All this talk of disturbed pets reminds me of my family's second dog, a spritely English Setter puppy that I named Sassafras, or Sassy for short. Our first dog, an adorable black and white Cocker Spaniel named Katie lived until 15, but she faded slowly, so her death was somewhat of a relief, and I was ready to start fresh.
Sassy's name turned out to be quite fitting, as her spirited nature often got the best of her. She'd go from a lapwarmer to a blur, a circular torrent of energy, tearing around the coffee table unprovoked for minutes at a time. Her behavioral quirks just made me love her more, perhaps because I could relate <grin>. Sassy and I were quite a pair.
We got Sassafras at the beginning of the summer right after my freshman year of college, and after living with her for only three months, I felt an oddly intense connection. Which is why that phone call to my dorm room in the fall still stirs emotions as I sit and type, eight years later. Sassy had been too sassy for her own good. She had sassed a passing van.
My mom called to explain what had happened. When she wasn't looking, Sassy ran out of the yard and dove under the wheel of a van driving by. The driver stopped and helped my mom carry the dog's limp body inside. I don't know how she held herself together. On the phone, my mom apologized to me, a ludicrous and heartbreaking gesture. "I'm sorry," she cried. "You guys were pals."
I couldn't bear it. We cried together on the phone, and before hanging up, I tearfully said something I had not said in literally a decade. I said, "I love you, Mom."
Drugs, if they would have helped, were too late for Sassy. But they had already done wonders for me.