This is a celebration of life. This phrase is often used at funerals, but Sugar is still alive. Reading Chandra's recent post on his own recently departed dog inspired me to write about Sugar while she is still with us.
We took her in just for a night or two, intending to take her to the pound after the weekend. That was 1997, shortly after we moved back to Texas, and she's been with us ever since.
This is a picture from when we first got her, posing with my son who turns 24 this month. She is his dog and he is her boy. Unfortunately for both of them, he now lives in New York state.
She was a problematic puppy. First of all she had epilepsy when she was young. We had to run her to the vet several times when she started having seizures. She had to take phenobarbital for years to keep the seizures away. Eventually she was weaned off the pills and hasn't had seizures in many years now.
Also, she was a real pain-in-the butt little sister to Mollie, our golden retriever. Sugar was a typically playful pup, and Mollie was too old for that stuff. When Mollie passed away, though, having Sugar around was a comfort.
She wasn't alone for long; we soon adopted another older dog, Chip, a lab mix. Chip came and left us after a few years, so then we got Cookie, a beagle mix. Now Sugar was the grown-up dog and Cookie was little sister. Sugar was lucky, though. Cookie has a very sweet and submissive disposition and didn't give Sugar nearly as much grief as Sugar gave Mollie. So they settled in... Sugar was the grand dame, the boss.
At one point, Sugar developed a tumor on her back right leg. Our son, who was working by then, paid for the surgery to remove it. It was not malignant. It grew back quickly, though. The vet said that as long as it didn't affect her mobility, removing it again was probably of little benefit. So we let it be.
Bringing a cat into the mix didn't affect things much, even though Sugar wasn't too sure at first.
Last year, though, everything changed. We adopted yet another stray, Winston. He was such a little puppy but he quickly grew to be quite large. Sugar didn't give up her grand dame status easily, but Winston was just too big and asserted his alpha dog status. Eventually she relented and they now get along pretty good. She is old and treacherous and knows how to get into trouble. He has the brawn to execute her evil plans. So we've cleaned up our share of tipped garbage cans.
Things settled down, but Sugar has had a few health problems this year. She had kennel cough this winter and while recovering from that developed digestive problems so now she needs mild food. Then a couple weeks ago, that tumor on her right rear leg burst and we had to rush her to the vet. They removed the tumor but it was not without complications; there just wasn't enough skin to close the wound, so she has a small patch of raw flesh. To keep her from chewing on the wound, we had to use the Cone of Shame on her.
Amazingly, though, she is recovering and less than two weeks after surgery she is walking on the leg most of the time. For an old lady, she's doin' pretty good. My son is planning a visit back to Texas for the end of this year; I hope Sugar will be here to greet him.