Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tribute to the Graveyard Dog

Once upon a time, 10 years ago, a sealed up cardboard box was left in a local graveyard behind a church.  The box was opened to reveal a litter of puppies and the preacher of the church stood in his pulpit and asked his congregation who would step up and adopt these puppies. Slowly, one by one, the puppies were adopted, down to one final puppy, a tiny black and white boy.  My youngest daughter, who was 7 at the time, got wind of this situation through friends at school telling the story and thus began her campaign for this puppy.  That night she told us the story and said, "Will you go get that puppy?  I want that puppy with the small head"  (I have to say at this point that she had begged for a "dog with a small head" for a couple of years by that time and we had, through her descriptions, determined that she meant a small dog....not just his head being small!) We said no.  We already had a dog and really didn't need or desire a second one.  But the reign of terror that a small girl can heap on you can be staggering!  For several days she would ask first thing in the morning, call me from school, state her case all afternoon and again at bedtime.  Finally, on that Friday, I happened to be close to the church so I stopped in "just to look" at the puppy with the small head.  He was so tiny and although he looked like a beagle mix, I thought he would be a very small dog.  Little did I know!  He was sweet and cute and I, of course, couldn't resist.  So I took him home and when my daughter, burst through the door that afternoon, she somehow knew without my having told her.  "Where is he? Where is he?", she shouted!


Of course, he grew.  He finally ended his growing at almost 50 lbs.  So he was no longer a dog with a small head, but we loved him anyway.


Over time we started to notice that he smelled bad....really bad!  We tried everything we could get our hands on:  Prednisone, Coconut Oil, Tea Tree Oil, changes in food, some sort of drops from the pet supply store.  After a few years, we just gave up and let him stink.  Not that we wanted to give up, we just didn't know what else to do since nothing worked.  I often wondered if he could smell himself!


His personality was often a science experiment.  You just never knew what to expect!  He was very loving, but at the same time, very solitary.  He had a kennel on the front porch and one inside the house and he spent a lot of time in them, peering out and watching the world go by.  He never barked at the UPS man or anyone coming to visit.  We would bring him in often in the evenings but we found that he simply could not relax.  He would sit very upright and stare at you....and stare at you....and stare at you....and slowly blink one eye.  The girls would often say "He smells like the pits of hell and stares into your soul"!!!

But he did love to be loved.  He was exceptionally well behaved, would come instantly when you called and if you said "no" to anything at all, he would screech to a halt to wait for you to tell him what he should be doing.

He had three favorite things in the whole world:  Bailey, a fire in the fireplace and going for walks.  He knew the precise time that walking happened and he was filled with a joy that would just fill your heart.  We never put him on a leash to walk, he would bound ahead of us running crazily and chasing rabbits and squirrels and the occasional cat...although he actually liked (and feared!) cats.  But he would come instantly if we called him back.  His only weakness on walks was his love of chasing cars.  He seemed to feel that it was sport and we worried greatly when he did it.  But we live in a small dead end neighborhood in the country so it wasn't a big issue.

So a couple of weeks ago when he had a bloody spot in his eye and was just acting "off", I took him to the vet who thought that he had had "some sort of trauma", we suspected maybe a collision with a car since we knew his love of chase.  He got better quickly.  But then on Monday morning, he didn't respond when I called him to go outside so I went to him.  He was in his inside kennel but did not seem to hear me when I called, so I touched him and he jumped up.  At first I laughed because I just thought I has disrupted his dreaming but when he came out, he staggered and fell and could not get back up.  I lifted all 50 lbs of him (with my bad back) and rushed him to the vet.  As it turned out, he had never been hit by a car, our vet now thinks he had been having a series of mini-strokes....and this one had been too much for him to recover from.  I held him and cried into his stinky fur while he made the journey over the rainbow bridge.

I tell this entire story, not as a sad story but as a reminder that all of God's creatures are here for a reason.  We learned so much patience and tolerance from our Graveyard Dog.  I strongly feel that had we not been the family to adopt him in the very beginning, he would have had a very short life.  Mainly because I'm sure a lot of people would have taken him to the pound because of his stink and oddness.  That is not to say that I didn't consider finding him a new home in the early years.  But ultimately, I just couldn't do that to him.  We were all he had ever known outside a cardboard box.  We enriched his life and he returned the favor, many times over.

So when you decide to get a dog, first try the shelters.  You might just find a companion who needs you as much as you need him.  And remember, don't give up.  An animal is a commitment, through thick and thin and even the challenging ones have value.  We will miss you, dear, sweet Sam.  I know you will be waiting for us on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

2003-2013

22 comments:

dindi said...

