For a long time I have been wanting to tell this story to the world, so when The Edge sent out an e-mail inviting people to write a story about how dogs touch our soul, I realized the time had come.
During my youth, our family had many cats and dogs, and although I had never feared dogs, I was more of a cat person. As the years went by and I moved on to college and career, I still felt more drawn to the soft furry, relatively quiet beings that are much easier to care for.
Another factor was my experience at the home of a friend who had a dog. I wound up leaving with an allergic reaction, such as hives or asthma. That led me to the misguided mantra, “I don’t like dogs; I’m allergic to dogs.” In addition, I walk most everywhere I go, and on occasion I would be startled out of my reverie by a raucous dog barking at me from its yard. That was annoying to me.
Another factor in our story is that for so many years of my life I felt alone and isolated — very unhappy. It wasn’t a constant thing, but it happened a lot. At times I felt that my life had little purpose. There were challenges and situations that left me feeling vulnerable and unattractive. And there were times when others (whether intentional or not) said and did things that supported those damaging beliefs.
So with that behind me, here comes the good part.
My sister was moving to town and needed a place to stay for a while, so I invited her to come and stay with me. I had plenty of room and a fenced-in back yard. That was perfect, because she had a beautiful 1-year-old Siberian Husky. I just loved him. Even though I broke out in hives, I could not resist spending time with him — and I loved walking him. I found that if I washed my arms and hands, the hives would go away. It is amazing what we will do for love.
Then I learned that a friend of a friend had a female Husky, so I thought it would be fun to introduce them.
That’s when I met Sasha.
She was inside her fence with her paws up on the top and she looked at us with the most beautiful sky blue eyes I have ever seen! The sun shone on her beautiful golden red fur and that glorious fluffy tail flagged down my heart! That person who didn’t think she liked dogs soon evolved into a love-happy convert.
Even though I knew little about dogs, I decided that it would be fun to walk the two dogs together: a couple of sled dogs, how beautiful. Our walks put a smile on my face that went down to the bone. Sometimes our antics would amuse the neighbors, because one dog wanted to go one way and the other another way, but I didn’t care. I was having fun.
The Walk Lady
Sometimes I would go and get Sasha and walk her alone and bring her over to my house. To her, I was “The Walk Lady” and our time together was really starting to become healing medicine for me. I noticed that instead of hearing insults hurled at me over my unique appearance, people were commenting on how beautiful the dogs were. Nothing like a pair of Huskies to strengthen your sense of well-being. That icy wall around my heart had started to melt.
Then one day, Sasha’s owner called and told me that since her dog and I seem to get along so well, I was welcome to adopt her. I never really had a dog of my own to care for, so I had to give it some thought. I also had a beautiful cat and I wanted to make sure they were not going to kill each other. I went over and told Sasha that it might be rough going at first, but I would love to have her. So at the young and tender age of 45, I adopted a 7-year-old Siberian Husky.
My cat really howled and rebelled for a while, but one day I came home and saw them lying on the couch together. It brings a smile to my face just thinking of it.
Eventually my sister and her beautiful boy moved out, so it was just the three of us. I adored Sasha and she loved me back. I felt honored, as if someone had taken a beautiful and precious part of myself and put it into my care. I could have gazed into those beautiful blue eyes forever. She seemed to touch my heart all the way to my soul.
My beautiful shadow
We walked every day. She was my beautiful shadow who followed me everywhere. She sat beside me when I worked on something. She had such a calming and joyful presence.
She plucked a very hurt, scared, angry child from my being and allowed that little girl to become a joyful soft, loving child with love to share. A person who often felt alone and unwelcome in this world now had a purpose and a reason to laugh — and most of all, to live. I came to know that sweet glowing light that starts in the heart and surrounds your entire being.
Much as they may try, I don’t know if a human could have reached into my heart the way that my Sasha did. She worked some kind of Divine magic for me and activated a Light from within. Oh, I was a love-struck fool for her, but what a happy fool I was — and still am.
The changes in my life are still present today, even though my Sasha became an angel years ago. Just thinking of her now, I feel that love in my heart and the smile on my face as if she is still with me.
Shortly after she ran with the Golden Pack, I wrote this poem:
There’s a hole in my life where the dog used to be
It’s as vast as the sky, it’s as deep as the sea.
But across this great void lies a ribbon of gold
And together forever our hearts shall it hold.