Laying my Running Partner to Rest
*This isn’t a post regarding fitness but rather a story of personal pain in losing a very close pet.
December 26, 2012 was one of the saddest days of my life. It was the day after Christmas and also the day that I laid my sweet dog of 8 years, Sonny, to rest. Her death was a shock to me, my husband, my family and friends and to write about it, even now, is excruciatingly painful. When I returned from my trip from Sedona, I heard Sonny whining and “talking” like she normally does when she heard my car pull into the driveway. She was ecstatic to see me and jumped and licked all over me. The next day, December 20, I noticed that she didn’t eat as much and just didn’t seem interested in her food. I chalked it up to a little stomach bug because she was still acting like her normal self (hyper and happy). Over the course of the next 3 days, we noticed that she had absolutely no interest in food whatsoever (we even tried deli meat and hot dogs!) and she made this wheezing noise when she breathed. On Christmas Eve, I took her to the Animal ER and after many tests and xrays, I received the news that she had a very aggressive form of lymphoma and her lungs were engulfed. The vet told me that chemo was an option but for what she saw on the x-rays, not recommended. She mentioned that we could do a steroid which would prolong Sonny’s life for at least 2 more months and at least I could start that immediately. We tried Christmas Eve and Christmas day to get her to take the steroid and wrapped it in every delightful type of food that she once loved and she still wouldn’t take it. I could tell by her eyes that she was sad and tired but she still wagged her tail every time she saw one of us. The day after Christmas, we took her to our normal vet for a 2nd opinion. Our vet said that there was little to nothing that we could do and to try and prolong her life would be a disservice to Sonny. I laid on the cold floor and held Sonny and repeatedly told her that I was sorry and that I loved her. I hated the vet because Sonny was just there in September for her check up and everything was fine. I hated myself for not noticing something sooner even though Sonny gave me no signs. Making the decision to end my best friends life was the hardest decision that I’ve had to do yet. I still debate with myself on whether or not it was a good decision and often find myself in tears, nearly every day because she’s not here.
My face was down on the floor in front of her face when she took her last breath.
Because she was such a big dog and there is so much snow on the ground (and it’s frozen), we decided to cremate her. She is now in a beautiful locked box waiting for Spring when Matt and I will go on one of her favorite hikes and sprinkle her ashes as we walk.
I’m tired of the tears streaming down my face now and I don’t want to be Debbie Downer anymore. I’d like to share with you Sonny’s story.
I adopted Sonny in the early Fall of 2004. It was the beginning of my Junior Year at Texas A&M and I had finally moved out of the dorms and into a house with a fenced backyard! I did what every broke college student would do at that point, I got a dog! I went to the College Station animal shelter and without doing any research or really giving it any thought, I picked Sonny. She was skinny, with big, floppy ears. They guessed that she was just over a year or so, a mutt, possibly a hound/lab mix but I could see that she would be the perfect running partner.
This picture was the first one taken of us together, just a few days after I adopted her.
Sonny and I ran countless 5Ks. We even won the Texas A&M “Run for the Ring” 5K! She was my running partner and a very good one at that. Even with her nose to the ground 99% of the time, yanking my arm back or stopping every 5 minutes to relieve herself, she was my perfect running partner.
Sonny and I in 2004 after winning the Texas A&M ring at the Run for the Ring 5K. She was exhausted, clearly!
Sonny was also strange in that she feared water but L-O-V-E-D to get pampered at PetsMart. I would take her once a month and they would always return her to me with a bright pink bandana wrapped around her neck. She was a happy pup.
I bought her chew toys for her birthday, for Christmas, and for Valentine’s Day every year and she would just bury them. I still feel terrible for the people that bought that house in College Station because I swear, if they ever try to plant things or dig up the dirt, they will find hundreds of stanky, old bones and chew toys.
I would drive to Sonic about 3 times a week during happy hour to get a Route 44 Diet Dr.Pepper with vanilla, easy ice and Sonny went with me always. Her large self sat in the front passenger seat of my tiny 2-door Chevrolet Cavalier.
Sonny understood me. I understood Sonny. Match made in heaven!
Sonny would park herself in the front seat every time I drove home to Medina to see my family on some weekends. She loved playing with their dogs and running for hours in the fields. One of my favorite pictures of her (it’s framed upstairs) is her basking in the sun in a grass field behind my parents house. She looks so beautiful and is so happy.
A few months before I graduated, I received an offer to work for a large national company but would have to move to Utah. I was terrified. Leave my family? Leave my friends? Move to a new state by myself, not knowing a single soul? Why not? I had Sonny and decided to make that move.
Sonny and I moved to Logan, Utah in the late Fall of 2006. I found an old farmhouse (2 bdrm, 1 bath) for rent that would be our little sanctuary. The only problem was that the owner wouldn’t allow pets in the house. That normally wouldn’t be an issue but the owner lived RIGHT next door and could see whether or not she was outside. So, what I did was sneak Sonny in the house every night at 11 PM. She would curl up on the floor at the foot of my bed and would stay with me the entire night. I would set my alarm every morning at 5 AM and would sneak her back outside. She was worth it.
Sonny was with me through a big break up, the night shift, a new relationship, a wedding, 3 different moves, a cat, and so much more.
I know that people say that I saved Sonny, that I rescued Sonny but it really is the other way around. Sonny saved me.