This week, we expected to honor the memory of Zoe, our first dog.  She crossed over Rainbow Bridge 4 1/2 years ago.  What we did not anticipate is that we would be grieving the loss of our sweet Sasha girl who joined Zoe this past week.  There is something heart-wrenching and excruciating about losing a beloved pet.  You cry with their head in your lap as you whisper over and over how much you love them.  You try to comfort yourself with the knowledge that they are no longer in pain, but it does not make it any easier.

Zoe was our Dalmatian/Lab mix.  We affectionately referred to her as “pesto puppy” because of her constant demand for attention and her need to expend boundless energy.  I don’t think I have ever encountered a more demanding dog.  It was Zoe who inspired my career as a professional dog trainer. Through Zoe I learned the value of patience, trust, and a positive approach in developing the strongest bond possible.   My heart grew bigger.

I rescued Sasha 12 1/2 years ago from a shelter in Florida. She was always the sweetest, most gentle and loving dog.  She seemed to welcome every day with a “doggy smile” and always comforted everyone around her. Yet, despite her calm demeanor she was forever a “hunter dog” and I am reminded of moments during her life when true instinct took over.

I recall the time she joined me and Jon for a run and took off bounding into a pond to swim after the ducks.  The ducks tormented her, staying just far enough in front of her to force her to swim back and forth again and again in this small pond.  She was so entranced with the chase, ignoring my calls for her attention, I finally had to take off my running shoes and swim out in the middle of the pond to retrieve her.

Sasha was always well-mannered but she was also skilled at stealing food.  She once did a “drive by snarfing” of an entire plate of food held by someone distracted in conversation who was unknowingly tempting her.  Sasha’s daily routine  at the office consisted of making the rounds to everyone’s trash can just to make sure no morsels were inadvertently left behind.
Sasha was a soulful dog- you could see it in her eyes.  She always provided comfort.

No words can articulate what one goes through when saying goodbye, so as we honor the memories we find comfort in the wonderful memories of the life we shared as a family.  We can honor their memory by trying to live our lives with the inspirations they gave us – live in the moment, make time for play, go after what you want, be persistent, recognize opportunity, and take time to unwind.  Dogs have an uncanny way of modeling what we should be doing every day.  So we will continue our quest to “live life like dog” and in the journey always remember the love, joy, and comfort these extraordinary “teachers” brought to us. They are forever in our hearts.