There can be happiness after loss

Liz Stephens, Columnist

In November my dog, a Husky and Border Collie mix named Ramona, died from a 4-year-long battle with cancer.

Ramona was an 80-pound fighter. She tried pretending up until her very last day that she was not in pain, even though she could no longer walk or jump into the car because of a tumor that was growing on an internal organ.

My family did not handle it well.  My step-dad took her death worse than he did the death of his parents.

I mourned for a week or so. Then, the loneliness of not having a dog to snuggle and hang out with set in. I realized that while I was sharing pictures of dogs that were currently at the Coles County Animal Shelter, I wanted a dog exactly like Ramona.

I feared that dogs different from her would lack the personality and temperament of Ramona if they were not a similar breed, so I decided to stand firm and wait for the right dog to come along.

On Tuesday night, my mom tagged me in the animal shelter’s post about a black German Shepard named Sasha. She looked almost identical to Ramona, but she did not have the white spot on her chest or white-spotted sock paws like Ramona did.

My sister Sara and I fell in love with her, but we worried that my stepfather, Phil, would not be ready for another dog and tell us no.

I woke up Wednesday morning and told Phil that Ramona’s twin was at the animal shelter and I wanted to go see her and possibly adopt her. I showed him pictures, and he was sold on getting her.

It melted my heart when he said “I would gladly take another Ramona.”

With absolutely no shame, I skipped my class to go see Sasha and ended up adopting her.

Her previous owner, from what we were told by the workers at the animal shelter, had gone to jail and did not come within the allotted 7-day period to get Sasha back and lost their rights to her.

The last owner let her get a severe flea infestation, to the point that Sasha has a bald spot on her lower back that needs to re-grow from her biting the fleas. She was treated at the animal shelter for them, but I do not see how an owner who took care of their dog could let it get that severe.

The staff members at the animal shelter were extremely supportive and made it beyond easy to take Sasha home that day. Granted, my mom and Phil both knew some of the staff, so it was a lot easier and less complicated than I had expected.

Since being home, Sasha has blossomed into a smiley and happy dog that loves naps in front of the French doors in the kitchen. In honor of Ramona, I have decided to take Sasha with me to more places, take more pictures of her and spoil her even more than I spoiled Ramona.  This may be a new start for Sasha, but for me it is just awesome to know she is happy and healthy with a good home.

Liz Stephens is a junior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].