Monday, November 5, 2007

Good Bye to an Old Friend

This past weekend was a very tough weekend emotionally. We euthanized our dog Sparky. He was almost 15-years-old and was losing his battle with what the doctor called "the spins." The reason we decided to take the route we did was our other two dogs could sense that Sparky was sick and were aggressively attacking him on a daily basis. Sparky did not deserve to die that way. He was a tremendous watchdog and a great companion over the 14+ years he was part of our family.

Here are some of my favorite anecdotes about Sparky.

We got Sparky when we were in New Jersey. Sparky flew in an airplane to get back to the west coast (how many other dogs can say they flew in an airplane?) I got bumped from my plane, but Sparky did not. When I finally arrived in California and went to get Sparky, the handlers were very happy to see me because Sparky broke out of his carrier and was running around the hanger. He figured he had been in the cage long enough and since they were not going to let him out, he let himself out.

Speaking of letting himself out - Sparky was very adept at letting himself out of most any room; it did not matter the kind of handle. We were living in an apartment that was across the street from a park. For a few days in a row, we kept finding Sparky at the park. We found out that Sparky was opening the door with his nose. We had to change the handle to a round nob from the push up or pull down handle, because the door would unlock itself when you opened it from the inside. On a tangent, one of the tricks that Sparky learned was to go down the slides at the park. Sparky loved going to the park and going down the slides. The little kids enjoyed it too, until he cut in line and would go down the slide without waiting his turn.

Sparky loved going for rides in the car. Oh did he love it. When he was young, he would jump into the car through the open window. If we were going somewhere and said ride -and we did not intend on taking him, we had another thing coming - if he got in the car, he would not get out until we took him at least around the block. He got so excited. We decided that we would spell the word "ride" when we did not plan on taking him - silly us, after spelling it a few times, he learned what r-i-d-e spelled. We had to spell it backwards so he did not know what we were talking about.

Sparky loved three things more than anything else to consume. Yes, I did mean consume and not eat. Sparky loved tuna fish and coffee - light and sweet. Sparky was one of the few dogs I have ever encountered that would actually share food - except for his tuna fish and coffee. The last item I will talk about shortly.

Sparky was a border collie - German shepherd mix. He was a land dog that would herd. Well, at least that is what the book says he is supposed to do. Sparky loved the water. He knew how to swim and loved to do it in his younger years. We used to have a natural pond of sorts by one of the places we lived that we would bring Sparky. The pond was not exactly clean; it had wood, branches and an old tire in it. Sparky would bring stuff to us out of the pond, and we would toss it back in and he would bring it back. After a few runs of this, Sparky got tired of us tossing things back into "his" pond and he started bring the stuff to the other side of the pond. He was cleaning it out. He wanted his pond clean.

Sparky was "the" watchdog. The other dogs would bark at just about anything. Sparky would only bark if there was something to be concerned about. Unless Sparky barked, I would not go check on what the dogs were barking at.

Last, but not least, Sparky loved his treats. We had the treats in the pantry in the hallway. Remember when I said he could open doors? Well, we put a child gate up to keep the dogs from running up to the front door as well as keeping Sparky out of the pantry, because he knew where his treats were. It was quite humorous to watch him open the door, get into the bag of treats and take one treat at a time. He would finish the treat and go back for another one.

Sparky was a wonderful dog, and a wonderful companion. He was so happy to see us come home and would do a happy dance. He will be missed and will always hold a special place in my heart.

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