Signs my Deceased Dog was OK, Part 1

In 2006 I was 26 years old. I had been married, graduated from college and bought my first house, all within a year. 

    -So it was an exciting time.  "Why not adopt a dog," I thought naively. 

    I mean we had a house, and a mostly-fenced-in-yard, so a dog made sense. We already had a cat and a bird.

    So I went to the municipal shelter, naively. 
    I wanted a puppy, naively. 
    None were really jumping out at me as I thought should happen so I somewhat randomly settled on a little caramel-colored and white 10 week old bully breed. 
    After choosing my puppy with about as much forethought as I'd use to choose a dress, I was walked down a concrete hallway of the shelter by a halfway house worker, doing his time 'working' (very well and diligently I might add). 
    Another halfway house worker crossed our paths... with a puppy in his arms. 

    I stopped in my tracks and said, "I want that one."
    "But you already picked yours, that cute little pittie boy," my halfway house worker nicely proclaimed.
    "But that's the dog for me. Can't I get her, please? Do you think she already has a home?" I asked naively. 
    "No. I don't think so," he said, as we did a u-turn in the hallway to follow that puppy.
    We found her being escorted, still in the other halfway worker's arms, into a small room.
    Months later I'd learn that was the euthanasia room.
    This was 13 years ago and owner surrendered puppies, dogs, cats, kittens, you name it, were still being euthanized upon intake due to 'time/space' (or lack there of it you should say). 
    Again, I'd learn all of this in great detail months later.

    "She had picked a puppy out but really wants this one now. Can she still get her?"
    I'd heard my halfway house worker ask, behind a semi-closed-door.

"She's Yours!" said my halfway house helper worker dude, as he emerged from the little room with the puppy in his arms.

    And I was ecstatic. I arranged to pick her up a few days later, once she was spayed, and rushed home to tell my then-husband all about her.

    The next day he and I, along with another pal from Venezuela, returned to Metro Animal Services to meet her. 
    "Isn't she so cute?!" I proclaimed.
    "She has the markings of a rottweiler," I added naively, "and I've always loved rottweilers!"
      Jose and Jose (yes there are a lot of Latin guys named Jose) weren't very impressed.
    "Her ears are kind of funny-looking," giggled my husband.
    Our friend, who was in town for a visit didn't say much but did mention he had a pure-bred German Shepherd back home. -Her name was Sasha. 

    "'Sasha,'" Me gusta ese nombre! I'm going to name her Sasha too!" I said, thrilled with the moment, my puppy and her new name (although I did wish my then-hubby would've showed more enthusiasm about her). 

Before Sasha I had been a so-so dog person.

    I wasn't some huge dog lover and didn't know a lot about dog ownership. But I knew the basics: I should walk her every day, crate train and be sure she knows I'm the alpha.

    I was pretty good at the basics. I crated her to sleep, whenever we were gone and even at meal and cooking times because I didn't want her to beg (the only problem was I got a crate that was way too big for her so it didn't really help with house-breaking... a total novice I was!). 

    Life was Sasha was full of fun, love, learning, and the ups and downs of having a puppy in the home.  At times I'd feel so frustrated with her I'd wonder why I had even adopted her.  At times I thought there was 'something wrong with her' because she acted so goofy (there was nothing wrong with her; just a typical puppy!).  When on the computer or in the bathtub Sasha would stand near by and bark at me like, "Come on, you're done now mom!"
    This was highly annoying but at the same time made me feel pretty special, although I wouldn't have admitted it back then!

    I loved walking or jogging with Sasha. I loved taking her to parks where people would ask to pet her. -I was a proud dog-mom.      One of my favorite Sasha memories is a night I took her to my mom's to visit her and my sisters, who were just 10 years old at the time.  -That puppy ran and put on such a show for those little girls and they laughed and giggled til they cried. 

    And the whole way home (45 minute drive it was) she slept on the passenger seat of my car. She looked so cute. -And I was so proud. 

The only photo I could find of Sasha at the moment.

    And then, about six months after having her, she was gone.

    December 2nd: Sasha woke me up earlier than I wanted to be awoken on a Saturday.  So I broke my own rule and let her up in the bed with me. My then-husband was a truck driver and was away.  -He did not want a dog in the bed.  
    Sasha curled up so snug and perfectly into the crease of of the back of my knees and fell right to sleep. 

    "I'm telling Jose this dog is going to sleep with me when he's gone, I don't care," I thought, so cozy and content, and drifted back off to sleep.

    Thanks to letting Sasha share the bed with me I got to sleep in later than I had in quite some time. So late in fact that I felt the day was getting off to a late start.  So I fed and let Sasha out to potty but skipped her morning walk, feeling pretty guilty about it. 

    "I promise we'll walk later," I told her and as I left the house.
    I went to the mall to buy a new outfit to wear to our company's Christmas party. -I was working for AFLAC at the time. Nowadays when I buy a new outfit for anything, I go to the Goodwill, and one would never know it, if for not reading it here! 

