The Pawgress Report: Sasha the southern belle

(Photo courtesy of Stephanie Bennett.)

Introducing Sasha, freshman Stephanie Bennett’s big-hearted German shepherd.

Just before Sasha’s arrival in June 2015, Bennett had spent a few weeks redecorating her room. This process included fresh paint, new furniture and to top it all off, a strikingly beautiful comforter.

“I remember the first day Sasha came home. She was a little puppy that could fit in the palm of your hand,” said Bennett.

At first, Sasha was grumpy about having to stay in her crate at night, so she’d often bark, howl and cry into the night.

Bennett couldn’t deal with the “heartbreaking” cries anymore, so she took action.

“I hated hearing my brand-new family member all alone in the kitchen … so I brought her to stay with me for the night,” said Bennett.

Knowing she wasn’t yet house-trained, Bennett anticipated Sasha may have a little accident – so she laid down a towel to be safe.

Yet, despite her worries, everything was OK!

Fast forward 30 minutes and…

“Sasha had quite the explosion,” said Bennett.

While the once pristine comforter quite literally ended up with the butt end of the deal, the Bennetts took comfort in finding out that a chicken allergy was the reason for Sasha’s distress.

After living with the Bennetts for a while, Sasha developed a newfound love of visiting her local dog park, the “Outback,” one or two times a week.

One summer day at the park, Sasha stumbled upon a massive branch that she deemed the perfect size to play fetch with.

“As I am throwing this ungodly sized stick for her to catch, I think about how Sasha has never swum. So, I throw the stick into the lake, hoping she’d chase after it,” said Bennett.

Just like that, Sasha took off, sprinting at full speed, intent on catching up to the stick that soared overhead. Then, Sasha took notice of the water before her and came to a screeching halt mere inches before the intimidating lake.

“I knew I had to help her conquer her fear,” Bennett said.

Bennett’s persistence paid off and after throwing the stick progressively farther and farther out into the water, Sasha gradually waded in completely and began retrieving the floating branch with ease.

Aside from learning to swim, Sasha has picked up a fair share of tricks including sit, lie down and play dead. “We have a cookie jar at home and if someone even mentions the word ‘cookie,’ she’ll fly to the jar,” said Bennett.

Sasha knows the order of her tricks by heart, so if you ask her, “What are you going to do for a cookie?” Sasha will sit, then plop down on all fours before sliding into a motionless pile of cuteness, until she knows she’s earned her cookie.

Despite being hundreds of miles away from Sasha and her Chihuahua Daisy while at school, they are always on her mind.

“I miss everything about my dogs when I am at school,” said Bennett. “I think the worst part is when my mom sends me funny videos of my dogs and I’m stuck writing a paper wishing I could be there – it does not help academic motivation!”