A year with Princess Sassafras

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk

One year ago yesterday Princess Sassafras, a.k.a. Sassy, spent her first night as our new puppy.

She has grown from the three-pound tiny, shivering puppy to an 11-pound feisty puppy that totally has us wrapped around her paws.

It took us more than a year after our sweet Lexi died at 15 years old to decide we wanted another dog. Sassy’s story captured us, as she was a rescue from a lady who wanted to be a “breeder” but ended up with too many puppies of too many mixed breeds that no one wanted to pay money to take home. Neglect and overcrowding followed, and rescue groups were called.

Sassy and her two brothers were supposed to be a mix of Chihuahua and Shih Tzu. Lexi was a Yorkie and Chihuahua mix, so we thought that sounded good. Like Yorkies, Shih Tzus don’t shed, which we really wanted.

Sassy, one year ago

Sassy today

You don’t always get what you want! If there’s any Shih Tzus in Sassy, it’s just a drop or two. She sheds like crazy. She’s long and has longer legs than any Chihuahua I have ever seen. And she is the fastest running dog around.

On the internet, I found a Taco Terrier, which is a mix of a fox terrier and a Chihuahua that looks just like our Sassy. So, who knows?

It’s all curiosity anyway. We are completely in love with this little Sassafras. She loves children, loves other dogs, loves visitors, loves attention, loves to go outside (but not always loves to come back in), likes car rides and almost shakes her tail and whole body into a frenzy when she realizes we are on the way to the dog park. She will snuggle with you in your lap for a while, slowly sneak her way up until she is at your neck/hairline, and you are having to hold her like a baby. Then she falls asleep in your arms.

You will be covered in hair when you put her down, but, somehow, that’s okay!

At night, she isn’t content to just sleep near me, she has to sleep either right on top of my chest or, if I’m on my side, next to my leg. And she sleeps the whole night completely and totally under the blankets. Not sure how she breathes…

Thanks to an incredible couple who house/dog sit for us, Sassy doesn’t get stressed when Neville and I travel. They are her second parents, and she may like them more than us now that they have a precious toy poodle named Frank. Sassy and Frank are the absolute best of friends, and they wear themselves out running through the house chasing each other.

It wasn’t an easy decision to get another dog. Lexi was so special to us in so many ways. We all fit together, and we loved her so much.

Sassy, however, made us her forever family quickly. It has been fun to watch her grow and learn. I have had really smart dogs and really dumb dogs, and I loved them all. For a while, we thought Sassy wasn’t going to be the smartest dog around, and we still haven’t found exactly what motivates her to do what you want her to (not treats, not praise but she does hate for us to fuss at her.)

Yesterday, however, as we finished packing suitcases and loading the car for my business trip, Sassy seemed to understand that something was up. We kept talking to her, telling her Hannah was coming to stay with her, and she would have Frank to play with while we were gone.

As we kept loading, I looked around, and Sassy had found all her toys and carried them inside her crate. Looks like Frank will have to ask if she wants to share!

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.

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