    Upon returning home my husband was back, which was nice. I showed him what I bought and proceeded to get suited up to walk Sasha in the cold.

    There was ice on our stair rail. I was wearing gloves.  Sasha's leash slipped out of my hand and she trotted on. I didn't make a big deal of this since sometimes I'd casually let her off leashSasha was still just a puppy and was silly. She had a lot of energy and liked to tease me sometimes.  That day when I called for her, "Sasha," in a serious but sweet tone, she looked back, wagged her tail and trotted a few steps further, "Sasha," I'd say again, and so it went until...
Sasha was at the edge of the street, about to cross, when from several hundred feet away I saw a car coming.  I knew the timing was awful. Time stood still. I stood still and called to her, "Sasha," more urgently and she darted at the precise wrong moment. 

    The car ran over her, flipping her into the air, she flipped a few times and landed across the street in a neighbor's front yard.  
    We were just steps from my house.  I screamed, horrified and panicked and went to her.  
    The couple that hit her stopped.  They felt awful but didn't stick around as people walked out of their houses. 
    My husband walked out and saw what had happened.  I was screaming, saying we need to put her in something. 

    "Want to put her in this?" the neighbor whose yard she was in said, lifting up a square recycle bin. 
    "Nooooooo," I screamed, a blood-curdling scream.
    My husband got a blanket. We put her in the back of his jeep, her head on my lap.  He drove.  Sasha's tail still wagged some as I spoke to her, telling her this would all just be a crazy memory, she'd just have a scar on her head to prove what had happened. 
    Sasha was bleeding a lot. The seat and my hands were covered with her blood. And 13 years later, as I write this, I sob.  It's still awful to think about. It always will be one of the worse things I've ever endured. -And, don't get me wrong, I've been through some real shit in my life.

    First we drove to my regular vet who was closed since it was a Saturday, then we drove about 20 minutes away to an emergency vet.  
Sasha's eyes looked glazed over.  I didn't understand why she wouldn't blink anymore, neither close or fully open her eyes.          About that time we pulled into the parking lot, I gave her to the vet staff who frantically took her back.  
    They returned a couple minutes later.  There was nothing they could do to resuscitate- she was already gone when I had handed her to them... I just wasn't capable of seeing it that way, seeing her as dead.  It shattered my soul.  

I mourned Sasha's death for a long time. 

    My cousin had been killed in a violent way a few months before Sasha's death, a cousin with whom I grew up.  And I remember my then-husband saying, "You've been more affected and upset by Sasha's death than by your cousin's death."
    I denied it then, out of guilt, but he was right. And all these years later I know that's normal too... people mourn the loss of their pets like they mourn the loss of a dear human loved one (that is when you're closely bonded with your pet). 

Sasha's death catapulted me into the rescue world.

    Within months of Sasha's death I was volunteering at Louisville Metro Animal Services, the municipal shelter from where I'd adopted her.  
    I needed to be involved there after her death. 
    At first I'd cry after volunteering, it was hard, especially back then but my then-husband told me, "Toughen up. If you're going to get this upset every time you go there, you can't keep going there." 
    I knew he was right so I learned not to cry every time I volunteered.  But I lost some very dear friends to euthanasia those first several months of volunteering, and it was brutal. 
    Within a year of Sasha's death I was working full time at LMAS as an Animal Care Specialist.  I found one of my life's passion in rescue work and, in 13 years, I haven't left it. 
    While I no longer work in a shelter I do still volunteer, foster and have pet-care-related-businesses. 

I started out writing this blog post for a friend that recently lost her dog. I wanted to share the strange 'coincidences' that followed Sasha's death. 

    However, just leading up to that part of this 'story' is quite long so I'm doing this blog in 2 separate posts.  The divinity coincidences that followed Sasha's death will be shared in a following post... which I promise I'll get to within a week.

Lastly, all these years I've tried not to think about Sasha and what happened too much, because it still hurts.

    But I absolutely invoke her memory when it can help someone else.  -Just last spring my son, grandma and I were at a small, neighborhood park near our home.  There was a young woman in her early 20's there with her approximately 9 month old rescue puppy, and her mother.  At some point she let the pup off leash.  The pup was playful, silly and tottered off towards the back exit of the park, which runs along a train track.  She went calling her puppy and puppy wasn't returning. We all jogged to find the puppy, who was quite silly, looking back at us wagging her tail.

    "She just does that, she thinks it's funny. She won't 'go anywhere' though," commented the pup's young owner, smiling naively. 
    "I had a dog about her age years ago that was killed, hit by a car, and since then I never let a dog off-lead... especially when they're so young like that, it's just so risky," I said, smiling nicely, lovingly back.

    I wasn't judging this young woman. I had been this young woman, more than a decade ago.  Since then I've learned a whole lot about dog and puppy care.  -Keep em' safe.