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Remembering Sugar

Four years ago, I moved to where I live now. I had determined that I didn’t want to own a pet but I put my application in at the Animal Shelter to volunteer walking the dogs.

That went well for about two months when I was informed that the Shelter had gotten a female in that was pregnant, and she had private accommodations in the back. The time before that, I had walked a white dog, smaller male. I found out that Sutton had been brought in with a female that was pregnant, Sugar. They were purebred West Highland White Terriers and their owner had gone into a nursing home. The sad part is that this owner had used these two dogs for breeding purposes and it is estimated that whenever Sugar went into heat, she was bred. She was five years old and had lived in a kennel, not even potty trained.

I asked to go to the back to see this female and perhaps walk her. Of course, she had not really walked on a leash nor been outside so she was rather frightened by the experience. But I was hooked! I knew I wanted to adopt this sweet girl when she was ready. So, I went to the Shelter several times a week just to be with Sugar and to start teaching her how to live a spoiled doggie life.

On October 25, 2019, I got a text saying that Sugar was having her babies. I spent much of the day at the Shelter with Sugar and her four babies. I went to the Shelter often after that so I could walk Sugar and love on her (and the puppies). A couple weeks later, the Shelter asked if I wanted to foster Sugar and her babies.

Before I knew it, they were headed to my house and I started the fostering process. I knew so little about what was available so we had the kennel that the Shelter provided and food. Even though it was winter, each time I took Sugar out to potty, I also took the puppies out and they loved the snow. Before many days, they starting “doing their business” outside. They were four little balls of fur, so fun to just sit on the floor and enjoy.

All too soon, the puppies were eight weeks old and went back to the Shelter. I kept Sugar while she dried up and really got used to life in a house and not in a kennel. One of the first things I started was her sleeping with me. She wasn’t too sure about sleeping with a human but yet, she didn’t act like she wanted to go back to the kennel. Each morning, I would give a little massage—down her back, turn over and rub her tummy and massaged each leg and foot.

I must admit that Sugar was not too sure about this routine and remained quite stiff during the process for well over a year. Also, she slept down at the foot of the bed.

She learned to walk on a leash, enjoy good (homemade) food, going for rides in her doggie car seat and being included in family get togethers. She was a part of the family.

About a year later, Sugar and I fostered a hospice dog that was sweet and gentle and lived with us for fifteen days before the tumor got the best of her. That was hard! When I took all her things back to the Shelter, they said, “we might be getting some dachshund-mixed puppies”. I have always loved dachshunds so told them I would be interested in a puppy.

When these puppies came in, I got another email and made arrangements for Sugar and I to go in and meet them. That’s when we met Roxi (we named her), had a meet and greet, she got along with Sugar and Sugar thought she had another pup. Roxi was playful; Sugar didn’t know how to play. Roxi loved treats; Sugar had not been interested in treats.

Sugar learned how to play, to have zoomies, to enjoy treats, to want to get that morning massage and most surprising, she began to voice her opinion. I will never forget the first time that she stood at the foot of my chair and “ruff, ruff, rrruufff!” I even look at her and said, “you are talking?” She wanted to eat, she wanted more water, or she wanted to go out in the yard. In the yard she learned to chase birds, butterflies, play with a toad and yes, play with Roxi. Sugar would chase Roxi. Roxi would chase Sugar.

Sugar was happy! Roxi was happy! Oh, we did end up getting two sisters—Maltese. We were a happy family of a mama and four girlies! Last October, one of the sisters passed. Oh, how I cried and Sugar kept trying to get her up. Sugar was still being the mommy.

Life was good for the girlies, Sugar still ran the show but they all had fun together. Sugar was also warm so she didn’t cuddle when we sat on the couch, she had her own spot at the other end so it surprised me this past weekend when she crawled into my lap and laid there. I love being able to love on her that short time and she so enjoyed it.

Sunday night I put each girl into their kennel for bed. Once in a while Sugar did sleep with me but they needed some space at night. At around 11, someone woke me up. I wasn’t sure which girl but I let everyone out and they went out back to potty. They came back in, got a treat and I let them just sleep wherever they wanted (we don’t always follow a routine in our house). I heard nothing more that night.

Monday morning, I came out into the kitchen area and was shocked! Someone (I didn’t know who yet) had been vomiting mucus, peeing and some poop. I quickly headed all three girls outside to enjoy fresh air while I cleaned up the mess. When I called them back in, Roxi and Keeley came in but Sugar was no where to be found. I looked all around the yard from the back step and could not see her. I started walking the yard and found Sugar lying down in one of the flowerbeds, hidden. I picked her up and carried her to the house at that point, thinking she was sick.

She came in, sort of stared at nothing, smelled the water dish but didn’t drink. I fed everyone…Sugar smelled the food and walked away.

I still didn’t realize how serious the situation was. Sugar went out again a bit later and did the same thing she had done earlier. This time Roxi went over to her and then ran a zoomies circle (which was always the beginning of them playing). Nothing. Roxi tried a couple of more times, still nothing. I carried Sugar into the house.

I called the vet and talked to them. There would be no vet in the office until late this afternoon so I made an appointment.

I prayed over Sugar and ask the Lord to heal whatever the problem was. I was also so thankful that the Lord had brought the girls into my life but I didn’t ever want me to make them an idol. They were important to me but Jesus is number one!

Interestingly, both Roxi and Keeley, would come up and smell Sugar and just go lay down. They were unusually quiet. It was somewhere around 10 a.m. that I finally realized that this was more serious than just being sick.

I got a rug out and put Sugar on the rug so she was more comfortable. She was on her side so I got down on the floor behind her and held her, I told her how much I loved her and how much she had changed my life for the better (it was less about myself and more about others). I finally prayed, “Lord, if it is Sugar’s time to come be with You, then take her quickly and don’t let her suffer. If she is to be healed, again do it quickly.” And I cried!

Her breathing started to change. At 11:15 she closed her eyes…I knew but it was hard to accept. After all, Sugar played in the backyard yesterday, she chased birds, and she ate a good supper last night. I started reflecting to the first summer I had Sugar. I had gotten a few chickens that were kept in a chicken tractor. Every so often they would get out and Sugar was the best chicken catcher…quick with a soft bite. Just a few weeks ago she and Roxi caught a rabbit in the backyard.

That last deep breath came and I knew—I cried! As I looked at her sweet face, she smiled and had two final quiet “arf…arf” and then one last big breath. Sugar was in heaven. A friend reminded me later that she was with Biscuit. Yes, she blessed me with her sweetness! I am thankful that our Heavenly Father allowed me to be a part of Sugar’s life.

Yes, I am crying…but I think it is important to tell Sugar’s story. A dog used for one purpose for the first five years of her life…she was used and in my mind abused! But her final four years of life she blessed not only me but all those she came into contact with.

Everything in this life is given to us by our Heavenly Father, be thankful! Never hold too tight and always keep Him first and foremost in your heart! Be appreciative for not only our furbabies but be thankful for each person that God has put into your life, they are there for a purpose! Seek them out, love on them! And please know that I am so thankful for each one of you!

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