Sansa was my introduction to the world of dogs and led me to have very high expectations for doggy behaviour.

Stewart had moved into my flat with Dusty and as we were both full-time students we felt it might be nice if he had an old doggy friend. Dusty himself was around 16 at the time and despite two vestibular episodes was in fine health.

We bundled Dusty into the boot of the car and headed to the Dogs trust and pretty much asked them to show us all the old dogs that no one else wanted. A white alsatian was the one I noticed first of all but we were informed he couldn’t be rehomed to a flat on account of his hips. I was advised to have a look at the dog in the same kennel space so I left Dusty with Stewart to go and do just that.

In the kennel was a scruffy black & tan mongrel who was pointedly sitting in the middle of the kennel space with her back to the viewing window. It was then I realised that Sansa was anti-social dog and would probably get on well with an anti-social human, we asked the staff if we could let her meet Dusty.

The meeting could have gone a bit better, we were permitted to let them have some time off-lead together in a room after initial on-lead intros had gone well. Sansa barked which made Dusty collapse in fright but he soon began tentatively following her while wagging his tail. We took the pair around the Dogs Trust enclosed paddock and, given all seemed well, arranged to pick Sansa up a few days later.

Sansa had a very large firm mass on one shoulder and this was causing staff at the Dogs Trust some concern. They were waiting for blood tests to come back to indicate whether it was cancer but they were convinced it was a lipoma (fatty lump). As Sansa was past the age whereby she could be insured she was given to us on the Dogs Trust shared adoption scheme.

Sansa came home on Saturday the 10th March 2012. First thing she did was hoover up the remainder of Dusty’s breakfast then immediately jumped up to see if there was anything interesting on the kitchen counters. She then tried to play with Dusty who was completely baffled by her attentions, she soon got bored with him and plonked herself down by my couch to demand pats. Sansa was never keen on sharing toys with Dusty.

After a month or two we realised that the growth on her shoulder was growing so we took her in to our own vet. A sample from a fine needle suggested the growth was a fatty lump. The first vet we spoke to advised us to leave the lump alone, that there may not be enough skin to cover the wound and she could spend many months recovering from such an operation when she might only have a year or two left in her. Not being particularly impressed with this we decided to see the practice manager who said that the benefits of having the growth removed would outweigh the risk especially given it was already impacting on her life (she was grouchy, couldn’t really run as it pulled on her skin and found it hard to lie down comfortably).

The op to remove the growth was 100% successful but the result was rather gross. instead of taking months to heal Sansa was markedly better the following day.

In May 2013 we sadly had to have Dusty put to sleep after he’d had his 4th vestibular episode. He was 18 at the time, Stewart had had him for 9 years and Sansa was on her own.

She coped very well being the only dog in the house, indeed I think by the time Dusty passed away he was so hopelessly unable to interact with other dogs properly that Sansa had given up trying. In August 2013 we adopted Jake whom Sansa picked for us at the dogs trust again. Jake had been living with the same family for 9 years but his owner had to move into sheltered accommodation and couldn’t take Jake with him. Jake had previously lived with another older dog and a cat so he seemed like a good choice.

Sansa took to him straight away, he was extremely stressed at being in kennels but he was very good with Sansa who was never keen on full on “in your face” dogs. We were told by the Dogs Trust that she got on well with other dogs, what we actually found to be the case was that she got on well with handsome male dogs (alsatians, huskies & collies).

Sansa had numerous adventures in her 2 years with us. She came with us on holiday to Perthshire, Fortrose and Canonbie, enjoyed playing at the beach and especially enjoyed hillwalking when there was a chance of snow. Sansa was an extremely intelligent, obedient dog though her face visibly fell if she was made to suffer cuddles. She enjoyed meeting friends and family that came to the flat but would flat-out ignore strangers that tried to speak to her outside.

I won’t write about her last month or so, after a year I still find it extremely upsetting. Sansa developed a tumor in her neck which was located on a major blood vessel and put pressure on her airways. De-bulking treatment was largely unsuccessful though it did buy us a few extra weeks that we wouldn’t have had otherwise and we did our very best to spoil her rotten.

I always knew we wouldn’t have Sansa for years and years given she was 12 when we got her. We did our best to make those years as enjoyable as possible for her and we’re so grateful to the Dogs Trust for taking her in when she was old and had a medical problem. Overall we like to think that she was a lucky dog, and we were very lucky to have her.