She ran up the hill for the last time. Her hips were giving her some trouble, nothing a baby aspirin wouldn’t help. She’d been our constant companion for fourteen years. Wherever we were on the farm Sassy wasn’t far behind. She grew up with our boys, ran along as they learned to ride bikes, fished in the pond and raced their go-cart around the fields.
The boys would get mad at her when they went fishing because she loved to swim in circles around their bobbers waiting for fish. She didn’t understand that she was a fish deterrent. Eventually the idea caught on that they were displeased with her, she’d swim back to shore, chasing frogs instead.
Every new life on this farm was welcomed first by Sassy. It didn’t matter if they were chicks, calves, lambs, goats, piglets, or a foal. She was the first to greet them, sometimes even before their own mother. When the cows calved Sassy would watch over them, too. She’d sit on the hill and scan the horizon. From her lookout post she could oversee the farm. She knew where every animal was and where they belonged. If the sheep wandered to close to the garden she’d bark and chase them off. She kept them from creeping under the fence and eating the apple trees. She kept wandering piglets from stealing eggs out of the nesting boxes. Sassy was proud and well mannered. She kept all the other dogs in line and corrected them if they broke any of the rules. Chasing a chicken was unacceptable to Sassy’s code of conduct. When Miley was new here Sassy caught her chasing a young chick. She pinned Miley down. Miley, showing her belly, quickly learned the rules. When a stray cat had kittens in our barn Sassy watched over them while their mom was away. She’d clean them, allow them to climb on her and when the cat returned Sassy would leave the barn. She respected her place.
She loved to be warm. When we’d burn each spring she’d lay in the smoldering grass, twice she’d caught on fire. Once it was the end of her tail and another time it was her rear end. She sat on the burning embers and Keith had to extinguish her with water. It didn’t phase her, she just found another hot spot to lay on. She also loved the warmth of our wood burning stove, she’d sleep close, soaking up the heat.
We’re all going to miss her. I think Keith will miss her most of all. He hasn’t built a fence, moved cows, or fixed equipment without Sassy’s help. She rode with him to check waterers and walked miles and miles checking fences over the years. Sassy loved to run alongside our Willy’s jeep. When she was too old to run alongside, Keith would lift her in, she discovered the joy of riding shotgun.
It was apparent that she was slowing down, her weight was dropping and her hearing was about gone. One morning she woke up and couldn’t move. We figured she’d had a stroke, the vet confirmed it. Saying goodbye was heartbreaking, the boy’s said goodbye, dug her grave, and buried her on the hilltop overlooking the farm. She was a wonderful friend and a great dog.