Tale of Tails: Sweet Sally Brown
I don’t write about our Sally too often. Not sure why, but I tend to think about her a lot this time of year as we lost Sally four years ago on Memorial Day weekend. It was pretty devastating for both of us. Actually, that’s probably why I don’t write about her much, I still miss her every day.
We moved to California in 1995 from Manhattan. We were glad to be out of that rat race, to own a home with a yard and the first thing I wanted to do was get a dog. Both of us were lab lovers, so it seemed an easy decision. We found a breeder in Riverside and my sister and I went out to meet the mom, dad and pups. The pups were only 5 weeks when we first met them, so we couldn’t bring one home, but it was good to see their environment, meet the parents and pick one out. I wanted a male, but Steve wanted a female. He was a little resistant to the idea of a dog as he knew he would lose his heart immediately, so I gave in and we agreed on a female. Deciding on her name was a whole other story, for another day, suffice to say we named her Sally, with her full AKC name as Sweet Sally Brown.
We brought Sally home a few weeks later. For the first 12 hours or so Steve was apprehensive – I think he was worried he would break her. Then she followed him out to his gym he had in the garage and jumped on his chest as he was doing his sit-ups and just started licking his face. That was it, he lost his heart to her from that moment on and Sally was his ‘heart dog’.
We have countless memories of fun, scary, hilarious and anxious times with Sally over the 14 years she was in our lives. She did everything & went everywhere with us. She loved other dogs, other people – she was a lab through and through. She loved food, water, fetch and us. She tolerated her brother Tino, loved her boyfriend Rudy and played endless games of biteface with her girlfriend Lucy.
Sally had many orthopedic issues, some came from a tendency in labs for dysplasia, some came from her shall we say, exuberance for life and tendency to overdo. She had two ACL surgeries and surgery for elbow dysplasia. As a result of all this, she also developed arthritis and was pretty gimpy, limping around most of the time as she got into her senior years. She was on supplements, glucosomine and adequan for years as well as pains meds. We also had her in physical therapy and acupuncture…all of which seemed to help her and ease her discomfort. We got steps so she could get in and out of the bed and sofa more easily and we built a ramp down to the yard since stairs were a real issue. Yes, we spoiled her, but she paid us back immeasurably every day.
On the Saturday of Memorial Day 2009, I took the dogs for their walk in the am and then went to the gym to my spin class. When I came home, Sally wasn’t at the door to greet me. Odd, but I thought maybe she’d gone out back for a pee or a walk-about. I knew she would hear the car and come in to say hello. I called her, no response. I started down the hall to the back door and there she was, standing in the hallway, frozen, with a look of fear & pain in her eyes…
I don’t want to go into the gruesome details of that weekend. Suffice to say, at the end of the weekend, with many tears and breaking hearts, we said goodbye to our girl, our Sweet Sally Brown. I wish I had some words of wisdom or a useful warning about what happened, but we don’t really know. The best we can surmise based on vet reports and xrays is a catastrophic injury to her back and/or neck – maybe going through the dog door, maybe a romp after a rabbit, who knows. But whatever it was, she was in excruciating pain and at age 14, with no clear recourse to resolve it, there was nothing we could do other than ease her passing.
Sally was our best friend. She was an equal opportunity friend and did her best to share herself equally between us. I will write more about Sally as time goes on and bring out some of the old pictures to relive some of her adventures. It’s funny how dogs work their way into your heart and just never leave it. She was like that.