Posted on October 21, 2014
My sweet Sunny Bunny is gone. Who knew that a dog could change a person so very much?
I can remember the very first time I saw her…in a kennel at the Carson Shelter. She was depressed, sick and when I offered her a treat wouldn’t even lift her head. She must have been distraught because she loved to eat. Loved it! Until the very end food was her very favorite thing. Just yesterday she had a few pieces of watermelon. Yes she adored watermelon. I will miss the mess she made devouring it.
I didn’t think I was going to bring her home. She was, after all, 16 and in poor health. And who in their right mind would want to open their heart just to get it broken in such a short time. My heart couldn’t take it. Or so I thought. And so I passed by her kennel.
But her face never left my mind. She would pop up every so often and I would push it away. Until I saw her again. She was in the same position on the kennel floor. That’s when I learned she was an owner surrender. I knew in that moment that I couldn’t let her die alone in that place. I knew she deserved to die with dignity and surrounded by love.
And just like that, my heart opened and Sunny slipped inside.
In those first days I wasn’t sure how long she would live. She was so sick. A trip to the vet confirmed she was ancient. Her teeth were worn down and many of them rotten. She had a tennis ball sized tumor on her leg. X-rays revealed 3 more inside her body. Her eyes were swollen and red. She had arthritis in her back legs. But she was happy. Her smile brightened my day…and her kisses were pure love…even though her breath could knock over a prizefighter.
We decided that we wouldn’t do anything invasive or heroic to stop the cancer. No biopsies, no chemo, no operations. We would just love her and let her live a few weeks surround by joy. A few weeks turned into two and a half years.
And what an amazing few years it was.
Turns out Granny was a fighter. Darrell and I would often joke that she was the energizer bunny powered by love. Or that if she were human, she’d be a 90-year-old woman with dyed red hair and a cigarette hanging from her mouth. A tough old broad.
She absolutely loved life. Car rides. Trips to the park. Stealing bones from Petco. Eating…everything. I’m not sure how we found out she loved all kinds of food. Broccoli, carrots, watermelon, just about anything…except mushrooms. She’d spit those out lickedy-split and then look at me like, “Really? You’re going to give me that crap?”
One thing about Sunny that was unusual…her tail never wagged. It just hung there. Her head did the same. She rarely lifted it and her posture was like a sad sack. It earned her the nickname Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh. It made me a little sad that she never wagged her tail, but I figured she probably had arthritis in it and it hurt her to move it too much.
And then she met the first neighborhood dog. And wow! That tail wagged a mile a minute. It was the only time it every wagged…when meeting new doggie friends. Until the very end, even when she could hardly walk, if she saw a dog she’d get a bounce in her step and speed up, tail wagging to greet them. Last week she met 3 new dogs on her morning pee and it brought me such joy to see her perk up so much.
She loved Gabby too. So much. And Gabby loved her. Wherever Sunny was, Gabby was right by her side. They shared a bed, even though each one had their own. It’s one of the things I will miss most…seeing my girls together. I know Gabby misses her already. When I got home yesterday I had to move the trashcans and I pulled into the driveway. My car door was open and Darrell was bringing Gabby back from a walk. She was happy to see me, but made a beeline for the car, put her paws on the seat and looked inside. She sniffed and looked around some more. I have no doubt she was looking for her sister.
Later that night, our neighbor came by to tell us how much she loved Sunny…and that during the day, Gabby was crying. God, how sad. Mourning her loss just like we are.
This morning was the first in a long time I didn’t wake up to a Chew Baca like alarm clock. Well…that’s not true. Yesterday there was no alarm either…which is one of the reasons I knew Sunny wasn’t feeling well. Every morning at 6:30 or 7 she would wake us up for breakfast. And she wouldn’t stop until she got her way. When she was younger and still very mobile she would even use her teeth to pull my covers off. “Get up! I’m hungry!”
It’s so hard to believe she’s gone. Neither one of us really thought she would die. She had been on death’s doorstep so many times. The first Christmas with her she had a stroke. It was horrible. She collapsed and was immobile, unresponsive. She lay on the floor, her eyes glassy and starring. I was sure it was the end. We picked her up and put her on her bed while we called the vet. By the time we got off the phone she was looking at us, as if she was saying, “Hey? What’s up? Why the long faces?”
