Two weeks ago she was cavorting with her new companion, Princess, a 1 year old miniature schnauzer, and the two have become best friends. Sasha has always loved people, but the Akita in her (she is half Akita, half Border Collie) has always been very dominant with other dogs, especially females. When I was offered to take Princess home, from a parishioner who cannot keep her anymore, I brought Sasha to the house, and she met Princess on the little dogs’ territory. They became fast friends. Princess is not your typical Schnauzer – she doe not bark, except very occasionally when excited and playing with Sasha.
I have watched these two play wrestle many happy times. My wife is probably tired of me mentioning how much I love to watch them play (almost as much as my bragging about my resting heart rate of 40!)
I knew Sasha had cancer (a mediastinal growth) for over a year, but she has still had a lot of vigor for an old girl, and only a couple weeks ago, she was running in the woods with my grandchildren and I.
I do not have any illusions about dogs. I don’t have any patience for all that new age stuff. They do not go to heaven, and they are not angels. They have a soul, as all animals do, but their soul is not eternal. When they die, they pass out of existence, but while they live, the exceptional ones are a great gift from our creator, and Sasha has been so good to me so many times, than I have thought of her as a kind of “guardian angel”.
I have been through a lot of life with Sasha. I got her from the pound in Plano, only days before I was to go on a trip to Russia. I was in pretty big trouble for this, because, shall we say, I made a unilateral decision. When I saw Sasha at the pound, she was an absolutely beautiful , alert 1-2 year old dog, in a large cage with at least 8 other dogs. As I walked to the cage, all the dogs were against the cage, barking. Sasha was not barking, but just looked at me, and, I do not want to be too mystical here – we (Sasha and me) just knew.
Sasha likes everybody, but she has always been my dog. Most of her life, if I was home, she wanted to be with me. Only lately, did she not as readily get up and come join me when I went into my study, but she always came when called.
I believe dogs teach us a lot about Christianity. They are loyal, obedient, and they always forgive. I have had plenty of difficult times in the past 10 or so years, and Sasha always seemed to know. When I was really down, she would come and join me on the couch. Normally she did not like to sit on the couch, but on the floor beside me. She has always been a constant in my life. I am not much of a constant – I have good days and bad ones, but Sasha always had good days, and was always chose to not leave my side when she sensed I was not doing so well.
For Sasha, I am grateful to God. She was there for me in some dark times. I am glad that god’s love is so powerful that is can even be expressed in the ways of senseless animals.
I will miss Sasha, and in some ways I do not need such a special companion anymore, but I hope that someday I can find one that is like her.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2010. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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