In Memory of Sassy

In Memory of Sassy

Samantha Burgio

 As my mom came back to the car with a little white dog run- ning beside her, I didn’t know my life would change forever. One day in 2010, when I was ten, my mom told me that she was taking our dog Tete, a Chihuahua and Jack Russel mix,  to a place in Belmont to aud- ition for a dog show. Tete was four years old at the time, not very old. Of course I believed it, since this dog is very well-behaved compared to our other dogs. She has rarely gotten into trouble in the entire time we have had her. I thought it was a pretty cool opportunity, so I said that I would join them.

On the ride there, my mom and dad were quiet. I was wondering how this was going to work and how exactly Tete was going to get famous in Cattaraugus County.  We arrived at a small place with a long driveway. No other houses were close. When I started getting suspicious, I asked: “Guys, are you sure this is the right place?” Nobody answered.

As we pulled in, I was aware of all of my surroundings. I told myself: This doesn’t look like a place that someone would audition a dog! There was a sign on a dark object saying “STAR Animal Rescue.”

My dad shut the car off and my mom told me to stay put in the car with Tete for a minute while they went ahead and met the lady. Looking out the windshield, I took a quick look at the her. She was older with long gray hair. She looked very nice, greeting my parents with a big smile.

The next thing I knew, the lady headed towards her house and came back a few seconds later. There was a Golden Retriever, a Chocolate Lab, and a small Jack Russell all running towards my parents as if they were welcoming them home after a long time away. I love dogs, so suddenly I wanted to get out of the car to pet them.

About five minutes passed, and all the while, my parents were still talking with the lady. Then, I saw my mom hand the lady money. It looked legit, so I thought that maybe my mom was donating money for the rescue this lady was part of. My dad waved, yelled thank you, and started walking towards the car. I then glanced in my mom’s direction: she was also making her way over to the car, but not on her own. Beside her, the little Jack Russell also came. I was suddenly confused, wondering what was going on. I thought maybe she was bringing the dog over to meet Tete. I opened the door and the dog came over and sniffed Tete for awhile. After the dog met Tete, she came over and put her front two paws on my legs and licked me, her tail wagging.”Aw, what’s her name?” I asked, a big smile on my face.

“Sassy,” My dad answered.

When I looked up, I noticed that the lady was no longer standing there, and neither were the other two dogs.

“Where did they go?” I asked, still not realizing what was going on.

“They went back in the house,” my mom said. “Okay, jump in Sassy. Let’s go home.”

“What?” I said, surprised. “She gets to come home with us?”  I was so excited, I started hugging Sassy.

“I can’t believe you guys tricked me!” I said, still excited.

“Now do you believe me when I say that you’re gullible?” my mom said, smiling.  The whole ride home, I could do nothing but smile. I was so surprised.

When we got home, I immediately gave her a bath. I let her get used to our house and smell around. I gave her a few treats, and that’s when she seemed content with her new home and family. About a week later, my dad told me that he wanted me to keep her for myself.

“My own dog? Are you serious?” I asked, my eyes filled with excitement.  When my parents smiled at me, I knew they were serious.

The years following that day were awesome. I was so happy to have my very own pet. Sassy followed me around, accompanying me in every action. She soon knew that I was her owner and counted on me for everything. We spent endless time together and she fit in perfectly. I knew that she was happy and I myself was happy that I was able to give her a better life than she had ever known. She knew how much I loved her.

 Then, over time, we noticed that Sassy was beginning to gain a lot of weight; almost weekly, to be exact. Not a heaping ton every week, but a few pounds were noticeable as time went by. When it got to the point where I knew her health might be in danger, I started giving her slightly smaller portions. I thought maybe I was giving her too much food for her meals even though I wasn’t giving her that much to begin with.

She seemed to be adjusting to the portions fairly quickly, as the portion size wasn’t too different. Months passed, and she was still very active, along with my other dogs. She was still willing to come outside and chase a ball across the yard over and over until she was completely tired out. We even exercised together all of the time as an extra step to help her lose weight. It helped a little.

Some time later, her activity began to decrease. It wasn’t all at once, so I wasn’t worried immediately as this was happening. But when her lying down time in a day began to get longer, I became worried. She seemed to be gaining that little bit of weight that she lost back, which was odd.

I would come home from school, and she would no longer come running to me to welcome me home. I would go outside to do something and she would no longer run as fast as she could to the door to let me know that she was joining me. She would no longer carry a little ball in her mouth to me and wag her tail so fast that it looked like it was going to fall off. She was showing less signs of good health or comfort. I became sad and worried.

When I asked my mom and dad to look at her, they couldn’t figure out what the problem was. They thought at the most that she was bloated, but it was happening too often for her to just be bloating. I laid with her a lot at this point, trying to understand her pain and fix her problems. When I was busy, I would check in on her every fifteen minutes or so, only to find her looking back at me with a sorrowful expression. I knew that she was experiencing a lot of pain.

About a week later on January 31, 2017, we decided to take her to the vet. I was very worried about what they would say about her up to that point, mainly just hoping that they could help her.

 The vets gave her a normal checkup, listening to her heartbeat and feeling around her stomach. They noticed that her heartbeat was irregularly fast, which meant that her lungs were not in their best state. The vet reported back that her lungs were filled with fluid, making it hard for her to breathe. They said that the amount of fluid in her system was not small, and it was a big danger at this point. If we had waited much longer, she would have been on her way to having heart disease or failure as well. I was devastated and cried.

My mom asked if there was anything they could do for her that might help her in the long run. When it took him awhile to respond, I knew there wasn’t.

“We’re running out of choices,” the vet said. “I’m sorry to say it, but it might be time for her.” The vet gave us some alone time with her in the office, and I used every second of it. I told her I loved her and then went to the car because I couldn’t watch.

In the car, I tried my hardest to think of all the good memories we had together and the good times we had. I cried and cried: she was the closest pet I ever had, and she meant the world to me. We went home and buried her. I feel a deep heartache every time I think about her to this day.

I’m happy because I knew that I rescued her from a life where she might have never gotten love from a family as strongly as she did with mine. I gave her a good life, and that’s all that mattered. More importantly, she is in a better place now. She no longer has to suffer. She knew she was loved very deeply. I will always think of her, no matter what, and there will always be a spot in my heart for her.