She had a heart attack too. And another stroke. And 3 vestibular incidents. And in the summer she was prone to heat stroke. So many times we thought it was the end and each time she bounced back. The energizer bunny. Powered by love.
It’s been a while since she could climb on the couch by herself. Goodness. I remember how sad I was when I realized that she hadn’t been on her favorite chair in months. It was red velvet brocade and much too small for her. But she loved it and would force herself into it. It made me laugh every time I came home and saw her in it.
So many memories. So much love.
When she first came home to live with us, she wanted to eat our cats. I was so disappointed about that. And scared that she actually would. We worked with her for months and finally she was able to be around them. They would sleep on the couch together. All four of them, my perfect little family.
Until one day, Enzo decided to groom Sunny.
(Enzo grooms Gabby every morning. It’s amazing to see him clean her ears, eyes, back. And Gabby loves it.) Sunny did not! She was fine with the ears and face, but Enzo decided to lick her nose. His rough tongue must have scared the crap out of her! She let out a yelp/bark that was so loud, Enzo ran way fast as lightening, scared to death! That was the last time he groomed Sunny.
Each memory is so precious to me. I hope I never forget any of them. It’s amazing how they touch us. How they worm their way into our hearts and make themselves right at home. How much they become a part of our lives. And how empty it feels when they are no longer here.
Oh Sunny. You will be missed. You took a piece of my heart with you. You changed me to very core. You made me realize that I do have room in my heart to love an old dog even though our time would be short. You made me open my eyes to all the seniors…to give them a voice…to show everyone that they are worthy of love. You made me complete and I will be forever grateful that I had you in my life. You were so loved…but I know you know that.
Posted on July 27, 2012
Wow. Thank you PETCO! What a wonderful surprise.
Posted on July 9, 2012
Sunny is such a funny girl. Her personality continues to grow and flourish.
At night she sleeps in the living room…on the couch…or the chair…or her bed. She likes to mix it up. I’m lucky that I am able to close the front half of my house off from the back part. I found out that she loves cats. But not in the way Gabby does! I’d bet a million bucks in her younger days, Sunny loved to eat cats!
I am extra cautious with the boys because they have no fear of dogs. They will investigate them, sniff them and walk right up to them. Enzo especially. So with any new dog I keep them separted and slowly introduce them.
Sunny stays on the leash when the cats have full access to the house (usually at night when I’m on the couch watching TV, so I can keep a hold on the leash.) So during the first week the cats came out to meet this new dog they’d been smelling for days. Francis made his way over to sofa and jumped up on the back portion and slowly walked over to where Sunny was. (I kept tight hold and careful watch) Sunny was asleep. Then all of a sudden her nose started working. CATS! She sniffed the air with gusto. Because she can’t hear and can’t see well, she didn’t know exactly where the CAT was…She started “biting” the air. (It was adorable, but also made me realize I was right to be so cautious.)
Then Enzo came close. Sunny saw him and just stared. Then she looked at me. Then back at Enzo. Then Sunny looked at Gabby. Then back to the cat. You could see her brain working. “Why aren’t you chasing those things?”She didn’t try to go after him and her hackles stayed put, but she was way too interested in the boys.
Slowly her interest has lessened, but she still is very curious about them and I will never feel comfortable leaving them alone together, but now she will look and then go back to sleep. I’m grateful I am able to keep them seperated in a way that gives them both a nice amount of space.
Gabby loves Sunny. She seems to know that she needs extra attention and company. Gabby always sleeps with us in the bed. When I get up to go to sleep, she will immediately get up and follow. That has changed since Sunny came home. Gabby will stay on the couch with her on most nights.
Sunny also loves Gabby. She will give her kisses. She will sleep next to Gabby, getting as close as she possible can, someetimes squeezing herself in a tiny little spot. It’s adorable.
Sunny has also become quite a talker. She will lay at my feet when I’m editing and do her little whine/bark until I give her attention or pet her. At first I thought it was because she was in pain. Nope. As soon as I get on the floor with her, she will roll on the back, bark, paw at me and nibble the rug.
