Along Came Sunny

Today we celebrate Sunny’s Gotcha Day – March 30, 2013.  It was a day that I was NOT looking to add another canine friend to our pack.  Our beloved red dachshund, Rudy, had passed away only a month earlier, and honestly, I was still feeling somewhat fragile having just survived the first year without my mother.  I was not looking for a new emotional attachment and I was in a period of avoiding commitments.

My other half (MOH) had been perusing the Petfinder web page and was encouraging me to consider another rescue.  It’s true that our black dapple dachshund, Midnight, seemed very lost without his companion.  I thought that he might come out of his shell a bit and appreciate being the center of attention without Rudy around stealing the spotlight and his favorite squeaky toy.  But he was most certainly moping, despite our best efforts to change that.

MOH had found a little red dachshund, currently residing in northern Ohio, and she was in need of rescue.  Her pictures were cute, although she looked worried, and really who wouldn’t be?  She probably thought she had been sold to the circus.

At MOH’s insistence, we (MOH, Midnight and me) climbed into the car and traveled to Ohio to meet this little red dachshund.  Regardless, she was not Rudy, and I was not ready to adopt her.

Gretel (a temporary label that she didn’t recognize as her name) was a mess, but not in the sad way that I expected from her picture.  In fact, she was running around with the other pups, happily enough.  But as I watched her interact with the other dogs, I could see had a terrible case of dandruff, she was very underweight, her ears were rimmed with a hard crust, she had one wonky bowed leg, and a bulging lump on her abdomen.  I reached out to her and she came over to see me, just long enough to sniff my hands and see that I didn’t have any treats before she raced off again.

“What do you think?” MOH asked.

Any other time I might have said she needed us, but I hedged.  “She looks like she has some issues.  That could be costly.  What if she’s sick?   I’m not ready to go through vet bills and possibly a loss again.  We don’t know anything about her.”

And they didn’t know much about her either.  Their main business was boarding and grooming, but the business owner frequently visited a nearby high-kill shelter and rescued dogs she felt were adoptable.  She cared for them in extra boarding kennels until she could find homes for them.  And as you can guess, she’d just found a home for this one.

Before we signed the dotted line, we took her for a walk with Midnight.  She was more interested in the walk than meeting a new friend and she almost looked like she was smiling as she tugged at the leash and her ears flapped in the spring breeze.

Back at home she checked out the living arrangement and seemed to find it acceptable.  I was keeping an eye on her, however, I was still unprepared when she squatted at the back door.  I opened the back door and made a grab for a leash.  Wow!  She might have had a wonky leg, but she was fast!  Our 20 year old son and I ran out the back door after her calling… “Gretel?”  “Here, Girl.”  “C’mere puppy.”  MOH stood in the doorway shaking his head and our new friend ran and ran.  After a few minutes of chase, I realized she wasn’t trying to go anywhere, she was just running for the sheer joy of being out of that kennel.  Eventually her tongue lolled out of her mouth, and ready for a drink of water, she allowed herself to be scooped up.

We named her Sunny, to be the counterpart to her new brother, Midnight.  And although they had a few early squabbles over toys, they quickly established that she was indeed the boss of him and he seemed pretty happy with that, glad to be a follower again.

Although we have called her numerous silly nicknames – Sunny Bunny, Little Miss Sun Bun, Her Royal Highness, Sister, Sweet Sunny, etc., she has come to embody the name originally bestowed on her.  Like many other pups before her, she does love to sunbathe, however she takes her sun worshipping – as well as her bossiness – to the next level.  As the hours of a sunny day creep by, and the sun moves across the kitchen floor, Sunny follows it – but not without the assistance of her royal subjects.  Each time the sun moves away from the little princess laying in her bed, she gets out of the bed and moves into the new swathe of sunshine, barking until someone moves her bed into the proper “sunny” position.

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Willing to share her sunshine with Midnight… if the sunny spot on the floor is big enough.

In addition to the maintenance of keeping her bed properly positioned at all times on a sunny day, she has other rules that we are to follow.  Midnight is required to give up a premium spot if she feels it is more desirable than the one that she currently possesses.  When we watch TV in the evenings, she insists (through vocalization) that someone accompany her upstairs when she wants a drink of water.  And she is not amenable to waiting until a commercial.  (We finally put a water bowl in the lower level of our house.  This appears to be to her satisfaction.)  Sometimes, when I am petting her, she loses her patience with me as I only have two hands – her preference is apparently three or four.

But it’s all good.  We love her and can’t imagine life without her.  MOH definitely knew what our family needed that day six years ago.  To quote a phrase I saw recently, ‘My goal is to love my rescue dog so much that she doesn’t remember the stupid humans that didn’t want her.’  I think we can say – mission accomplished.

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Sunny – watching me while I type her story.

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