Last Monday, we had to say goodbye to a family member. My sweet 13 year old toy poodle, Sasafrass, went over the rainbow bridge on December 1.
Over the summer when we first moved back to central Mississippi, we were really excited that our dogs would get to go back to our old veterinarian. We love this place, and this vet is the one who saved Sassy after she almost died being attacked by a dog a few years ago. We took them for their yearly checkup in June, and everything looked great aside from Sassy just being old and needing her teeth cleaned.
In July, Sassy got really sick and we ended up having to board her at the vet for a few days so they could watch her. She made a full recovery, but the vet happened to notice a lump on her upper right gum. She was concerned because it was not there in June when she came for her checkup. We agreed to let her take it out surgically, and we would get her teeth cleaned while she was under, a win/win. Sassy did great, and the vet sent the growth off to be biopsied.
Keep in mind I was 8 month pregnant, we were in the middle of selling our house and buying a new one. We were trying to pack up and move, and everything was just really crazy. It didn’t even phase me when we never heard from the vet about the biopsy. They are very busy there, and I assumed no news was good news. I had Emma Kate, and in October I took the dogs to get haircuts and meant to ask about the biopsy but totally forgot.
We went on with life with a newborn, until mid November when one day Sassy started acting weird. She was shaking and panting and following me around the house which she never does, so I sent a video to Bobby telling him I was worried. She eventually calmed down, and that night, Bobby gave me the news. He told me that Sassy’s growth was malignant, and that she only had a short while left. The vet was actually surprised she had made it this long. I was in shock, and didn’t believe it. She was fine otherwise aside from walking a little slower, so I just didn’t understand.
Apparently, the biopsy came back soon after the tumor was removed, and the vet, knowing I was 8 months pregnant, had the foresight to call Bobby instead of me. They decided it was a good idea to not tell me just yet, and let me have the baby and only tell me when necessary. Bobby felt like it was getting close to time when I called him in a panic, and he was right. We got some pain pills form the vet and when she was on them, she acted fine, perfect, and happy…but I knew she couldn’t live on them forever.
The vet said the next thing to happen would be breathing difficulties, and I did not want that to happen, or Sassy to suffer one day while I wasn’t home. She was getting worse, so we asked the vet for enough pills to get us through Thanksgiving so we could have one more holiday with her, and take her to my parents house one more time. We had a great weekend, and on Monday morning, Bobby took Sassy to the vet. It was a very difficult day for me. I just wanted to crawl in the bed and cry but I had to take care of the baby, which I guess was good because it somewhat distracted me.
cheering on runners during a local triathlon in our neighborhood
Sassy truly was a member of the family. I had her longer than I have known Bobby. I got her in September of my junior year of high school, just before the September 11th attacks. We have been through a lot, and she has lived in a lot of places (my parents, my apartment in college, and four other houses with us since). I have a hard time remembering a time when I didn’t have her.
She loved going for walks, rolling on her back, playing under a blanket, “talking” to us, and showing us her toys (or a sock, or a scrap of paper, it didn’t matter.) She was so submissive, always wanting to please people, and was very obedient.
I am still not used to her being gone, and say things like “the girls” referring to Bella and Sassy, then I remember it’s just Bella, and it’s hard. This is a hard time of year for a loss, but I know she is not in pain anymore. She lived a good, long life where she never had to stay outside and be too hot or cold, never had to go hungry, and always had someone to pet her.
When you get a puppy, you don’t think about years down the road when you will have to say goodbye. I felt so guilty because I knew she didn’t understand. She didn’t understand why she was in pain, or what was happening when I watched Bobby drive away with her for the last time. I miss her so much, but am trying to hold on to all the good times and the fond memories of our first baby girl.
Sasafrass “Sassy” August 4, 2001 – December 1, 2014.
We love and miss you. Love, mom and dad.
Taken our last night together.