By John Toth
About 18 years ago, a white wise-guy mutt puppy came into our lives.
She was a rambunctious, hyperactive, pushy little beggar. She was all puppy.
“This could be your dog, Dad,” my oldest son urged. His goal was for us to keep this dog.
I didn't want to keep her. We already had a young boxer and an elderly mutt that was not aging gracefully. But I was going to let her stay until we decided what to do.
This white bundle of energy was going bonkers.
She ate up everything in sight. She didn’t mind our cats, especially not when she found their food. The cats had a way to teach her to stay away. She caught on quickly, but she was still in constant search for their food.
Then one morning this bundle of energy remained quiet. She lay on the couch. My entrance into the living room did not trigger her to go nuts.
“There is something wrong with her,” I told my wife, Sharon. “Could you drop her off at the veterinarian?”
Had we taken her just one more day later, chances were that she would have died. She had worms - lots of worms. It didn’t look good.
We called the doctor’s office for updates. What was happening to her? Was she going to make it?
Then came the good news. Two days after we took her in, the white tornado was ready to come home.
We were so relieved. “She’s as good as new,” said the doctor.
She looked around carefully when she came through the door again. I was sitting on the couch.
She ran toward me, jumped on the couch and started licking and nibbling at my fingers.
Her ultimate goal was to land her tongue on my face. But with her being infested with worms just a few days earlier, I kept clear. Maybe later.
She devoured all her food. She was hungry, but she always acted like she was hungry - except that one morning when she laid on the couch.
Were we going to keep her? She was working very hard to make her case. We decided that at least for now we would keep her, but that simply meant that we would keep her.
What should we name this sweet puppy? We considered many names, but none were really a good fit. Then my wife, Sharon, said, “she’s white like sugar.”
That’s it. We named her Sugar. Not only because she was white, but also because she was sweet. All she wanted was a home and someone to belong to. We gave her one, and she belonged to me.
Sugar came with us to some softball games and on many vacations and camping trips. She slept on the lower part of the bed by my feet.
She became my athlete. I taught her tricks. She caught the tennis ball on the bounce, released it and caught another one on the run.
As she got older and less mobile, she became my shadow. Wherever I went, she followed.
She had a mattress in my office, living room and bedroom.
As soon as I got up, she managed to get herself up and follow me to the other room.
When her hips were giving out, I bought a dog sling to take the pressure off her back legs. I bought food and snacks loaded with supplements that helped with her hips and joint problems.
I gave her longer showers to let the warm water comfort her joints.
The doctor was amazed that she could still walk some on her own. She needed help going to the bathroom, and when we mis-timed it, I cleaned it up.
Then time ran out.
I laid my hand on her head and watched as she closed her eyes.
Her advanced age prohibited me from saving her life for a second time. I wanted to.
I wanted to take care of her longer, but that was not the best choice for Sugar. I said good bye. I had to let her go.