Early Saturday morning my Sparky crossed over to the other side of life.
Sparky came to live with me in 2001…the vet thought he was about 2-3 years old when I met him. Sparky had a good long life. Prior to living with me he had been picked up as a stray and taken to the Humane Society. The Humane Society in Waukesha, WI had adopted him out several times to families and each time the families returned him because of his wild ways. The Humane Society handed me the paperwork from the families that returned him…they described a wild and out of control dog who destroyed things, soiled the house and ran away any chance he could get…rather than get turned off by those reports…it made me want to cry…I was naive…but I wanted to give him a chance. My only other dog at the time, Hercules, loved Sparky when they met and I let that be my guide. While I didn’t believe this then…I know now that every animal that comes in to my life…arrives exactly when it is supposed to…
When I met Sparky he was feral…he had no interest in attention or affection from me at all…and no clue how to adjust to living indoors with a family…he was not house trained…he would freak out and destroy amazing amounts of my things if he was left alone in the house…simple things like getting him in the car were an enormous challenge…but in spite of his wild ways we stuck together anyway…we had a connection and understanding that there were reasons we were together and together we were going to make sense of the world. Slowly over the years Sparky came to appreciate indoor living and family life. This picture of us taken together was taken about four years after Sparky came to live me…we both look so young here…I discovered on this day that despite his rambunctious nature Sparky loved to pose for the camera…I am thinking he new just just how handsome he was.
At a very dark time in my life…Sparky began to completely shed his wild ways and became the most affectionate and loyal companion a girl could ask for…when I needed him the most he stepped up to the plate. He was a constant and quiet companion who would hike with me for hours on end and was friendly and gentle to everyone he met. He turned out to be a true gentleman. Sparky also loved to party…he was always up for a good time with friends (k9 and human).
Eventually, Sparky was the dog that went through dog training certification school with me. He rocked it at school…my mentor marveled out how focused he was and how easy he was to train (so did I frankly).
In his old age, when his body began to fail him…it was my privilege to step up to the plate and take care of him. There is something bittersweet about an older pet…their honest dependence on their human at that stage of life gives us a chance to truly give back to them…Sparky never seemed to carry any sense of self doubt or frustration when his legs wouldn’t hold him up…or when he was confused about which direction we take on our walks…he just looked at me and expected me to give him a lift or point out the right direction…I felt so honored to be trusted and I loved every minute of caring for Sparky. I loved holding him in my arms when he took his last breaths.
Sparky wasn’t just a great companion for me. My cats loved him…he never minded them crawling on him, kneading him, or sleeping curled up at his belly. He can be credited for helping other dogs. His patience and tolerance with our naughty Lhasa was remarkable. He had a gift for helping dogs that are struggling with behavior (most recently Buster & Turnip) figure out how to live happily with humans and other dogs. Sparky’s calming presence was like magic for other dogs…or perhaps a better word for it is grace.
There is unique solidarity among pet parents once we have experienced making this final but most important decision for a pet. There are few other times in life when I have to suck it up and be selfless in such a painful way…for the sake of another’s suffering…it is an odd sense of strength that I rarely feel at any other time. There is a saying…that goes something like this…”if you love…it will hurt…and it is worth it.” I knew this time was coming with Sparky…not just because his health was failing but because he was entering my dreams more and more. I could feel him saying good bye to me.
Sparky passed with dignity…as they say “he went out with his boots on”. I am grateful for every minute that I could call him mine…and I look forward to seeing him again someday on the other side. For now though…my heart is broken as it is hard to imagine the days without his sweet presence beside me.
Rest in Peace Sparky…I will always love you.