Okay! Well, I sat down and really thought about this one. I really didn’t know where to start. I mean, there have always been crushes and “so and so has the hots for you know who” and that sort of business. But where do you draw the line and say, “This is a schoolgirl crush and this is love.” To some, well, to many, I’m sure that’s a really easy question to answer, I mean, love is LOVE, right? You can’t fake that, you can’t fool it.
But if there’s one thing you should learn about me, if nothing else, is that I am passionate. Not about anything in particular, just in general. And that doesn’t mean I just LOVE everything either, it means I hate and love with equal ferocity. Obviously I try not to hate too many things, but if I get started on something, you’re not going to hear the end of it for a while. This is also why I’m absolutely useless in arguements. When something starts getting heated, I get wild off the emotion and I can’t talk, I can’t reason, I can’t stand up for myself. I just scream or cry as appropriate. Sometimes both.
Anyway, enough of this philosophical claptrap. This is all beside the point. I just wanted you to know that this one is difficult for me, because I feel like I’ve loved people and things and places my entire life, and I don’t know what the first one possibly could have been.
So, on Tim’s suggestion, I decided I’d sidestep the issue a little bit. Oh, I could talk about all my unrequited love stories, or the emotionally unfulfilling boyfriends, or I could even go into ridiculously icky detail about what I share with Tim. But nobody wants to read that, and quite frankly, that’s the sort of thing that’s between us.
I thought I’d tell you about the first time I really loved something that wasn’t an immediate family member. Well, I guess she was eventually. But she wasn’t when I fell in love. This is the story of Sascha.
Anyone who read my previous entry on Rosie will not be surprised to learn that Sascha was a dog. I just broke my own little heart for a second there, when I wrote ‘is’ instead of ‘was’. Sascha had to be put down recently. She was old, so so old, and she had arthritis and she got sick. And it was all too much in the end. I wish I could have been there. But she was so very old that, at least, I had the foresight to realise that the last time I was in Canberra was probably the last time I would see her, so I made sure to say my goodbyes to what had been my first unconditional friend.
But I’m starting at the end.
Let’s see, some quick maths here. Sascha was 16 when she was put down earlier this year, and I’m 24 now, so that would mean I was about 8 when we met. My grandparents had decided they wanted another dog. They had had another dog earlier, but I was too young to remember her. But they decided they wanted another one, at last. We went to the local RSPCA to find a dog that was suitable. I don’t remember their criteria for a suitable dog. I don’t even remember where it was, or taking more than a cursory look at the other dogs.
I had seen Sascha, and I knew she would be coming home with us. As my grandparents and parents and brother all wandered around looking at the other dogs, I sat next to Sascha’s pen and talked to her and played with her, and told her that we would be her new family.
In retrospect, this seems quite bratty of me, insisting that we couldn’t have any other dog, ’cause I wanted this one. But love was love, and soon, everyone was piled back into Dad’s 4WD, Sascha and me insecurely, but happily bundled up in the back part of the Pajero. Normally, such an unsafe ride would have been so exciting! But I only had eyes for Sascha, my new friend.
Sascha was such a peculiar dog. Even when she came to visit us in Sydney, she had different areas of the backyard to poop and pee in. I know, so mature, right? But seriously, anyone who has ever owned a dog will know what I mean, about NOT having to do the daily or weekly poop patrol before mowing the lawn. She pooped in the very back, furthest corner of the backyard, and peed in the opposite corner. It was bizarre.
And I remember when we brought her home the first time, the very first thing she did was run circles and circles and circles around the backyard, tongue lolling out happily. She was just so happy. She was such a friendly dog. I never heard her bark at anyone, or any other dog, despite not being even slightly trained. Except at birds. They teased her, and she barked back at them. I’m sure, deep down, it was a playful friendship.
That was the thing about Sascha. Everything was playing. She never got in trouble, so being naughty became the best game. She would sneak into the house and plonk her little bottom down in the kitchen with a big ol’ doggy grin on her face, and would not MOVE until she was given a treat. She was the perfect dog for my grandparents, because she needed so little training, but wasn’t more naughty than, say a toddler. She didn’t maul people or, I dunno, pee on your wedding dress. She just wanted a doggy biscuit, and maybe a little fetch, and then she’d be good again.
I loved her so much. Sometimes I would look forward more to seeing her than I did my grandparents, though I’d never admit that to any of my family! She was just such a good dog. And, with her, never having had a pet of my own, I knew the unconditional love of silent doggy companion for the first time. I loved her so much. I wish I could have been there at the end.
One of the things I remember most about Sascha is how she would, Grandma told us again and again, recognise the last leg of the journey from Canberra to Sydney. She would, I’m told, get excited and tail-waggy when she realised where she was headed, to see the other extended members of her pack.
I wish Rosie could have met her. I think they would have been fast friends. After the initial barking and butt-sniffing, of course.
I loved her so much. I miss you, Sascha.