I see her growing more vague now. She’s nearly blind and at least partly deaf. (We don’t know how deaf; since she’s never listened to a thing I said in her entire life). She has progressed from giving other dogs the evil eye to trembling violently if she encounters one. She has her little routine with my mother and aunt and spends most of her time sleeping now. She needs some help in and out of the car.
It’s funny how a dog’s life can mark an era in a human’s. I got Shassi when I was 16 – an awkward, self-hating, undersocialized 16. Now I’m three months shy of my 30th birthday. Well, I’m a bit more socialized at least. During Shassi’s tenure, I graduated high school – back when it still meant something, left home, started The Misanthropic Shiba, graduated from college, joined the military, left the military and returned to Nanaimo.
Shassi, ever since she toddled into my life, has always been her own dog. At first, it was startling and almost offensive. Dogs were supposed to come when they were bloody well called, dammit! They were supposed to at least pretend some regard for you past the thirteen seconds that it took to ascertain that you hadn’t brought any meat or cheese home from the store. They weren’t supposed to be the catalyst for the most absurd events that cling to the memory of one’s growing up.
We got used to it, even to the point of dragging out the latest Shassi story whenever someone wanted to know if anything interesting had gone on in our lives. Shassi was the dog that everyone gravitated to, proving once again that people are attracted to beings that couldn’t care less if everyone around them lived or died. Kena and Buddi, the elder dogs of the pack, were perfectly happy being petted and made much of, and I daresay they got their fill. But Shassi was special. A dog unto herself.
I wish I was more like her. Not to the point where I say, “To hell with everyone!” and live only for my immediate gain. But to the point where I can forgive myself and think well of myself even if I’ve made mistakes or done something stupid or thoughtless or careless. The ability to take note of a situation, take the lessons to heart and move on is something that my dog possesses that I really wish I did.
But I’m only 29 and I have time. Shassi is nearly 14 and her sun is setting. I believe that she has a year or so left; perhaps even two or three. But it won’t be long, in the terms of a human lifespan.
Shassi, dog of my childhood, I love you. For your sake and the sake of all the dogs who I was privileged to share my life with, I wish – I hope – that there is a better beyond where we will meet again.