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Today, on National Dog Day, I thought it only fitting to put down for posterity some memories of our family’s dog, Sunny.

We adopted Sunny from an animal sanctuary out in the desert near Las Cruces, New Mexico where we lived when the girls were little.  We always remember how old Sunny is by comparing with our youngest’s age, because Krissy was two when Sunny joined the family.  She was a golden brown, fluffy ball of fur with a curly tail and black snout.   Gentle and timid, it wasn’t unusual to find Krissy IN the crate with Sunny sometimes, or Sunny laying on the floor with one of the girls laying their heads on her.

We probably should have taken her to puppy class but never did so she was rather unruly when we tried to go for walks, as Kimberly found out the hard way one day as she was dragged through a bunch of weeds and stickers by our overly enthusiastic pup.  We really had to be careful because if we opened the front door with her nearby she’d run for it and it would take forever to get her back in the house.  She thought we were playing a game and whenever we’d get closer she’d bolt farther away.  We wizened up and had our neighbor come after her and because she was so timid she’d tear back into the house.  Once the girls and I got in the van and started to drive down the street with the side door open.  Sunny thought we were going somewhere and jumped in the van.  That only worked once.

Sunny’s been a constant in the midst of life changes, coming along for the ride whenever we moved from one town and house to another.  She’s a friend for all of us, a cheerful greeter with nose at the door whenever we come home, a companion who comes to lay right by us wherever we are.  There’s no greater joy for her, it seems, than to be with us if you can imagine that.  If we start packing for a trip and then get her leash because she gets to come along, she becomes a bundle of wiggles and tail wags and zips for the door.  If we have to leave her behind, she whimpers and follows us around as she watches us get ready. I love to hug her furry neck and hear her make soft grunting/moaning noises as if to say “Oh, that feels good.”  I love to rub her soft, velvety ears.  I love to scratch under her chin and have her look up into my eyes, then give me a little lick.

Her face and chest have turned white and her tail’s not quite as curly.  She’s grown some lumps and bumps all over her body, one in particular on her side that is now about the size of a melon.  She kind of shuffles down the stairs with stiff little legs and takes them one at a time going up now.  Her eyes are cloudy and it seems we have to call her a little more loudly these days.

We’re all in denial, we don’t want to think about not having Sunny around.  The other day when we came home from church she didn’t recognize our voices and was standing across the room barking with her ears pinned back in fear.  She finally realized it was us and came closer for some love.  It made me sad.

I just know God made dogs for people to love.  He knew we needed someone who loved us unconditionally, that was soft and cute, that was always ready to be loved and petted, that was faithful and fun.  My youngest, Krissy, has been especially close to her and told me the other day, “Mom, we’re not going to put her down until I say it’s time.”  I didn’t say anything.  For now we’ll just keep loving her and enjoying her – our sweet ol’ doggy from the desert.

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