I love dogs. Never had any as a child. In the 80’s I got a pup who was to beome the love of my life. I named her “Sunshine”. This is really a 2 dog story that is real. Sunshine had a Stroke at about 8 years of age. The Vet said, “I should have brought her sooner” There was nothing he could give hr now to help. Tearfully I got her down from the table and cried al the way home. Next day I got an advt. I’d saved from the local paper stating, “I make House Calls for Old Dogs & Old People. I called and had my first and lasting Housccall Veterninarian. She went over Sunshine from head to tail. Then let her walk udoors and saw her staggeing gate & fall. She said she’ll make it but will need nursing care. Relieved, I changed her diet and fed her food and with a Turkey baister, massaged her throat until I was sure it was down right. She’d have helped me if she could have. We had a few months of the TLC and love for each other when one day I noticed her breath smelled different. “Something” told me she wasn’t gonna be well again. That night I sang her song as many times before. “You are MY Sunshine”. That night was different as it was my Good bye to her. When I called the Vet in the morning she came when she could and checked my “Sunshine” over and said she is in Kidney Failure.

I needed to make “that” decision or just let her suffer for awhile. I made the decision. (Gee, Mark, as I type this I can feel that old ache is returning.) Sunshine was sleeping and stayed sleeping in my arms. Vet had asked me if I wanted time to say “good by” to her, I said, no, I already did the other night. I’m sure God prepared me for that event.
It took me very long to even see the place on the flor wher her bed was. I’d hear her during the night in my sleep.

Now, to the “Rest of my story”. We came home one night. Hubby let me ot at the door as he always does, then parked the car. I looked over to my porch door and saw a dog atmy porch door. I ran calling out to my Sunshine, got there, grabbed the dog tears flowing. The dog made a gutteral sound. I turned on the light to see a Brown Lab on a Tow Chain hooked to my door! My Sunshine was a Black Lab mix but the size was similar. Still getting over that shock of seeing “my dog in the doorway, husband got to the porch and wondered what stunk. Then asked where did that dog come from?? I didn’t know. I still could hardly speak! I only know everyone who knew me knew how much I mourned losing my Sunshine. This dog was an obviously abused animal. Skin and bone, slick with greasey fur and a collar that had grown into her skin. (Hubby said, she’s not staying here. In the morning we’ll find out about this.)

I got a bowl of water & food and bedding for her–couldn’t risk removing the chain. All night long I was peeking out to be sure she was okay. It was cold in Dec. and we didn’t bring her indoors. Good we didn’t as anything she aate or drank went through her like water!

Vet checked her the next day and gave her a Rabies shot just in case, since we didn’t know anything about her. Yes, we did keep her and the collar aad to be surgically removed. vet also noted her voice box had been removed and she also needed to be spayed SOON. It is hard to imagine the cruelty this dog had endured. We had 6 good yeears with her. In all that time she still went outdoors and licked the dew from the grass which we thought is how she must have gotten wter. We always had to keep her bowl full all the time. Whenever it was empty she paced. I got on to this and refilled it. She’d take a sniff, pat it and settle down. Great to see her eat as it took weeks before she could retain food or water after her starvation.

Now Mark, comes the part I still get sad about. Yet there is also a beauty in it.
I wanted to call this dog Stardust–but after trying different names she responded to Cocoa and that must have been her name before so we left it that way. She got sick during her 6th year with us. After a few days of this I called our Vet who said it seemed like Pancreatitis. She drew blood and we fed her a bland food. Nothing was staying down and she needed IV’s that we could do here at home with the Vet checking periodically. She also had some special x-rays to see what way going on. Some internal organs were enlarged. She was put on Prednizone and had ups and downs all that Summer. One night she didn’t want to come in. It was raining and she curled up in the corner of the yard and slept. I stayed out with her. She had bonded to my husband and he with her. Their devotion was almost enviable to me, but I was happy for him.

A few weeks later he had to pick his daughter up at the Airport. Cocoa was havng a bad time. I’d turned a small fan on her as she was panting heavily laying there and nearly considered calling our Vet. But it was a Sat. Night. I was in the other room when my husband came in. He did his usual greeting with Cocoa and I always leave them alone (some men get embarassed being affectionate with their pets.) After awhile the greeting time seemed to long to me. I went in to see them and asked how are things? He said she’d done a little ball of “poop” and he’d cleaned that up and was telling her it was alright. I asked him how was she when you came in. He said, same as usual. She lifed her head and looked at me and wagged her tail. I said , “Good”. Then I took a look at Cocoa. I could tell something was wrong! I got on the floor and talked to her–NO response, then, took a deep breath and tried my best to think. I told him to get the stethoscope and I put my mouth on hers and tried mouth to mouth on her not sure how to do this–all the while no responses from her. He called and left a message for our Vet as I continued trying to know what to do for this dog. I tried the people things like the Heimlich thinking she could have choked, used an Amonia Ampule thinking she’d fainted or might be in shock. Through all this her beautiful brown eyes were open and we thought any minute she’d be well and wagging. I was so frustrated with myself for not knowing how to handle this or help her I feel it now as I write. We got her bed and gently layed her in it talking to her all the while both of us were. At some point she’d passed her urine and bowels. I gulped and he covered her and layed beside her. I could hear his sobs and crying. We both knew from Sunshine this happens when the dog’s life is no more. Yet, I’m still not believng this and called the Penn Veterinary ER. I calmly explained the last 2-3 hours events. The Vet was very gentle with me and asked, “did she get incontinent?” I softly replied Yes, she did. He said, “I am so sorry maam, it seems your dog is gone.” The very words no pet lover want to think about or hear.
It seems she waited for her beloved Master to return home to her and greet him one last time.

I’m not the crying type of woman. Tears never do come easily for me. I left Cocoa and my husband cradling her and crying in the Living room and I went outdoors to the place we’d layed in the rain in the yard. I cried tears there for her. Awhile later my husband called me and said our Vet called and would come by in the morning to take Cocoa. I went indoors in disbelief this all had happened. (Our Vet had told us most animals don’t die on their own, she wished they would. She dislikes Euthanasia too. So, even though this has been 5 years ago now august passed, I still see this whole event. I also am in awe of the bond my husband and this starved, stray “stinky” dog had for each other–more so with Cocoa’s devotion to him.)

So, this is the brief version of it all. I am curbing my emotions with more detail but the feeling are there for both of us. My husband framed a picture of our fattened, healthy stray and put her name tags & licenses with it along with the lovely domed box our Vet had her ashes put in. We still miss her specialness and I see a tear once in awhile when he brings her favorite tennis ball down.

Since having had Cocoa we eventually did get a Rescue dog. Her name is “Stardust”. We called her that in honor of Cocoa. It is meaningful as we feel she is another Star in the Heavens. Only her body is dust.

I’m hoping you can read this and it isn’t all run together. But, be assured there is a bond between all of us who have lost a beloved pet. Thank you for sharing yours with your Radio Pet Family and letting us share with you.
Joan & Bob from DE