The Tzarina

I’d had Brooklyn for a little more than half a year and had been thinking about getting him a “friend” to run around the yard with, so he’d have company while I was working. I hadn’t yet made up my mind when our animal control officer picked up a small, underfed pit bull puppy. She was adorable. Brindle. Collared but not chipped or tagged. I immediately fell in love and wanted to take her home.

Standard practice is a waiting period so that her owners could come forward and claim her, but my friend was going to go around that so I wouldn’t have to pay adoption fees. He just wanted to make sure she was healthy first before I took her because I had other animals already. When I talked to him later, it was bad news. The little puppy was in quarantine because they feared she might have parvo. I kept calling the shelter to check on her, to see how she was doing or if her last owners had come for her.

They hadn’t. About a week after meeting her, she was cleared from quarantine with a clean bill of health, so I filled out papers to adopt her; she then was chipped, spayed, and vaccinated. I named her Aleksandra (the Russian spelling…but Sasha for short) and took her home. She bonded to me very quickly, which worked to my advantage when introducing her to Brooklyn for the first time. I hooked her leash onto the front door and had Brooklyn on his leash beside me. He and I would walk into the living room, leaving as soon as Sasha started barking and then would only come back into the room when she calmed down. A couple rounds of that and she no longer barked at Brooklyn.

The first couple nights she slept with me on the couch, my thinking that if she moved because she needed to potty, I would wake up and take her out. I couldn’t just send her into the back yard because she was so small she could walk right through the bars of the gate. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that. She’s 70 lbs now and still thinks that she belongs snuggled on me if I’m lying on the couch.

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When she got a little older, I taught her how to balance a milkbone on her nose, which I’d taught Brooklyn a few months prior. The cue to eat the biscuit is “has cookie!” Sasha started catching it her second time, as opposed to her brother’s way of just letting it drop to the floor then eating the shattered pieces.

As Sasha started getting bigger, Brooklyn showed her all the fun things to chew on…the dog house…the throw pillow on the couch….the palm tree in the back yard. When we moved here that tables were turned as Sasha decided that grass was a fun thing to eat, which then had Brooklyn deciding to do it too.

There’s not a dog toy in the house that goes anywhere without her permission, and she reminds Brooklyn daily that she doesn’t share. Sometimes I’m not sure if she’s more a spoiled toddler, or if my friend Bob got it right when he called her the “Tzarina.”

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