Every morning when I wake up, I feed the dogs. Sunny loves to eat! (In fact, she’s found the garbage can and once or twice I’ve come into the kitchen to find her giant head immersed in it!)
After they eat, I let them in the backyard to pee and so I can feed the cats. Well, Sunny has decided she would rather not be in the backyard in the morning. She refuses to go out. She looks at me with such a funny face and will turn and run (as fast as her arthritic legs will carry her). She preferes the yard when the sun is out.
Sunny is pretty mobile and can get up on the couch and jump up in the car too. Sometimes it takes her a little longer, but it’s so cute watching her climb up there.
She also loves tennis balls! She’ll even chase them. And she’s still got some power in the jaw. She’s destroyed 5 of them!
Bones are also another favorite treat. She loves them.
Sunny absolutely loves going on walks. She sniffs everything and tries her best to keep up with Gabby. I take the dogs for car rides and walks to downtown Culver City. I’ve written about her in the newspaper and several times people have recognized her. She loves the attention and greets everyone with a tail wag. She also loves the neighborhood dogs.Especially the boys. She’s a female Hugh Hefner. haha
Sometimes when she’s in a deep sleep she’ll wake up with a start and look around. As soon as she sees me or Gabby she relaxes and then falls right back to sleep.
Sunny also does this thing that makes me so, so, so happy. She will stop, look around intently, and then bark, roll on her back and smile. To me it seems like she is wondering if this home is real, maybe she’s dreaming…and then when she realizes, yes, it’s real, she can’t contain her joy.
Posted on June 10, 2012
It’s amazing the difference a day makes. Yesterday I left the shelter depressed and overwhelmed. Today I feel invigorated and filled with purpose.
This face hasn’t left my mind since I walked out of the shelter yesterday.
Her name is Shady. She is 16 years old. She has been at the shelter since May 29th. She is despondent, dejected and lost. Her face has invaded every moment I’ve lived today. Driving to the Riverside shelter…she popped into my head. Photographing the dogs there…she made her presence known. Eating lunch…there she was again.
With every thought of her, it became obvious what I had to do. But I’m still somewhat sane and I knew that it was probably a crazy idea. And so I made a couple calls to some friends to get their thoughts on the subject. My question…Am I insane to pull a 16 yr old dog from the shelter? Turns out no one was around to talk me off the ledge. I continued to debate with myself about Shady.
I also sent an email to my contact at Carson to get more information about her. I knew that he probably wouldn’t get back to me soon, as he’s off on sundays and busy on mondays getting back into the swing of things. Imagine my surprise when almost immediately after I sent that email I got a response from him.
I thought Shady was a stray that found her way into the shelter. Turns out I was wrong. She is an owner surrender. My contact gave me all the info about her. Living her entire life with a family and then dumped because she was too old.
With this new information, her face haunts me even more.
My friends were still MIA. Probably ehjoying their sunday with family and friends. I really needed to talk to someone about Shady. The husband was out. If I brought up the subject, I’m sure he would say no way. But he is a softy inside and if I show up with her, he won’t be able to turn her away. (Yes, I’m sneaky like that)
I called my vet. (Who happens to be the best vet around.) He answered the phone with dread, I’m sure. I would never call him on his day off unless it was an emergency.
And so I told him about Shady.
“I have almost made up my mind and I know it’s crazy, but I can’t let her die alone in the shelter. I just don’t know what to do. If you tell me not to, I probably won’t listen.”
He knows me well and didn’t even try to talk me out of it. Instead he told me to bring her in to the office when I get her and he will check her out. See? Best vet ever.
I made one last call to a friend and fellow rescue type, Steve. He is very level headed and doesn’t act on impulse like I do. He asked me what I was going to do. In that moment my decsion was made.
I am going to pull her from the shelter and find her a home. I’m going to treat her eye and make sure she isn’t in any pain. We’ll see what happens. I have no idea how her health is…at 16 years old there could be so many things wrong. But I’m throwing caution to the wind. I think she deserves to spend the last days (or months) feeling loved.
I’ve set up a Chip-In account for her to cover her medical and pull fees. And of course lots of yummy dog treats are in her future.