Chapter 8 of “A Life Worth Living – The Story of Sassy”
Chapter 8 – Nothing Lasts Forever
“This is Gabby.” Liz gushed over a white pile of fur that squirmed in her lap, barking all the while. “We saw how much you guys love Sassy that we had to get a dog too.”
Although it was near the end of Fall, the weather was still beautiful in Florida (as it almost always is!) so we joined the gang for yet another weekend party at Kris and Liz’s lake house. Today they were showing off a new addition to their family – a beautiful white maltese. However while Anne and I complimented them on their new baby, Sassy was not a fan.
“What’s the matter, dear?” Anne looked down from her chair at Sassy who was trying desperately to get picked up while Gabby yapped at her heels. “It’s ok, she won’t hurt you, go play.”
In spite of Anne’s command, it soon became clear that playing with Gabby was pretty much the last thing Sassy wanted to do. In fact, we quickly realized that the only thing Sassy wanted to do when it came to Gabby was to get away from her!
It’s not that Gabby was a bad dog – on the contrary, she was a loving and friendly puppy and I enjoyed playing with her. But as far as Sassy was concerned, Gabby was a bit too friendly — Sassy didn’t appreciate Gabby’s way of showing her excitement — which involved Gabby constantly getting right up in Sassy’s face and barking at the top of her lungs. For a mild mannered dog like Sassy (who was used to lounging away the day listening to elevator music in a quiet apartment), having Gabby chase her around and scream in her face wasn’t Sassy’s idea of a good time — in fact it scared the you-know-what out of Sassy every time!
As I observed the situation, I was unable to resist the obvious Seinfeld reference, “Has Gabby always been a close barker?”
Anne kicked me under the table and flashed a set of crazy eyes at my social faux pax, but Kris just played it off, “Oh, don’t mind Gabby, she does that to everybody.” (Which only proved that my reference was right on!)
But the problem was that Sassy did mind – she didn’t like having Gabby in her face at every turn. And it didn’t help matters that Gabby was much faster than Sassy – despite being less than a year old, Gabby had long legs and she could race circles around our little yorkie. Try as she might, Sassy just could not escape Gabby – or her bark. For that matter, neither could any of the rest of us – yikes!
Eventually I tried sitting on the floor and playing with both of the girls, holding out chew toys and the like for each of them to go after, but Gabby got to every toy first (no matter how much I tried to separate them), threw the toys even further away from Sassy, and then ran over to Sassy and barked in her face “play, play, PLAY” some more.
As you can imagine, Sassy quickly wanted nothing to do with the game, or with Gabby. Instead, Sassy’s new ‘game’ became how to get Anne or I to pick her up and help her escape.
Unfortunately for her, this marked the beginning of the end of Sassy’s time at the lake house; no longer was it a peaceful refuge for her to relax at while she spent time with us. Oh, we continued to try bringing Sassy with us whenever we visited our friends, but it was never the same – Sassy was always on edge – always trying to slink around quietly to avoid being seen and fearful that Gabby would come around the corner at any moment to try to play with her.
A few months later Liz and Kris got another maltese. When we heard the good news, we decided to bring Sassy over again – hoping that having a third dog in the mix would ease the pressure on the Sassy-Gabby situation. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. But that didn’t stop The Boz from making light of everything.
“You say he’s a puppy, Liz, but he looks like an old man!” The Boz laughed when he saw the new dog whose facial features and sparse hair around the head and face really did make him look a bit like of a lovable old hobo.
“Oh, Boz!” Liz laughed. “ Don’t be silly, he’s not an old man. His name is Peter and he’s my little bundle of joy.”
But Liz wasn’t the only one who loved Peter — Sassy was infatuated by him too! And the reason was obvious — Peter was just the opposite of Gabby – he didn’t bark, he moved slowly, and he appeared to take everything in stride. In those regards, he was very much like Sassy. And as soon as Sassy met Peter, it was clear they liked each other — both displaying a mutual (yet slow paced) interest by exchanging casual sniffs.
“Could this be love?” Anne laughed as she watched the lovebirds.
“Do I sense some chitlins’ on the way?” The Boz joked. “What’s the combo of a yorkie and maltese called?”
“Yaltese?” I offered.
“No, I think it’s a Morkie.” Liz laughed.
“I want the first puppy.” The Boz said. “And by the looks of it, it won’t be long in arriving.
