In Remembrance – Sarah’s Dogs

Zorro

January 29, 1996 to June 25, 2007
Loved by Sarah Richardson and her family

ZorroZorro left us suddenly, without any warning, without any symptoms he was ill. He died of hemangiosarcoma, also known as the sudden killer because the first signs it is present are often the last moments of life.

What helped us through the grief was an uncanny and ultimate moment of joy for Zorro in his final days of life. It occurred during an evening walk. Zorro’s walks were always an adventure since one of his favorite activities was investigating storm drains along the sides of roads. At every storm drain grate he would plant his lanky greyhound legs around it and peer down like an awkward giraffe. After a few moments he would look up as if to say “Nope, not here today.” and move on, ever hopeful that the next storm drain would reveal the holy grail of adventures – raccoons! Why the obsession? On the first walk I took with Zorro, on the first day I lived in Chico, as we passed our first storm drain, a roar erupted from its murky depths so ferociously it made us jump in shock and almost run for home. Later, I returned, flashlight in hand, to find out what kind of monster lived in Chico’s underground; I laughed when I discovered it was a family of masked bandits. For the next six years, Zorro never passed another storm drain without looking for the next raccoon. Every walk. Every storm drain. His vigilance never ceased.

Two days before Zorro died, we took an evening walk. As we approached the original storm drain we laughed about Zorro’s persistence and optimism. Six years and not a single new raccoon, but how he loved the search! And then, that night, from that same storm drain where it all began, a raccoon peered up and roared. Zorro was filled with pure and total glee. He barked and barked as if he’d died and gone to heaven. Two days later, he did. Rest easy, Zorro. You found your raccoon. Be free.

Zorro’s pedigree

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Callie

February 14, 1994 – December 27, 2006
Loved by Sarah Richardson and her family

CallieThese photos were taken of Callie in December 2006, ten days before she died of mast cell cancer. She was beginning to fail and, as a final fling, we scheduled a trip to Mendocino. We weren’t sure she would make it to this weekend, and as soon as we arrived her puppy spirit soared. She loved water and ran on the beach as if her body was free of the disease that was consuming it. On the way home we stopped at Clear Lake and she raced into its waters despite the chilly temperature. We had to coax her to leave. Perhaps she knew, as we did, that this would be the last time she would feel rocky sand beneath her paws, cool water on her glossy fur, and soggy tennis balls in her mouth.

I miss you, Callie. Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for being my dog. Thank you for being my friend.

Callie Callie
Callie Callie

 

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Brandy

1997 to July 25, 2008
Loved by Sarah Richardson and her family

BrandySometimes, a dog comes into your life that just steals your heart, even if she’s with you for just a short time. Such was the case with Brandy. The request for us to take in Brandy came immediately following the death of my very beloved dog, Zorro, and I was still reeling from losing him. There was no replacing Zorro. I was not ready for another old dog whom I would surely lose too soon. So, at first I resisted. But Brandy needed a home. And I have a huge soft spot for senior dogs that need a comfortable place to live out their final days. “OK”, I said, “Brandy can come live with us.”

She came to us without toys (we were told she never liked them, or dog food for that matter) and when she arrived in our home she became a toy fiend and food fanatic. Every chance she had she would ask for a game of tug, or a squeaky toy, or would push to the front of the line for a yummy treat. And, she discovered her bark. Though she had never barked before, Brandy learned to bark, and bark, and bark. It was as if she was shouting out her exuberance: “I’m SO EXCITED to be having so much fun!”

On July 25, 2008, our house became deafeningly quiet. Brandy left us. As with Zorro, the dog whose place on the couch she assumed, Brandy succumbed to hemangiosarcoma. I hate this disease. With Brandy, we had some warning. And that meant that we had a final day and night with the dog we loved, enjoying the things she loved. Bark on, Brandy. Wherever you may be now, bark on!

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