tragic tuesday: in memory of a most beloved

Misfit Monday? Nope. This week it’s Tragic Tuesday.

It may be a while before I start posting particularly upbeat blogs again. Although, I will share the one bit of good news I have: Aiden is alive. Aside from one broken key (found where to buy replacements) and an A key that is a bit temperamental, all is well with him. So this isn’t in memory of my 4-year-old laptop.

It’s in memory of my baby. Sunny, my 12-year-old golden retriever, who was basically a rescue dog when she was 6 months old. I’ll tell you her story, if you care to listen.

It starts with Sam. Sam was probably the most energetic, play-driven dog ever. He was hyper. Really hyper. And we didn’t know what to do for him. My parents got the idea that maybe we should get a puppy for him, a playmate. So we started looking, and my mom found an add in the newspaper for a 6-month-old golden retriever puppy that needed a new home. So we took Sam with us to make sure they’d get along, first of all.

The moment they met, they were instant friends. Love at first sight, no exaggeration. The family had been trying to take care of her, but with what had been going on, she had basically been suffering from neglect. So we took her home that night, and day after day at our house we watched her become happier and live up to her name: Sunny.

Sam and Sunny were the perfect match. For three years they were absolutely inseparable. And then Sam died very suddenly of what was basically canine sars. The best vets in the state did an autopsy because they wanted to know what killed him and even then it was inconclusive.

Sunny was heartbroken. I thought it was going to be like Where The Red Fern Grows, where Little Ann dies of loneliness and heartbreak after Old Dan is killed by the Mountain Lion. Sunny’s face started turning grey, and she wasn’t even 4 years old.

We knew at that point that Sunny needed a friend. So we contacted a breeder we had met when I took Sunny to the state fair in dog obedience for 4H. They also had a female golden named Sunny. My Sunny knew all the obedience stuff, she just didn’t want to do it because she wanted to be with people and make new friends instead. Turns out they had a litter of puppies recently, and we claimed a little boy. When we brought him home, Sunny was like wtf is this little thing? Why does it keep following me? It took her about a week to figure out that it was a puppy, and that she could play with it. He wasn’t Sam, but he would suffice.

The two remained together, and although Sunny wasn’t as attached to Skittles as she was to Sam, or as much as Skittles was to her, she returned to her regular, overly happy Sunny state of being. Sunny had various health problems over the years, including a torn ACL which she had surgery on, to another torn ACL which eventually healed up on it’s own (she couldn’t have surgery on this one because of another health problem).

And then late last fall she was diagnosed with kidney disease, which would claim her life over the course of a few months. We kept her medicated and well cared for much longer than could be hoped for, nearly 8 months. She had off days, and last thursday we thought it was just another off day, but as the hours went by, we began to wonder if it was more than that. Friday she was possibly worse, and we rushed her off to the vet. I has to carry her to the car and into the vet because she was too weak to move more than her head and her tail. The vet ran some quick x-rays, and what he suspected based on what we had told him was backed up, although the x-rays weren’t absolutely conclusive. Sunny had a specific kind of tumor that had grown off her spleen and it had ruptured, causing major internal bleeding. Even on  young healthy dog, one of these tumors was absolutely fatal. My dad called my mom at work, and the vet explained what was going on, and she said she’d leave work and come in. By the state Sunny was in, I was worried my mom wouldn’t get there in time. But she did, and we spent the next hour saying our goodbyes. A minute before the vets took her into the back to put her to sleep, she gave my mom and I the most hearty tail wag she possibly could, and I’m fairly sure she used the last of her strength to do it, to tell us she loved us one last time.

I’ve never been part of the choice on whether or not to put an animal down before. I’ve never gotten to say goodbye either. With Sunny, I watched her weaken within the three hours we were at the vet, to the point where I knew she had hours left at best. My mom gave me the option to take her back home, but I didn’t even know if she’d live long enough for us to get her home. It was her time. So we said our goodbyes, and told each other I love you.

She’s with Sam again, her soulmate. Running around, playing, like they used to do when I’d take them to a park near here and let them off leash. Her tail is going in circles, because that’s what it does when she gallops along. There are plenty of stuffed animals for her to tote around (we called them her dead ducks), and they all smell like me because the more one smelled like me, the more she loved it. There are plenty of friendly strangers for her to just go up and greet. And there will be mischief to be had, especially with teasing Sam. What may be decades for me will be the blink of an eye for her, when I see her again.


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