietly. Mom did not disturb her nor talk to her. After one hour, Sassie walked back to Mom and used her mouth to hand Mom her leash. She was ready to go home. After Mom and Sassie arrived home, Sassie kept kissing Mom’s hand as if to say, “Thank you,” and Sassie never again lay by the front door. She now understood.
With her permission, I am serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, near-final material from this instructive novel by dog trainer Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through amazon.com: UNDERSTANDING SASSIE
I coached and edited for Helen through my Write Your Book with Me endeavor.
Connect with all her books on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=helen+a.+bemis&ref=nb_sb_noss
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