She trotted into our lives 13 years ago in the most adorable way possible. I heard someone yell out my name from the ground floor;
“Listen, the lift is coming up to our floor, just open the door when it reaches ok?”
As I opened the iron doors, I obviously looked ahead at eye level. There was no one. As I looked to the ground, there it was – a huge cane picnic basket with a pink bow strung loosely around its edges. Completely confused, I opened it expecting to find something to eat for some reason. But there she was, staring back at me with those emerald green eyes and pink lips. She was the most beautiful thing known to life. I lifted her up and held her close while she nibbled vehemently at my hair, my cheeks, even my nose. I inhaled her, that puppy smell that only a true blue dog lover could be in love with.
That was my first encounter with a gift of a lifetime- Sasha Nair Joshi.
The days, months and years that followed were a mixed bag of happiness, joy, sadness and grief, like they are in all families and she shared them all with us, being the perfect lady, always with her held high and reserved emotional expression. A complete anomaly to the other women in the family for sure. Right from sitting upright in the co-driver’s seat and balancing her bottom with surprising precision to always seeing the last guest out no matter what time it was, Sasha was always there, perfect and poised as ever.
13 years later, as I write this at 1AM unable to sleep, I realize we only have 10 hours left with her.
Tomorrow at 11, we’ll have resorted to euthanasia.
It’s been the toughest decision we as a family have ever made. Letting go of her, her touch, her blue blanket, her mattress, her sweatshirts, her jewellery. And all this, voluntarily. Every time she sits up or moves or even looks at any of us, it feels like maybe in some alternate universe this might mean there’s still some hope. But there isn’t.
There never is.
Those green eyes are just the same. When she looks up for a taste of sunshine through our windows when she’s lying down, not that she can do much else now. The puppy smell has crept back into her body mysteriously as if to tell me she’s still my baby no matter where she is. Watching her all day today knowing that it’ll be her last was excruciating. It probably hasn’t even sunk in.
I’m trying to expend all my latent emotional energy in rationalizing whether or not we’re taking everything away from her far too quickly. So what if her kidneys have failed? So what if her heart is enlarged? So what if she can barely walk and has stopped eating completely? So what? It was just about the time when these thoughts made a marked entry into my brain that my heart truly broke this morning. Maa tried to feed her Tandoori Chicken. Baby girl is part Sardarni, so its imaginable how much she loves anything that hails from the Pind. She looked at it longingly, kept smacking her lips like she normally does, but just couldn’t eat. She had no energy, her body had no will.
That’s when my heart she just fell into the number of pieces as the spots on her body. That’s when I realized she had to go to a place where she can eat all the Tandoori Chicken she ever wanted. Painlessly, joyfully, with loud burps and everything. That place was no longer here. Home was no longer her favourite couch.
“Beta, we’re lucky dogs have the option of euthanasia. We will all feel her loss. So will I. Afterall I’ll be losing my favourite, most efficient caddie.” In my father’s warm words, I realized I was not alone. We would get through this and we were doing what was best for her. It no longer feels like an execution, but a release for her into a better, happier and healthier place.
Sasha, we love you like you don’t even know. Our baby girl, my partner in crime, you’ve seen me jump with joy at my successes, you’ve seen me cry during my failures, you’ve been a part of every girly gossip session and you’ve seen a boy kiss me. Each one of which was a well guarded secret.
I can’t think of anyone else who’s done all of the above and still stuck around.
But in all this, true to form, in all ladylike propriety, you still leave us with the two things that make you the little wonder that you are:
Those green eyes and that puppy smell.