Pet Connections

Butterfly Ears

Sue Rosati

We first met Sassy one Christmas Eve, when we gathered with the family to celebrate the holiday.  She was owned by my brother’s sister-in-law, Mary, who had recently become widowed with two small children.  Mary adopted the two month old beagle mix in an attempt to fill a void for her seven year old son and four year old daughter.

My husband Dave had noticed the bouncy, little ball of fur as she climbed on the sofa, trying to get everyone’s attention. 

“Isn’t she adorable?” Dave remarked as he tried with no success to hold her. “Look at those ears.”

Sassy was Beagle and Papillion.  We were told that Papillion was French for butterfly.  Her mother was Beagle and the father a pure white Papillion named Gizmo. Dave and I saw both breeds in this friendly little canine; her color was white with some brown.  Sassy was soft and cuddly, and her furry tail wagged back and forth with excitement in the event of meeting new people.  However, it was the beagle’s long, brown, and floppy, yet butterfly ears that was her biggest attraction. 

We played with Sassy for most of the evening, until it was time for Mary to put the puppy into the crate that was bought the night Sassy was adopted.

“Wouldn’t it be neat to have a dog like Sassy?” Dave asked, smiling at the mention of her name.  We did nothing but talk about that little ball of fur while driving home that night.

After the holidays were over, Dave and I made it a priority to do some doggie shopping.  We stopped at the Humane Society.  There were so many adorable puppies.  I even held a few shaggy little critters that were so affectionate.  One of them actually fell asleep in my arms.  We were both impressed, however, we both knew in our hearts, that there was something missing, something we saw in no other dog, except Sassy.

We tried to find out if there were any puppies left from Sassy’s litter, and to add to our disappointment, there were none.

“Maybe we’re trying too hard,” Dave said to me one evening.  “Maybe we should just take a break.  Who knows, maybe there’s a dog out there that will come to us.”

We knew that Sassy belonged to someone else, and thinking she would become ours was just wishful thinking.  I hated to admit it, but I realized that Dave might be right.

It was mid May that same year when we received the phone call that proved that some wishes do come true.  Mary’s father had become ill, and it was difficult for her to keep up with her job, taking care of her children and a little puppy.  She asked us if we would consider adopting Sassy.

Two weeks later we drove to Mary’s house to pick up the new member of our family.  She was a bit shy at first, but in a few days she became adjusted to her new home.

We took her for walks, and soon the whole neighborhood became acquainted with Sassy.  She became the social butterfly on  our street..

I was off work for a few weeks and was trying to start a routine with Sassy.  At 7 a.m., I would let Sassy out of her crate, feed her and walk her around the street.  It was on a beautiful sunny morning that I put food into her bowl and while she ate, I put on my tennis shoes and threw a light jacket in preparation for a long walk.

To this day, I still wonder how this happened, but before I put the leash on Sassy, not thinking, I opened the sliding glass door to the patio, and before I could blink an eye there was Sassy making a dash to the outside.  I tried to grab her by the tail, but my hands weren’t quick enough.  My puppy was already out of our not fenced in yard.

I chased her down our street, screaming her name.  Our street is relatively quiet, the cars usually climb up our hill at a slow pace, but my concern was to stop Sassy before she left our street and ran onto the next road, a busy road with cars going anywhere between 35 and 45 mph.  

I tried to chase her, but the closer I was to Sassy, the closer she moved to the busy and car congested road.  I stopped and there she was, playing, with a few more steps taking her to instant death.  I froze at the sight of the cars racing up and down the highway.  If I moved toward her, she would run away from me into the highway, but I couldn’t just stand there.

I began to cry out, “Dear God, please help me.  Get her away from there.”  I sobbed until I noticed Sassy looking up the hill, behind me.

Quickly the little white ball of fur scampered up the hill, away from the highway.  I saw two teenagers walking to the bus stop and cried out to them, “please stop her.”  The one teenager snapped her fingers, calling Sassy, and Sassy responded, running right to the girl.  I quickly ran over, scooped my puppy into my arms, hugging her while she licked my face.

Dave and I began to relax more and enjoy our beautiful pet.  So many who met her would just love her butterfly ears.  The people who would see us knew her name before they knew ours.

We always felt  that someone was watching over Sassy, and knew that there was something so special about this beagle mix.  

In the fourteen years that she was ours, we watched our precious puppy come through some rough times.  She survived a vicious attack with a pit bull.  There were health issues, but as our veterinarian would put it, she beat the odds, as if she had nine lives.

I was the one who worried the most about our pet, but Dave would always assure me that she would be fine.

“When Sassy stops eating, then we worry.” he would say, referring to the way our beloved pet could eat from her bowl at least twelve hours a day.  Even as a senior dog, Sassy could inhale anything we gave her.

It was a sunny April day, that my fears became a reality.  I took Sassy for our mid afternoon walk to the park.  She loved the park; she loved the people, especially the people who gave her treats and hugs.  This particular walk wasn’t much different from any of the other walks, except that she began to take deeper breaths than usual.

“It’s unseasonably hot for this time of the year,” Dave tried relieve my mind once again.  “She’ll drink some water and she’ll be fine.”

I wanted to believe that.  I kept thinking and hoping he was right.  After all, Sassy still continued to eat whatever we put in her bowl.

The worrying came back to me a few days later when after taking her for a walk, I noticed she hardly touched her food. 

There was a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Our veterinarian had ordered some tests and blood work, and after taking one look at her face that horrible feeling grew worse. She sat down with me and sadly told me the news that I had feared for some time.

The next day we had to put our Sassy to sleep.  They had wrapped her in a pink blanket.  Tearfully, Dave and I stroked her head and said goodbye to our precious little friend.

She was at peace and with her butterfly ears pulled back, we saw a smile on her face, as if she was telling us she was o.k.

We were saddened by losing our pride and joy, yet we knew that fourteen years with Sassy gave us more joy than we ever imagined.

We will adopt another pet again; we have a lot of love to give another dog, but we will never forget the beauty, the love, and the laughs we had with that sweet little dog with the butterfly ears.

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