Tuesday, December 10, 2013

In memory of Sacha: family dog and Cook Islands personality

Sacha: "Awesome dog".
Located in Avarua in the Cook Islands, CafĂ© Jireh is a good place to stop for a coffee fix – but it’s also home to a very personal, very moving memorial to Sacha, a much-loved family dog.

Visitors are not uncommonly moved to tears as they read manager Brian, Rachael, Jackson, Tama and Ruby's beautiful tribute to their dog, and I found myself crying in the cafe. It is a very sad story - but the bond this family had with their "fourth child" was something really special.

With their permission I’ve reproduced the text from Sacha's memorial below.

This display is in remembrance of our much loved family member and Cafe Jireh Icon ‘’Sacha’’ who was tragically run over outside the cafe (*see details below) in her daily sun tanning spot on Monday December the 3rd 2012 at 10.00am and died on Wednesday 5th December 2012 at 5.00pm at the age of 3 ½, born in New Zealand 28th May 2009 in Kaipara Flats, Warkworth and Died here in Rarotonga.
From chasing wild pigs and rats in New Zealand to terrorizing Mina birds, chickens, moko lizards, rocks, rats, Tupa crabs and any other dog  or person she didn’t like the look of that ventured too close to Cafe Jireh.
She attended every Celebration on The Rock Church early Morning Prayer meeting and School of Leaders, a dedicated Church member who tended to fend off and bark at anyone who was not part of the Church’s prayer meeting. Was always ready and excited for anyone wanting to ‘’throw me a rock’’ as they departed the morning meeting heading to the cafe for a coffee. 
She was also the most elusive touch rugby player who enjoyed showing off her tremendous turn of speed, stamina and Israel Dagg like sidestep, all the while keeping an eye on any Mina bird or dog that thought it may invade the field of play, if so she would chase it off in a verbal barrage of barks that would scare any intruder. She would have easily made it into any All Black or Kiwi team if she chose too.
At home in Avana she attended Brian’s early morning prayer walks, pouncing on any crab or fish that may be lurking in the shallow water of the harbour, lazed around in the hammock or on Rach’s couch ‘’Get off the couch Sacha!’’ could be heard most mornings. She constantly fended off the 40 odd wild chickens that daily invade the property, managing to kill off the odd small one but running away from the mother hens if they looked aggressive, constantly trying to catch ‘’no tail’’ the resident moko lizard that would always be just too high up on the wall to catch, even in the dark of night she could be heard earnestly trying to get ‘’no tail’’.
Sacha always enjoyed a belly rub or a quick play anytime of the day or night, learning to roll over for any bits of food that may be on the offering. When growled she would simply roll over onto her back and with the look of complete innocence deny all allegations.  Loved to play with “Nikao’’ the neighbour’s dog, “You can’t catch me, you can’t catch me’’ she would go around and around the house at full speed with a huge grin on her face. She was taught to ride on the scooter after a lengthy training period, although not her favourite means of transport, loved the air conditioning in the Toyota Vitz much better!!!
Didn’t enjoy any storms or windy nights, she would sneak into the bedroom in the dark of night ‘’Park up’’ on one of the floor rugs or try a sneaky ‘’I’ll just sleep on Tama’s bed, no one will notice me...’’ with the look of complete innocence on her face. Didn’t like the water, even after a few training swims. Hated being washed, when Tama approached with the towel in hand she would immediately run under the bed and would have to be coaxed out, once washed she would blast around the property  until she found the nearest dirt pile and have an enjoyable back rub all to the voice of Tama ‘’Get out of it Sacha’’!
Sacha is greatly missed by all; we will always have happy memories of her antics and be grateful for the time she was with us. Thanks for those who prayed and sent their regards, you are awesome.
Close up of one of the photos: Sacha chasing a crab.

 *How Sacha Died
An explanation of how our friend died, by Brian Aitken.
Monday morning around 10.00am I was cooking in the cafe and saw a car pull in, Sacha would sleep in the car park in the sun. As I saw the car come in I could see that Sacha would be run over so I yelled out to her, it was too late as she was in a deep sleep and the car ran straight over her stomach/chest area.
I immediately yelled to Rach and we both went outside, Sacha had run around the side of the building and was barking and shaking, I knew then that this would not be good as she is a small dog and it was a big car. Rach immediately took her to the vet at Esther honey, she was examined and pronounced ‘’only minor injuries, a couple of days and she would be fine but you will need to keep an eye on her if she deteriorates bring her in’’ I knew it was bad and wanted her to have an x-ray but it was broken down.
We took Sacha home Monday night and her breathing was bad, I knew she had a punctured lung or something but didn’t want to alarm the family, after staying up late and praying for her I went to sleep knowing that she might not make it but hoping she would. I took her back to the vet on the Tues morning and they put a drip into her and would check on her throughout the day. That afternoon she seemed to have gotten better but still had the bad breathing which I didn’t like, we were hoping that she would only have bad bruising and would recover and all would be back to normal. She stayed at the vets Tuesday night, Wednesday morning I checked again and the breathing seemed worse, the vet said he would ring if anything happened.
Rach got a call at 2:30pm saying for us to come in as Sacha was deteriorating, I picked up my boys from school and told them the news, we all cried and the boys couldn’t really believe what was happening. We arrived at the vets and Sacha was not good, short breaths but still standing up, we all cried and I texted and called for people to pray for her, hoping for her to be healed. The vet said they had drained 100mLs of blood from her lungs and it wasn’t good, a 50/50 chance of survival.
We continued to pray and believe for a miracle and went home. We felt she would make it. At 5pm the vet called and said Sacha had died on the operating table, her lungs had filled with blood and her heart had stopped. We all cried again and off we went to pick up our “4th child” as Simone Feao put it. 
It was very hard seeing Sacha there, she was still warm and I expected her to wake up like ‘’Lazarus” we all cried and prayed on the way home. Life did not return to Sacha, Jackson went straight to work, digging a grave, Ruby wailed like a Maori Tangi was happening, Tama Sobbed, Rach cried and I did all 4,not believing really but having to. In the late evening as darkness crept in we gave Sacha a final lap of her home, gathered up all her belongings: 2 beds, unopened dog food, shampoo, her dinner from Monday night that she didn’t eat, toys, her dog collar and tag and a few rocks that she carried around, anything that she liked. We had our own funeral service in the dark and each said a few teary words, we buried her near the wild chickens she terrorized and said goodbye to our very much loved and missed family member and friend, ‘’Sacha’’.
We will play again my friend! Brian
The sign outside Cafe Jireh.