Tuesday, May 28, 2019

UNDERSTANDING SASSIE, A Novel of Dog and Human Communication, Ch. 1

Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication

Praise for Understanding Sassie by Helen A. Bemis 
What a delightful book! The story line was clever, the characters interesting, and it held my interest. The big surprise came when I discovered I had received a subtle education about the language of dogs. Definitely a ‘feel good’ book which I’ve read a few times, to make sure I learned all my lessons! Looking forward to a sequel.  Peg Gifford, former sales executive and current business owner
Understanding Sassie is a wonderful story for young and old. The tale is spun from a dog’s perspective and how they perceive humans, interpret their actions and how they respond to human love and kindness. The story unfolds when a dog, about to have puppies, escapes from the pound. The adventure begins once the pups are born and their exposure to the world in the “wild” and their survival. Following the adventures of each dog is heartwarming and enlightening. I highly recommend this wonderful story for all ages. Sandy Manclirespecial education, animal rescue, pet care business owner
My wife and I enjoyed this new book by Helen Bemis. We have loved our 13-year-old Bichon since she was a puppy. We have observed many behaviors and voices. Thanks to this creative, endearing, and very readable book by Helen, we now understand better her personality and enjoy her more. Our thanks to Helen for writing a helpful and interesting volume on dogs. Rev. Jeffrey Stratton, Trinity United Methodist Church of Wilton, NY


To all the people who train with “tools of love.”


A special thanks to my husband and best friend, Bruce: his encouragement during this process was invaluable.
To my daughter, April: a big thank-you, for her wisdom and talents. She helped me make this book come alive.
To my editor/coach, Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD (douglas@tingandi.com): a big thank-you for all your time and expertise. You were instrumental in helping me create a good story that teaches dog communication.
To my long-time friend, Gary: thank you for all your helpful ideas.
To Michelle Roskiewicz (loveddogsart@gmail. com): your talent in dog art is awesome and much appreciated.
To those that proofread my early attempts at this story–Peg, Sandy, Jennifer, Judy, Donna, and so many others (you know who you are): I appreciate all the wisdom and input you shared with me.
In conclusion, I’d also like to thank you, the reader, for accepting Sassie as your teacher of the language of dogs.


In my many years of teaching dog obedience, I have discovered that not all humans understand what the dog is trying to tell them. Although I’ve enjoyed my opportunities to teach classes on dog communication (the body language of dogs), my goal has always been to reach a wider audience. In writing this book, my hope is that it will also teach safety around dogs.
I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. I have discovered that stories can help us to remember and learn valuable information.
Learning what the dog is trying to tell you, I believe, is the path to safety. I have used an expert of the dog language, the Golden-Retriever-mix puppy named Sassie, to teach us what the dog’s body language is telling us.
I believe if you can understand what someone is saying, any fear or confusion can be illuminated. We can listen to them and feel comfortable in recognizing what they are saying to us.
I also believe that if fear and confusion are eliminated, we are more inclined to listen and respect someone’s (or some dog’s) communication.


My name is Ruth. In my youth I lived on a 200-acre dairy farm. I love the memories of this time in my life. The smell of the freshly cut hay in the fields and the scent of apples as they turned into Mom’s pies or her secret recipe for applesauce were a few of my favorite memories. Whenever I saw a Collie I would think of my summertime best friend.

A typical summer day might begin with a review of my Collie’s training. “Sit!” I would watch my Collie react to my firm but pleasant request and when I added the word “stay,” I would walk away. As I walked to the near-by fence, I noticed the multicolored flowers Mom had planted around our home. She loved planting many floral varieties, but her favorite was that lilac bush at the farmhouse entryway. The scent of lilacs would always remind me of Mom. I stopped at the fence and debated about hiding behind that lilac bush. I thought that the fragrant lilac perfume might hide my scent. Yet, as I looked back at my Collie, he was watching me and studying my every move. I decided it would be more fun to watch him run, so instead of hiding, I called, “Come!”

As soon as he heard that magical word, he leaped at the invitation to join me. My Collie’s muscles made his multi-colors of brown, red, and white wave in a majesty that somehow reminded me of a flag. Maybe this was because he looked to be flying in his eagerness to come to me. I delighted in his joy of our companionship.

However, my joy ended when my Collie developed a deadly skin disease. The veterinarian recommended that he be put out of his misery. I was devastated. I would not accept this loss of my best friend. It hurt too much. I slammed shut the door to my feelings and announced, “I will never love anyone or anything again!”

