Susan's Sassy Sasha, CGC, CD, TT

Pictures from Sasha's 15th Birthday party (April 30, 2006)

Picture of Sasha relaxing Sasha is the love of our life. She is a registered miniature poodle. She was born April 30, 1991. She is black. With age she is starting to show that her lineage contained a lot of silvers.

When we first got Sasha we had no idea what we wanted to name her. We wanted a French sounding name to show the French origins of the breed. We also wanted to show some of the Russian and German working origins of poodles. We settled on Sasha as a cross between the two. We later learned that Sasha means "Defender of Mankind" which works very well. If you ever get a chance to meet Sasha, you will understand how Sassy is a very appropriate choice for her. Susan's was an obvious choice.

Sasha has probably taught me more about how to live through embarrassing moments than anything else in life could. She has repeatedly thought of new ways to create havoc and she always makes sure she does it front of just the right people. She has a wicked sense of humor.

When she was a puppy she and I lived in a small one bedroom apartment with Ariel. Very seldom did I invite visitors. On one memorable occasion I unsuspectingly invited a male neighbor in for a minute as I was arriving home from work. Sasha had been in the bathroom trash. She had strewn very embarrassing trash every where after obviously playing with it. I thought I would die. I actually hit the neighbor in the face with the door I slammed it so fast. To this day I really don't know how much he saw and I never asked.

Then there was our performance at the Poodle National Specialty Show. We live in Florida. Most dog shows here are indoors in air conditioning or outdoors in the cooler monthes. When we went to the National Specialty it was held outdoors in Pennsylvania. To most Floridians it is relatively cool up that far north even in summer.

We were not expecting temperatures exceeding those in Florida. With the heat index making the temperature even greater. Sasha was the last dog in Open A. That meant she would be in direct sunlight for at least 20 minutes and quite possibly longer. She would cook. We were cooking in the shade of the tent.

Not wanting her to suffer I wet her down. No one had ever told me not to wet the whole dog. It had never come up in indoor shows. Confidently we walked into the ring. The judge took my leash, measured Sasha, asked if we were ready, and of course I replied "Yes."

"Forward", she said. Before my foot could even complete that first step, Sasha was off. She flew to the center of the ring. She rolled. She wiggled. She leaped. She crawled. She did the side stroke in the grass. Beet red I continued forward.

The judge said "Halt". I halted. I waited. I prayed for anything to save me from this. I hoped the judge would say "You're excused." No such luck. She simply looked at me as if to say "Well call your dog." There was no point she would not have come. She was drying herself. I waited for the judge to have me finish the exercise by myself.

After an eternity Sasha calmly walked over. She swung into heel position. We were instructed to continue the exercise. "Great," I thought, "why can't she just excuse me." Surprisingly enough Sasha did everything else when she was asked. She did look like a leaping deer during the "fast". I can certainly say that she did each exercise joyfully, willingly, and with great enthusiasm after we got going.

The true highlight of the Specialty was yet to come. After I left the ring people kept coming up to me. They told me how boring the show had been until I went in the ring. The congratulated me on really livening it up. Several people thought I was entertainment portion. They seemed to think I had actually taught Sasha to act like that.

Since then Sasha has learned to work soaking wet. She practices after every bath before she gets to dry off. I don't wet her before shows any more but if I ever do she is ready.

When I got Sasha I decided that she would be my practice dog. I would use her to learn about showing and training in as many aspects as possible. She has become more than just a practice dog. She has become a member of our family.

Sasha taught me how to groom for the conformation ring. Together we learned how to stack a poodle. We learned how to gait and bait. We learned the joy of winning and I learned the sadness of losing. Sasha was happy doing both. After winning her first Best of Group, she retired.

Her topknot was cut off and she was spayed. Her show career was not over however. She had been also showing in obedience. We can still be found in obedience rings. Also added to her education and mine was agility and tracking.

Since she was a puppy Sasha has been performing tricks for anyone who would watch her. With a little work she has learned to perform them on cue. Sasha is quite a ham when she is performing. She works for me but she is also working to receive laughter and clapping. During an exhibition in our local mall this fact was brought home when she was volunteered to run scent hurdles.

Neither Sasha nor I had ever participated before but a 8th dog was needed to complete the teams. Sasha loves to jump, she has never had any problems with scent articles or retrieving so she became a team member. During the first demo she skipped one of the six jumps. Her audience laughed. She was corrected but no one laughed when she did it properly. By the end of the weekend she would run up to each hurdle, side step around it and run to the next hurdle only to side step again. She did love being the comedy act and making people happy.

Being a socialite stands her in good stead when she visits one of our local nursing homes. Sasha loves to visit with all of the residents.

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Susan Ann Tipton, Gainesville, Florida, USA / furrykids @t