Chapter 1: Puppyhood – different shades of love
January 7th, 2011: I walked in to the pet store; I had gone to get something for Sage and Seammas. I saw her and my heart melted. She was this little girl who looked at you and you just knew she could see inside your soul.
From Sasha: All I had known was changing. I went to this store expecting to have fun and play with some other puppies. First change was this family came and took my sister. I thought they would bring her back after a while. I mean I would have brought her back she could be so annoying at times. So I waited and waited and she didn’t come back. But I did notice this lady. She was a nice looking lady and she came straight towards me. I liked her, I kept licking her fingers they tasted so good. But she looked sad like she wanted to take me home but was afraid to do so. I wonder if she knew where my sister had gone.
The next day she came back, she came right over and picked me up. She had tears in her eyes. I cuddled up in her arms and went to sleep. She started to call me Sasha. I was told that Sasha means protector of mankind. I liked it and I liked her. It was like we were meant to be together. I did miss my sister but little did I know that waiting for me at home was two siblings that would teach me a lot about being a dog.
Sasha was a whopping 10 lbs when she came home. She was a little love bug too. Clingy and needed someone to be with her 24 hours a day 7 days a week. She wasn’t sick or anything that was just her personality. I remember I was in middle of packing up my house so it was easier to keep them in their crates while I worked and she would whine and cry until I came into view. It made packing up the house difficult but somehow we made it. She also had this incessant need to sleep with me. I had just gotten to the point where I wasn’t letting any of the dogs sleep with me. Here was this puppy that would not settle down and sleep in her crate. After she peed in my bed the first time I had decided the best thing I could do is make her sleep in her crate. She had blankets in there and pee pad. For the first time in a week I actually got a full night’s sleep. However in order to get that I had to lie down on the floor next to Sasha’s crate until she fell asleep. This was also followed by an hour of us running up and down the stairs to wear her out. Only I was usually the first one to wear out. It was a great weight loss program for me. This puppy was going to be more challenging for me than I remembered puppies being. Maybe it was because I was older or maybe it was because my own world was in chaos and everything was changing.
From Sasha: I could tell that this new momma was under a lot of stress. She kept telling me it would be ok. I was worried about her though. I mean what if she changed her mind about me? Where would I go? Who would love me? Even though her world was in chaos she made my life as normal as possible. She would even stop what she was doing if I would need her. Now that is love. Peeing in her bed…. Well I tried to tell her I had to go outside. She chose to ignore me what was a puppy to do. When you gotta go you gotta go!
Off to San Francisco:
A few days later we moved to San Francisco. I was worried about how this move would affect my sweet little Sasha. I had planned to send her with my friend ahead so that she could get used to her new home before I brought Sage and Seammas. Sweet little Sasha was having nothing to do with that. She threw a fit literally she cried like nothing else and then she pooped all over her crate. She knew how to get my attention and she was telling me she was not leaving without her mom. So we loaded the whole family up in the truck and headed out. That wasn’t the only accident we had on the way there either.
Sasha adjusted very well to San Francisco. She liked the cool ocean breeze. She met some wonderful friends there as well. We found this really cool website that promoted dog socialization and if Sasha was going to be my service dog she had meet other dogs. One of the dogs she met was Jenna and she is this beautiful Native American Indian Dog. She taught Sasha to run off leash and come back to me. Jenna was a great influence on Sasha. One of her other friends was Jasmine, she and Sasha loved to run up and down the beaches at Half Moon Bay. I miss watching them play. They loved each other too. Get the three of them together Sasha would sleep for hours after we got home from a play date. Since moving to Oregon I know that Sasha misses both of them terribly.
From Sasha: I loved San Francisco, I loved Fort Funston, Half Moon Bay and I loved my friends I made there. I do miss my girls Jenna and Jasmine. We always had so much fun together. I keep wondering if they will move to Oregon too that way we can have some more play-dates. Momma says that one day we will go back to San Francisco and see them. I can’t wait.
Her other good friend is Will. They have only met once but we love him just the same. His gram and I talk often about our favorite fur-children and she has gotten me through some of my issues with Sasha.
Sasha has two speeds go and go faster. It took a lot to wear her out but Jenna and Jasmine sure gave it their best shot. Usually by the time we got the car in drive after such a play date Sasha would be crashed in the back seat. We had a great number of friends we would meet up with. I loved how dog friendly San Francisco was. I believe that these encounters have helped Sasha be the dog she is today. Friendly, loving and willing to play at the drop of a ball.
Her first year was dedicated to teaching her to be a loving dog. Oh she learned basic obedience; she knew sit and stay although she still to this day doesn’t stay very well. Something we are always looking to improve upon. However I wanted her to know love. I wanted her to feel love and most importantly I want her to understand love and many may say she is just a dog. Yes that is true but she is my dog and she is being trained to be my service dog. We have to have a bond beyond understanding. I need to trust her and she needs to trust me. I have spent a lot of hours developing this bond with her and when her puppiness doesn’t get in the way we are an awesome team. I want to have a special connection with her that only she and I get. I want to look at her and know her beyond belief and I want her to know me beyond belief. To have that you have to see the shades of love that I am discovering with her. When she is excited, when she is sad or when she is frustrated. You recognize those moments and treasure when you do see them.
From Sasha: Love is a funny thing. I don’t like to be disciplined. But momma keeps telling me there are things that I can’t do as a service dog. Like poop in Wal-mart. (Don’t ask). Momma believes that discipline is the key to truly loving someone or me. She says if she didn’t love me she would let me run wild and be a pill. I guess that is true. I know she loves me lots, I know that deep in my heart. I love her too. I want to do the best I can to help her.
When you go through this journey of training them to be your service dog there comes a moment when you realize that this dog is going to change your world. You will do anything in the world to help her succeed. I have made sacrifices to have her be my service dog and I know she will make sacrifices for me as well. We are learning to be a team and we are learning to love each other and that is what this journey is all about.
Off to Oregon:
Life has not been an easy one this year and a half since Sasha came into my life. My dad got really sick and I wasn’t finding any work in San Francisco. I have since moved home to help my mom out with my dad. All three of the kids traveled with me. They did great on that move too. I knew Sage and Seammas would enjoy it immensely they love road trips. I wasn’t sure about Sasha, she did freak out a little bit when we moved from Fresno to San Francisco. However true to her character she took this adventure in stride. I was more nervous for her than she was. I think as long as she knew she was going with me she was ready for the trip. For the last 8 months we have been waiting for mom and dad’s new house to be finished and that has been a trial of patience for all of us but every morning when I take Sasha out for our morning walks we are developing a special bond. Those morning walks are our time to talk, and to love each other. She loves this time with me and I love it with her as well. Sasha is my protector, my love and my special girl. I as her care provider and she as my Sasha, my sweet little girl who is growing every day into the service dog I hope her to become.
From Sasha: I insisted that momma let me have the last word of the chapter. I also love those morning walks. I have seen momma cry on these walks, I wanted to lick her tears away. I have seen momma get angry on these walks, I wanted to make her happy. I have seen momma laugh on these walks, I wish she would laugh more. We are a team me and her. She is my world and I am hers. I wouldn’t trade her for the world and I truly believe she feels the same about me. She has been through so much I only want to give her the best of me because she has given me the best of her. That is love I believe giving the best of ourselves to the other.
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