“I wouldn’t get your hopes up there, buddy boy,” Anne advised, “Sassy got fixed a long time ago.”
“Oh well.” The Boz didn’t miss a beat, “Looks like my loss in Peter’s gain — he gets to have his fun without any consequences. Now why can’t I get a gig like that?”
“Because you’re al–” Anne began, but just then the back patio door opened and a white flash came bounding in.
“Gabby, my baby!” Liz smiled, reaching down to pick up Gabby, only to have the dog elude her and go barreling into Sassy and Peter — turning in quick circles to bark in each of their faces, reprimanding them for playing without her.
“It’s another great day on the lake.” Kris finally joined the group. “Gabby and I just went for a quick ride in the boat. Who wants to take a turn on the ski’s?”
“Already got my new suit on, big guy.” The Boz emerged from the bathroom as the same time and showed off his trunks – a rather loud Tommy Bahama print of a hula girl dancing. “I’m gonna make this girl shimmy and shake when I’m on the lake so be sure you ladies are watchin’!”
Meanwhile, it was a mad dash around the furniture in the living room and kitchen as both Sassy and Peter attempted to escape Gabby’s wrath – without success. Sassy zigged, Peter zagged, and Gabby caught them every time. Even when Sassy and Peter tried racing in opposite directions, Gabby tracked them down and corralled them back together – always berating them like a group of prisoners who had gotten out of line.
Finally I reached down and scooped Sassy up, “Don’t worry, girl, I’ve got you.” I whispered into her ear, before grabbing a beer and announcing to the group, “Sassy and I are gonna go sit on the dock and watch The Boz fall on his ass again out on those ski’s.”
“Be sure to watch her!” Anne fretted, always fearful of Sassy around the dock now. “In fact, I’m coming with you.”
“Yippee. Let’s all go.” Liz said. “Peter, Gabby, that means you too!”
Although nobody fell in the water this time (except of course The Boz and his hula girls), this would actually end up being one of Sassy’s last visits to the lake house. It had become clear to Anne and I that Sassy no longer enjoyed herself there, and since we didn’t want to continue to put her in uncomfortable situations, we started to leave her with Rose when we visited our friends.
And just like that we one of Sassy’s simple pleasures in life was gone.
Anne and I moved in to a new apartment less than a mile from USAA on December 28, 2002. Although we’d tried to convince Rose otherwise, she insisted that we take Sassy, mainly relying on the argument that it would be better for Sassy because one of us could come home to check on her at lunch so she wouldn’t have to be alone all day.
“That may be true,” Anne said to me while we were alone later, “But the real story is that my mom is feeling sorry for herself and giving us Sassy is all part of it.”
Whatever the truth really was, even though tried to get Rose to keep Sassy, in the end we acquiesced to her wishes and took Sassy with us — after all, in our hearts, Anne and I both really did want Sassy to live with us and when Rose “forced” us to take her, we were all to happy to agree.
Unfortunately, Sassy hated our new apartment.
Unlike the place she shared with Rose and Anne (which was on the first floor and had windows galore that gave Sassy a near 180-degree view of the outside), the new apartment was on the second floor and had a conservation view (read: a bunch of trees that Sassy could not easily see through). And whereas her old apartment had a lovely water fountain in a pond just outside the front porch that provided relaxing sounds when the windows were open; we discovered (only after moving in) that our new place had neighbors upstairs and down who made more noise after hours then we cared for. Then there was the fact that the old apartment had that special strip of grass out front that was basically Sassy’s private bathroom (one never spoiled by other dogs), while the new place had a patch that Sassy now had to share with other pets. As you can imagine, Sassy was not a fan of the move. (She would later end up doing her part to secretly destroy the place – but that was something we wouldn’t discover until a year later).
Nonetheless, to help Sassy make the transition, we showered her with toys and doggie treats — for the most part she still preferred the few toys she’d played with since she was a puppy and continued her fetish for plastic water bottles; as for the doggie treats, we might as well put our money in the trash can and saved a step because that’s where the canine treats landed when Sassy inevitably turned her nose up at them.
Although we kept a close watch on her potential allergy situation, we also gave in to her pandering for an occasional taste of human grade snacks. We were careful to observe her whenever we gave her anything new — and while she was still happy with her goldfish crackers, chips, and the like, we soon discovered that Sassy had a hankering for cheese, peanuts, SpaghettiOs, and something else…
“I swear, Sassy, you must be a cat trapped in a dog’s body,” Anne laughed from the kitchen, as she prepared a tiny bowl of food while Sassy flittered about on her tip toes trying to get a peak. “I’ve never seen a dog carry on like this for tuna fish.”
