Sweet Pea

Thank you so much for getting the country talking about and reflecting on the importance of our relationships with our pets. I am currently blessed to have dogs number 4,5 & 6 in my home and have stories a-plenty for all of my furry friends but I won’t try to compete with a book length post. In order dogs I have had in my life starting as age seven are: Sweet Pea, a black ter-a-poo named after the 60’s song. Sunshine, a sheltie-chocker spaniel mix that my wife Linda and I called our first born. Katie, a pure sheltie who was Linda’s protector and comfort in the final years with Sunshine. Darcy, a rescued stray from the shelter that is the sweetest and smartest dog I’ve ever known. Misty, a pure Sheltie we had promised to buy three days before Darcy came along. And Chief, a Chihuahua that had been dropped out in the middle of nowhere about two miles from my house which is the closest shelter of any kind out there. We only found Chief because there where vultures circling overhead. He is now in charge. I want to take you back to 1964 and introduce you to Sweet Pea. She was brought home by my sister who saw her at the local store in a box marked “Free Puppies” and could not pass her buy. I was seven at the time, the youngest child and had only heard stories of the pets that my parents had before I was born so I was very interested in the new family member. Less than a year later a good friend of my mothers convinced her to take on a new (white) kitten we named “Snowball”. The two Sweet Pea and Snowball got along like cats and dogs so we had to practice segregation for safety’s sake. Over time they became best buddies. About a year later Snowball gave birth to a litter of kittens and Sweet Pea had puppies soon there after. We had barely gotten over giving away all the puppies and Snowball was with kitten again. This time didn’t go so well. Snowball became ill and was not expected to survive long enough to bring the litter to term. As God would have it the kittens where born a little premature and Snowball died the next day. Unable to watch the kittens suffer my family moved into action. Mom went to the store and got baby formula dad went to the toy store and got eight doll sized baby bottles and rubber gloves to fashion functional nipples and Sweet Pea got into the box with the kittens and laid down to provide warmth and comfort for the newborns. It was a sight seared into my young eyes, molded my psyche and is with me to this day. My little black dog selflessly providing all she could to care for the legacy of her missing best buddy. All those tiny white kittens with eyes still closed snuggling up to Sweet Pea as if she were their own mother. I believe, if she could have she would have gladly fed them as if they where her own. All of our efforts worked, eight kittens not only survived but thrived and as they grew Sweet Pea was the best step mom a kitten could ask for. One time while the kittens were still young we had let Sweet Pea out to do her natural things when suddenly we all heard a noise like the sound of a cat being used as the rope in a tug-o-war. I ran outside to find two full grown Siamese cats near the top of one of the scrawny trees in our front yard with Sweet Pea standing guard at the bottom of the tree. Obviously those two neighbor kitties came a calling to the wrong house at the wrong time. She had proudly done her job as protector and care giver until it was time for them to be adopted out to their new homes. We kept the runt and named her Snowflake and the two remained best buddies until the time of Snowflakes’ passing. Sweet Pea’s adventures in life had just begun. A few years later we had moved to a new neighborhood, new schools and a new routine. Sweet Pea was loyal and well behaved and would often spend hours unattended choosing to hang around home most of the time. In the mornings I would walk to school and she would walk with me until I said for her to “Go home baby, see you tonight” and for years that was our routine. One day when I got home from school my mom asked me “Did Sweet Pea go to school with you”. and “Did I see her head home?” “Of course, haven’t you seen her?” I asked as fear began to rise in my heart. “No” she replied. So we got into the car and started driving the route we usually traveled then expanded our search to side streets and even major roads expecting to find her heart or worse. I knew if she were able she would come home, she always had before. When dad got home we filled him in and the search resumed that night and every night for many days after. My dad added a stop at the humane society to his commute both to and from work for quite some time. We posted flyers and went door to door and nothing. I cried nightly for the loss of my dog and best friend then after about three weeks of daily visits to the bound and other animal rescue centers my dad came to me and said “I can’t keep going every day. I’ve left our contact info all over and if she shows up we will get a call”. I begged him to go one more time and he agreed. I Love my dad and he showed me how much he loved me and his family including the pets throughout this time. He was a great man. That night when dad got home he quietly opened the front door and in ran Sweet Pea. Can you imagine the pure joy I felt at moment of that reunion? When dad went to the shelter that one last time she was there with a story to tell. She had been found forty miles away trapped in a goodwill donation bin. We could only speculate how she got there or how long but she was in great shape and glad to be home. She lived to be fourteen years old and was the first pet I had to decide to put down. I became a man that day when I learned how to love enough to do what had to be done hard as it was I knew it was right and best for Sweet Pea had shown me such great love. Even at the end She made it easy on us by somehow knowing it was time to say goodbye. At the vet’s in the room and on the table everything she did showed us she was ready. When it was time for the shot to be administered she had laid down relaxed and didn’t even flinch she was done she had taught us so much and I miss her to this day. But the love she displayed lives on in me, my siblings, my mother and now in my children. The love never dies.

James from TX