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Sasha the husky eases into the role of therapy dog

October 8, 2008 |  4:59 pm

Wednesday, Times staff writer Jerry Hirsch continues his chronicle of Sasha, a husky he encountered on a street in downtown Los Angeles. Hirsch brought Sasha home, only to discover she liked to wander -- and that healthcare for animals who like to roam is expensive. Look for periodic updates on Sasha in the weeks to come on L.A. Unleashed.

Sasha_and_roni_2Sasha the stray is still with us, despite an almost super-canine ability to escape through fences and metal crates and her giant house trashing panic attack.

Perhaps only the piercing blue eyes of this husky would tell you she is the same delirious, diseased animal I found wandering on Spring Street more than a month ago. The eyes still penetrate into your soul, seemingly questioning if you are friend or foe. Cleaned of fleas and feces and brushed, her coat is snow white cashmere. People stare at her beauty.

Sasha (above left) has become an impromptu, but patient and loving therapy dog, tagging along on visits to a senior living center in Seal Beach. The residents gravitate to Sasha, stroke her and talk about the dogs that once gave them joy in their lives. There’s one lady who dashes -– as best you can with a walker-– to get snapshots of her son’s dogs and compares them with Sasha.

Sasha will be spayed next week and will be ready for adoption when she recovers. At one point I was ready to haul Sasha to the pound to whatever fate would await her. Now I’m not sure if I can give her up. (And I am pretty sure Jennifer couldn’t do it.) Yet as my thinking changes, I wonder if I will ever truly trust this dog. Could we ever leave her alone in the house without coming home to damage? Will walking three to five miles a day really be enough, or will she require more work than I am prepared to provide?

Sasha appears to be 18 months old. If she is to stay we are going to have to reach some common ground between dog and human. Roni, our hyper Labrador Retriever (above right) will never be perfect, and I know how she will misbehave -- snatch food from the table, steal a shoe or great a visitor with a slobbery kiss on the lips. But I also know that she will always play catch and tug with a rope and then lie down next to me when I watch a football game. I don't know what to expect with Sasha. Like her past, Sasha remains a mystery.

Want to read past posts on Sasha? Click on Part one, Part two, Part three or Part four.

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