Such a Lovely story! Thank You for sharing!

Micki Wilde said...

Aww Sunny, so sorry for the loss of your stinky dog. We have a 9 year old stinky dog too who we lovingly call 'fish breath'.
My heart goes out to you and your family right now sweetie x x

Scrapacat said...

What an amazing story. I'm so happy to know he was loved, unconditionally. Thank you for giving Sam a quality home and life.

Lori Leissner said...

A beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing. <3

Kate said...

So, so sweet, Sunny. We have dogs that are part of our family as well. What a lucky pup and a lucky family to have found each other. So sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing.

Connie Permenter said...

Wonderful tribute Sunny <3

Kathie Vezzani said...

I often feel losing a pet is one of the hardest thing to endure. Hugs to Bailey and to your family for the passing of Mr. Stinky. You were lucky to have each other.

Edie said...

He was so very loved. I send tears to you all and thank younfor loving him so very much.

Sunny Carvalho said...

Thank you all for the kind comments. I'm so glad to have friends who relate. xoxo

Super Jen said...

Wonderful tribute to your furry family member. The quirky ones stick in your hearts the longest.

patricias fabric art said...

I am so sorry about your sweet little dog -but you know he had a good life -its sad and you'll miss him but better he did'nt suffer

nwilliams6 said...

Wow - so beautifully told. Sniff, sniff.

Lin said...

Thank you for sharing this lovely story. I had a dog who had a stroke too and it broke my heart to let her go.

It sounds to me that you were all made for each other, and you were all blessed including him to have him in your lives.

Lin x

Marianne said...

Hi Sunny,
I nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award because you and your blog has captured my attention. Thanks for the connection and the inspiration. You can find the nomination here: http://illuminationsart.wordpress.com/liebster-award/
Feel free to accept or ignore, but just wanted to give you a shout out, especially because I think you’re just so talented and everyone needs to see your work.

Sunny Carvalho said...

Wow, thank you so much Marianne! I feel honored that you would say that and for the nomination. I also want to thank everyone who read and who commented. We have a new puppy and I will do a post about him soon! xoxo

Debi said...

I was on the Art Unraveled site reading about your classes which led me to your blog and your story of your dog. Exactly one year ago today we lost our black and white dog who for 15 years loved us with all her heart, all the while driving us mad!! We loved her too and when I read your story it brought tears to my eyes but joy to my heart that your stinky dog had been so loved.

Sunny Carvalho said...

Thank you, Debi. I hope I get to meet you at Art Unraveled. I'm so looking forward to it! We have an annoying new pup named Riley! He's not really annoying....but he IS a puppy eating up everything, peeing everywhere....you know! LOL Come over and search for me on Facebook. I post a lot over there!

Memorial Pets said...

Its was nice to hear a amazing story about your Dog journey. So sorry, that you lost your stinky dog. We offer you to create your dogs webpage and share your pictures, videos and amazing moments spent with your loved pet on our Online pet tribute website. We even provide virtual tribute to your pet every year. Have a look and let us know about it.

J-Lin said...

Oh, my. What a story and what a gift on both sides of this story. My heart foes to you and yours for the time you will be apart from your "graveyard dog", that your daughter knew was coming your way. How cool, how special.
Thank you for sharing your story and his.

Tricia Michael said...

Oh, I just found your blog, and I was going to just scroll down and not read but I read it all. I have tears pouring down, but I'm so glad he had a happy life! Someday I'm going to rescue a shelter dog, but I have to wait until I can move (live in small apartment). Anyways,I'm glad to have found you!

Sunny Carvalho said...

Tricia, thank you so much for that kind comment! The update to the story is that over the summer, my college age daughters went to the beach with me and on a Saturday morning the wanted to "pet puppies" so we stopped by a local pet supply store that had adortable pups...so of course, we came home with a new puppy! I wanted a very small dog, like 8-10 lbs. He was teeny, tiny...about 2 lbs and they assured me he would be very small. So now, a few months later, he is 18 lbs and still growing! LOL But he's very fun and I do love him (of course, the girls are back at school so I have ALL the responsibility for him. Hahahaa!) I so glad you stopped by and I'll try to do a better job of posting more regularly. You can find me on FaceBook by searching my name. I do all of my daily art posting from there. xoxo

Mimi Bondi said...

A beautiful story that made me cry (dogs always melt my heart)...