Our beautiful Sasha
It’s been three months since you passed away.
It hadn’t come as a total surprise. Quite the contrary, your Dad and I have watched you deteriorate for quite some time. We have seen and worried about you losing all your muscles, so much so that we could see your ribs. We have noticed how you’ve gradually lost strength on your hind legs, preventing you from doing slow, trudging laps around the kitchen and, in the last month or so, to stand up properly for no more than a couple of minutes at a time. And we have wondered from time to time as to when and how you would be taken away from us.
Knowing the end was near, however, didn’t lessen our grief in any way. We had hurried across our front yard as we watched your front legs slide across the soft grass, masking our anxieties with nervous giggles. As we held your behind to help you go toilet, both your Dad and I have shed quite a few tears, wondering whether you would be reduced to not being able to stand at all, and if so, when. As we had to change your diet, from your soft, chewy Chum meals to mashed up rice and shredded chicken, and from that to soup, we had done so with just the tiniest dose of denial, not ready to accept that your days were well and truly numbered.
Your Dad and I have promised each other that we wouldn’t let you suffer. We were resolved that once you were in some kind of pain or discomfort, we would euthanise you. It could be that you would refuse any kind of food or liquid; or that your arthritic hind legs would give out completely. In the end, however, it was your heart murmur seizing your body that made us realise… ‘it was time’.
A nurse friend of mine told me once that with humans, hearing was the last thing to go; that sometimes, patients held on to their precious last breaths until their loved ones whispered in their ear that it was ok for them to go. For you, my beautiful girl, your hearing was the first of your senses to go; long before your eyesight and your taste buds. And I sometimes wondered whether because you could no longer hear us, no longer understand us, your conscience and other senses held on, determined to spend more time with us than perhaps absolutely necessary.
It was the hardest decision we’ve ever had to make, ending your suffering; it broke our hearts a little. It broke our hearts even more when, waiting for the vet to put you down, you tried to crawl your way out of my grasp, as if to say that you still had some fight in you left. It was a moment that gave me a split-of-a-second panic, thinking that we were about to end your life a little too soon. It was an image that had haunted my conscience and dreams for a few weeks afterwards.
You have always been a fighter. Your Dad used to tell me about a time you were badly injured from a hit-and-run accident, when you were only over a year old; one that left you paralysed on the lower half of your body, so much so you had to drag your behind because your hind legs couldn’t support you. He told me how the vet’s diagnosis was to operate you, but there was no guarantee that you would walk again afterwards. He also told me how his Mum took care of you, massaged your legs every night until miraculously, little by little, you could walk and run again.
I have witnessed with my own eyes how resilient you were; how a breast tumour and lingering cough didn’t deter you from ‘hanging around’. Again, you defied the vet’s prognosis that at 14, it was time to just make the remainder of your life as comfortable as we possibly could. It took us visiting another vet a year later whom told us that your heart was still in perfect condition and that you should survive the operation to remove the tumour.
The vet said that the operation could see you live up to another 1.5 years. Every literature about Jack Russell we’ve read said that Jack Russell could live anywhere between 14-16 years old. You, our beautiful Sasha, has defied all odds, living past your 18th birthday.
In the weeks after your passing, on my days off, I subconsciously looked for you, hoping to stumble upon you, sprawling on the carpet of our living room. I wished fervently to have you snuggle up next to my leg whilst I watch daytime TV or stretched beside me as I took a nap; the fact that you were no longer there reducing me to tears.
For your Dad, he purposely avoided mowing the grass in your area for about a month, not wanting to face the reality that you wouldn’t be there, greeting him. It was with heavy heart that he took that final step of accepting that you were no longer around; that of dismantling of your dog house.
We still remember you; still talk about you every day. We reminisce about the good ol’ days when, in your prime, you would run up and fly, putting all your trust in me to catch you mid-air. Or how we’d toss cut-up pieces of sausages and you’d skilfully catch and gulp them. As winter approaches, we miss your presence in-between us more and more, the fact that you would sleep either between your Dad’s legs or right up against my back when you have so much space on our king bed notwithstanding. Or how in your younger days, you used to walk in circular motion, ruffling the bed linen and quilt until they mould around your curled-up body perfectly.
We know you’re in a better place now, where you are no longer in pain. We envision you frolicking under the sun with all the other family dogs who have gone before you, digging up all those hidden bones you’ve missed so much. We thank you for enriching our lives with so much joy and memories to last a lifetime. And we still miss you, terribly, every day.