Friday, July 10, 2015

4 years with Asha

4 years ago today we brought a new little puppy into our lives. She was 5 months old, deaf and blind. Her name was Pinky. We renamed her Asha, which is Sanskrit for hope and life. There is much irony in this name. For quite some time she took away all my hope and made my life feel unmanageable. Over the years, things have changed. She tore us down and built us up. Raising Asha has been like putting a puzzle together in the dark. As time has passed, the lights have brightened and life has become much more clear.

This year with Asha has been difficult, like all the other years before, but for different reasons. Asha's "usual" challenges were overshadowed by an unexpected illness. We never saw this one coming. Last year at this time I was lamenting our lives with Asha; all we had been through, all we have overcome. Then , on July 21st, Asha went into the ER with trouble breathing and didn't come out for 5 days. We spent every second fighting for her life. HERE is my blog post about that.

I always expected that Asha wouldn't live as long of a life as the others, that with her genetic issues, her life would be shortened. I did not expect it would be so shortened that she wouldn't make it to her 4th birthday. It has been a long haul, but I believe she has totally recovered from her illness and while I still watch for signs that she is having any trouble breathing, we are back to normal..well, as normal as Asha gets.

This year brought lots of changes for our family. In February we moved from Vancouver, Washington to Akron, Ohio. We drove 2500 miles with all our animals. Everyone did great, even Asha. She is so trusting, I often can't believe it. She rode in the car for hours each day, stayed in a different hotel room each night and didn't seem to mind much at all. Just like the others - as long as she is with us, she is happy. (I owe a blog post of the moving process...)

We arrived at our new home and got settled. Everyone wanted to know how Asha was doing in a new place - was she adapting? Asha always adapts. always. The first few weeks she was angry because we had lots of people coming and going, doing work on the house. She wasn't able to spend time with all of them and that made her mad. So she barked a lot and peed in the house as an act of defiance. Once that activity stopped, she settled into a good routine. She still paces and barks, just like she did in our old house. She has her path through the yard that she travels each day. She has her spots that she likes the lay - the places I always find her when I come home. Some night she sleeps in bed with us, some nights she sleeps on the floor. Most nights she sleeps all night and that is something we have been waiting 4 years to say!

Asha's life is so routine driven. You can set your clock by her. She knows when it is time to get up, when it is time to eat. She knows when I am getting ready to leave and starts to look for her treats (I "hide" treats in the kitchen for her when I am leaving). She knows that putting on her nice grey collar and her pink harness means we are going somewhere. She knows everything there is to know around here.

When we decided to move, I was most worried about the animals, specifically Asha and the effort it would take to rebuild our team. Asha has a regular vet, a behavioral vet, a critical care staff, a Chinese medicine vet and reliable petsitters. It took us three years to build that and I was so worried about rebuilding it. Then I realized that the Universe provides. We have found a great vet, an excellent behavioral vet and a great petsitter. We are working on the Chinese medicine vet and hoping that we don't ever need the critical care staff, but have made contact with one close to us, just in case. While I am comforted by all these people and Asha likes them very much, I still long for those who have gotten us this far. Having to tell our story from the beginning is overwhelming. Walking into a vet's office for the first time and presenting Asha and her stack of records is a little intimidating. When we meet someone new, we always try to tell them how special Asha is and the words never do her justice. Time usually takes care of that and they soon realize for themselves just how special our Sissy is to this world. And they fall in love with her...of course, they fall in love with her.

The hardest part about moving was saying goodbye to our team. We still keep in touch with them all, for advice and just for their friendship. They are a part of our story and this crazy journey and so we are never really that far away.

I have always known how lucky we are to have Asha, but this year has really solidified that feeling. Every day I tell her how much I love her and how much she means to me. Even though she can't hear me, I know she understands. There is nothing quite like having her sit next to me and lean into my body. She's been doing that since the first day I met her in a big empty room at the Oregon Humane Society and I expect she'll do that until her last breath, which I hope doesn't come for many more years.

So here is to another year with Asha. Another year to live and love and learn. I say it often and it will always be true - Asha is my soul, living outside my body and I am totally and completely in awe of what she does to my world. Happy Anniversary sweet one. We couldn't love you more.

Here are the blog posts from Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3.