“It must be the smell.” I replied. “She was sleeping like a baby here on my lap but as soon as you opened the can, I saw her nose twitch. A few seconds later, she was flopping down from the couch and dashing in to see what you were doing.”
“Calm down, girl.” Anne put the small bowl on the floor. “OK, here you go, Sassy. Michael, start the count.”
“1…2…3…” I began.
“She’s done!” Anne laughed. “And as usual she’s acting like I didn’t give her anything.”
It’s true, Sassy was quite an actor when it came to getting food and she often tried to trick one of us into thinking the other person had not fed her – just as she tried to do now when I got up and went into the kitchen.
“What’s the matter, dear?” I played along. “Did mommy forget to feed you again?”
Sassy shook her head and danced around, sure that I would help her, but when Anne reached down, picked up her bowl, and put it in the sink instead of giving her more tuna, suddenly Sassy got angry and threw herself down on the floor in a fit – much to our delight. We got the best of Sassy that day, but a few nights later it was Sassy’s turn to have the last laugh.
Like many dogs, Sassy needed to get a monthly pill to prevent heart worms. Unlike most dogs, Sassy did not consider this to be a ‘treat’ and instead refused to eat it by itself. Anne wasn’t home at the time, so I came up with the simple plan to break up the pill, hide it in the mixture of chicken and rice, and put the meal down for Sassy to enjoy – certain that this would be sufficient to get Sassy to take her medicine.
However, less than five minutes later I was met with a surprise — one that I saved for Anne because I wasn’t sure anyone would believe it otherwise.
“Do you see what’s in the bottom of Sassy’s dinner bowl?” I asked Anne after she returned home, showing her the evidence of Sassy’s work – the bowl itself had been licked clean of chicken and rice, as were all four of the uneaten pill pieces – the only items remaining in the bowl!
“I take it you did not hide the pills inside a piece of chicken?” Anne laughed at my rookie mistake. “Next time try that. Or you can also try putting them inside of a ball of cheese or peanut butter.”
“But I don’t understand – how in the world can she pick out those pills when they were mixed in with the chicken and rice?”
“That’s easy, Sassy has a magic tongue. She’s been doing this her whole life.”
Anne then proceeded to take the pills and wrap them in some cheese – which Sassy greedily ate… and then spit out the pills!
“Not so fast!” Anne tried again, refusing to give up.
In the end, it wasn’t until we used some sticky peanut butter that we succeeded in getting Sassy to take her medicine.
“Score one for our side!” I smiled.
“You do realize that Sassy just played us like a fiddle, right?” Anne reached down to pick up Sassy, pretending to admonish her. “You just made us give you your chicken stew, and some cheese, and some peanut butter! You’re such a stinker!”
Sassy’s only reply was to burp in Anne’s face.
Sassy’s Life Lesson #8 – Nothing Lasts Forever
We saw in this chapter how Sassy’s once enjoyable time on the lake eventually came to an end – it’s a lesson that we should all take to heart – nothing in life lasts forever. We’ve talked in the past about the Seasons of Life, and I’d like to take this opportunity to delve a bit deeper into the subject.
Just like Sassy had no idea that outside forces (in her case the arrival of other dogs) would unexpectedly emerge and destroy her pleasure, so the same can happen to us as well. There is no guarantee that any of us will be here tomorrow. Sure, we like to think we will. We make plans. We take care of our health. We do all that we can to prepare for the future. But nothing can stop fate from changing our lives in the blink of an eye — an accident, a silent health scare, natural (or manmade) disaster, or any number of things could adversely affect our lives (or take them away).
That’s why it’s so important to truly enjoy the time we have on this earth. We’ve talked about savoring every moment of life before but this is a chance for a reminder: our time in this world is but a breath so it’s understand that NOW is the time to LIVE – not just to get by or hope for better things at some point in the future, but to live with PASSION in THIS moment. Enjoy the good things in your life while they are with you, find a way to truly appreciate them — because they will not last forever.
Points to Ponder
Think of three things in your life right now that are truly good?
What can you do to appreciate them more?
Can you find a way to focus on them more and truly ‘be present’ when you are in the moment with them?