Little did I know how my life would change when I met the golden-haired dog named Sassie. 


My name is Sassie. I’ve been told that I am a blond-haired beauty. Some men have said that they like to run their fingers through my long silky hair. Do you enjoy the outdoors? I’m a lover of the outdoors and my favorite outdoor activity is the sport of hunting. The reward of eating what I have caught

is always an undescribed pleasure. I enjoy eating. I do not share my food. I will gobble my meal, am a sloppy eater, and proud to say that I have no table manners. Maybe that is why no one wants to come near me during my mealtime.  Do you wish for some things? My greatest wish is that more people would understand me when I try to communicate with them. My wish came true when I met Ruth.




"No! My dog, Sassie, has done nothing!  You don’t understand! Please let her go. She's done nothing wrong!” Ruth was begging the policeman to listen to her. The policeman continued to ignore Ruth, and he tugged on Sassie’s leash.

As Ruth looked at Sassie, she saw the confusion in Sassie’s eyes mirror her own frustration.
Could this policeman be dragging her dog to a possible death sentence? Why could he not understand that Sassie was considered a service animal. She was doing her job as a diabetic alert dog. Sassie would alert Mom when her blood sugar was too high. Someone misunderstood Sassie’s alert and called the police.

I wished there was some way to quickly explain my life-long knowledge of dogs, their emotions, and the valuable work that they can do. All my attempts to talk to this policeman seemed to fall on deaf ears.

In my frustration, I collapsed on a nearby bench. A shower of tears flooded my shaking hands. I knew I was not thinking clearly. If there was any way to help Sassie, I would need to calm down.
It was time to use my personal meditation! I discovered this technique when I was a very small child and had those childhood fears. I always had warm and happy farm memories, so I decided to meditate on those happy farm thoughts. This relaxation process always created mental smiles. My icy fears would melt away. This meditation created a soothing calm. My insurmountable fears would shrink to microscopic irritations.

So, I began my personal meditation and thought about my parents’ dairy farm. I loved to walk those 200 acres and listen to the songs of the farm. There was the sharp call of the blue jays and the chic-adee-dee chorus of musical joy.

On a blistering hot day, the locusts would buzz in complaint. The feel of a cool breeze that would tickle the trees was always a welcome relief on those scorching days. I loved the taste of the air after a rainfall. There was a trout stream on the other side of the hill near our home. It sang a special melody as the water kissed the rocks and caressed the fallen tree branches. Fish often made a quick splashing sound, and the frogs seemed to harmonize as if in response to nature’s music.

The forest that bordered the hay fields with Christmas-like pines reminded me of the fun we had
finding that special Christmas tree within the snow-covered greenery. The strong wind could sting the skin or ruin a fresh hairstyle. Each day brought joy and laughter. If I could walk ever so quietly, not an easy task, I could see the various creatures as they lived and worked in the farm environment. 

There were the rabbits and deer that would either bolt away or freeze to blend into their surroundings. The black and white dairy cows speckled the fields. At milking time these cows would give their deep voice call as they announced their pilgrimage to the barn. The rooster was our morning alarm clock and the dog’s alert was a no-nonsense bark that intruders respected.

As a teenager I used to enjoy thinking about my adventures with my Collie. This enjoyment died when he developed a deadly skin disease. This was a painful time, and I did not like the emotions it created. My decision to shut out this sad feeling was my method of running away from reality. So, this was now an area I would avoid during meditation.

As I looked down at my watch, I realized that several hours had elapsed since I had collapsed on the bench. Jumping up, I decided I would go to the Riverview Animal Shelter. The policeman probably had taken Sassie there.

This was the shelter that Judge Thomas had sentenced me to do my community service. It was his ruling in my assault case. Was it only a year ago? So much has happened in that time. I returned to the farm to live with my parents. Pop died. Mom had those feelings of being watched. At that time, I was unsure if Mom’s fears were real or imagined. However, there were those mysterious calls with riddles that were confusing. Her stress and insulin irregularity placed her in the county hospital.

I quickened my pace. My involuntary cry was filled with the sound of despair, “Why do all these horrible things keep happening to me?”

The only reply to my question was the sound of my hurried footsteps.


With her permission, I will be serializing a chapter a week, on this blog, the material from this novel by Helen A. Bemis, published by Outskirts Press and available through amazon.com: 


As her editor and coach, I aided Helen through my WriteYourBookWithMe.com endeavor.

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