Sunday, September 15, 2019


Understanding Sassie: A Novel of Dog and Human Communication

As Ruth was leaving the Riverview Animal Shelter, she thought of the golden-haired young dog that she had held in her arms.  She knew the dog would be held in the “Staff Only” area until the six-day waiting period had been completed.  However, when she had looked into this beautiful dog’s eyes, she felt a connection of love. 

“I’ve forgotten how good that can feel!” she said out loud.  She continued to explain, “When my Collie died, I thought I could never again feel that special love.”

Ruth thought about this blonde beauty and noticed that she seemed to have a sassy attitude.  Her intelligence brought Ruth laughter and joy.  I’m going to name her Sassie! she decided.  She had made it known to Jane that she wanted to adopt this dog.

The only response she received from her request was Jane’s uncommitted comment, “We’ll see.”

I guess I should not get my hopes up, Ruth said to herself.    Then with determination, she stated, “I’ve already become attached to this dog, and I will fight to make her my dog!” 

With that decision, Ruth arrived at the farm driveway.  She knew that her parents left early that morning to get their examination at the doctor’s office.  That is why she was surprised to see the driveway empty.  They should be home by now; maybe they decided to do some shopping and stop for a snack, she rationalized. 

Ruth let herself into the house, and as she took off her jacket, the phone began to ring.  I bet that is Mom calling to let me know they will be home soon.  She is good about not making me worry.

Ruth picked up the phone on the third ring. “Hello,” she happily answered the phone.  There was no response.  She said again, “Hello,” and this time she was louder and impatient. 

An unfamiliar voice, raspy and throaty, replied, “She never should have done it!” 

Before Ruth could ask the speaker who was talking or what this person was talking about, she heard a click and the sound of the dial tone.  The person had hung up.  She slowly replaced the receiver and began to wonder if this was just a wrong number. 

Hearing a car pull into the driveway, Ruth raced to the door to see if it brought her parents and if they had gone to the store.  She knew they could use the extra help for unloading the car, if grocery shopping was the reason for their late arrival. 

When she saw her parents, she noticed that they looked tired and sad.  As she bounded out the door, she said, “You look like you could use a hug.” They both smiled when they saw Ruth. 

Mom realized that Ruth would be wondering what the doctor had said to them.  She was tired and wanted to sit down; she asked Ruth to fix some tea before they would talk.  When the tea was poured and they had sat down at the kitchen table, Mom began, “The doctor said that I have diabetes.  The blood tests show that it will be necessary for me to watch my sugar intake, restrict my diet and take insulin shots.  Pop also had some blood taken for several tests.  The doctor said nothing about Pop’s blood tests, but he wanted Pop to get some x-rays next week.  They are also scheduling an MRI early next month.  The doctor claimed he just wanted to give Pop the complete routine check-up.”

They decided to have a quick dinner of soup and sandwiches.  Ruth told them about her busy day.  She mentioned the beautiful young dog that had been brought to the shelter late that afternoon.  “I could not believe it!  This dog gave me a hug!  All I did was hand her a treat, and she kissed me and would not stop hugging me.” 

Ruth was so excited about telling her parents about her day that she forgot to mention the earlier mysterious phone call.

When dinner was done, and the table had been cleared, it was evident to all that bedtime would come early tonight.  Everyone was tired, and each person heard the call of Mr. Sandman.   Ruth slowly climbed the stairs to her room.  She was exhausted, but her thoughts were happy. 

She managed to change, get into bed and as she slept, she began to dream of the fun times she had shared with her Collie.  It looked like Sassie was already helping to heal the pain and sad emotions of Ruth’s past. 

The next morning Ruth got up early. She wanted to get to the shelter early and spend a little bit of time with the young dog she had decided to name Sassie.  “I believe that I know how to train Sassie so that she will pass the behavior test.  I just need to get the kind of treats that Sassie will enjoy.”

Then she added the thought, after all, I trained my Collie with the kind of treats my Collie would enjoy.


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

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

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