I lost a wonderful friend in October. This friend was always there when I was down. She sat with me when I was sick. On my very worst days, she was there to bring encouragement and acceptance. This friend was not my wife, yet I daresay she loved me. And I can now reveal that I loved her, and miss her terribly. Yes, this was my dear departed dog, Sunny. I now know why people would clone their pets.
We moved to Clayton, New York from Madison Heights, Michigan in August of 1998. One of the very first things we did for our kids was to pick out a dog. We picked the runt of the litter, because she was the only one left. She had bald patches on her back where her littermates had clawed her so they could get at the milk before her. I was concerned she would be mean, or paranoid because she had been the smallest dog and had been pushed around by her brothers and sisters. This fear was shown to be completely unfounded.
She proved to be the archetype Golden Retriever: happy, faithful, undemanding, loving, great with kids and obedient. She was always eager to please, and could never get enough of our attention. We called her love-starved, because she was always hungry for more of our time with her.
I remember countless times that she greeted me when I came home, tail wagging, eyes bright, just overjoyed to see me. I would always spend a couple of moments petting her when I came home, but it never seemed to be enough. Alas, Sunny’s Affection Fuel Tank was never full. She could never get enough of our love.
She absolutely lived to go for walks. Now, this always struck me as remarkable, because we live on a country lane, and she never had to be tied up. She could take off and explore the neighborhood unleashed anytime she wanted . The neighbors all knew her, and welcomed her. My neighbor, Mr. Flower, was an older gentleman, and she would go over to his house to visit. He would welcome her into his house. She would sit at his chair and let him pet her. They fed her steak (!) and treated her like an honored guest. Our other neighbors always welcomed her as well, and she got to know several of our neighbors homes because they were so comfortable inviting in this unnaturally happy visitor.
We live across the street from a golf course. She would saunter across the street to greet the golfers. Nobody was ever afraid of her. They would welcome her and share their snacks with her. One time, a foursome welcomed her into their company, and she was gone for four hours while they golfed 18 holes. We got a call from the golf course manager who told us she was ready to be picked up. The foursome just enjoyed having her around. She was greatly loved, and seemed to make everyone feel better.
She rarely barked, and never whined. The only time I ever saw her anger was once in the early spring. I had come home from work for lunch, and it was such a nice day, I took off my shirt and laid down on the grass in the backyard. She came walking towards the backyard, noticed me, and growled and rushed me in a very threatening manner. Stunned, I lifted myself up and said “Sunny”. She instantly recognized me, and then crawled toward me whimpering because she thought I was hurt. I think I heard her heart break. Once she realized I was okay, it was love feast again. I am starting to get a little teary eyed here.
It would be very easy, but it wouldn’t be fair, to try to turn this into a tear jerker post, because that would make you sad, the last thing Sunny ever wanted. So I will wrap this up by saying that we had the most incredible dog that a family could ask for, and if there is a Heaven for dogs ( and I am hoping there is), Sunny is unquestionably there. And she is making everybody even happier.