Just before Christmas we had to say goodbye to our precious little dog, Sugar. For the past almost sixteen years she has slept with me, followed me around the house so she could keep me in her sight and loved me unconditionally. My son was in high school when we went to see the litter of puppies and Sugar ran right over to us and jumped on my lap. We knew right away that she was the puppy for us and that we would be taking her home as the newest member of our family. Sugar was sweet, affectionate, determined and spirited. She loved walks, cuddling and treats but hated being brushed.
When Sugar was about two years old we added Daisy to our family. Daisy loved Sugar and followed her everywhere. Whatever Sugar did, Daisy did. It was clear that Sugar was the boss!
Four years ago, a man my son has worked with, was trying to find a home for the last dog in a litter. My son, who lives with me, immediately wanted him. I wasn’t sure about having three dogs but I agreed. Dobby settled right into our family and he loved Sugar, too.
Over the last year Sugar started struggling and we knew what was coming. She couldn’t hear or see very well and could no longer jump up on the bed to sleep with me. When I put her on the bed, she was nervous and I knew that she was afraid she would fall off. I bought her a comfy bed that she loved but I missed having her cuddle with me at night. Her bed was very plush but neither Daisy or Dobby would get on it. They knew that it was Sugar’s bed.
This past fall Sugar began to fail. Her legs sometimes gave out and she would fall down. She still had moments where she seemed like her old plucky self but those times were getting to be farther and farther apart. On a Friday morning in November I had to rush her to the vet because she had gotten worse. She did some tests and gave me some medicine for her to take. It has always been a struggle to get Sugar to take pills. No matter what we put them in, peanut butter, hot dogs, cheese, she managed to spit the pills out and eat the food. Remember, I said that she was determined! My son and I crushed them up and managed to get some of them in her but then, over the weekend, she stopped eating We crushed the pills up, added chicken broth and put the pills down her with a syringe. She rallied a little bit but on Tuesday morning, my son came to get me because he had been up all night with her and he didn’t know what to do. Her legs didn’t seem to be working and she was very distressed. I got down on the floor with her to try and comfort her but she was beyond that. I called work, told them that I wouldn’t be in, put Sugar in her crate and drove to the vet even though I didn’t have an appointment. I was crying so hard that the receptionist put me in a room and let me stay there because the doctor wouldn’t be in for over an hour.
I was able to hold Sugar and she cuddled with me like she always has. When the doctor arrived she thought, as did I, that she had had a stroke. The doctor said that we could do more tests and take her to a specialist but I knew that if I did that, I would only be doing it for me and not what was best for Sugar. So, I made the decision that no one wants to make and told the doctor that I thought it was time to let her go. She agreed and said we could wait until my son could leave work and get there. He got to hold her and we were both with her when she died. It was very peaceful.
I decided to keep her ashes and although I picked them up, I still can’t open the bag to read the card that accompanies the ashes. I will in due course but the sadness is too acute right now. We are trying to decide how we want to honor Sugar and we might bury her ashes and plant a flowering bush or something similar in our garden. I am going to take my time to decide what to do. Daisy and Dobby aren’t sure what happened but they are doing okay.
I am glad that we still have two precious little dogs to love but Daisy is thirteen years old so she is getting older too but I can’t think about that. I know that I will come out of my sadness over losing Sugar but right now it is overwhelming me when I think about her. I am sure that some people don’t understand the grief we have over losing a pet but they become part of our family and we miss them when they are gone.