When my family first adopted our two dogs 13 years ago, Sunny and Laddie, they were small enough that my dad woke up one morning to find them sleeping in his boots outside his door. They were tiny, adorable, and with such an incredible amount of energy, you could just about hear the sonic boom as they’d run by. I was 6-years-old and terrified of these bundles of fur that raced around the house in the morning; I’d cautiously creep down the stairs and launch myself on the nearest kitchen chair in order to get out of their way. We stayed out of each other’s way for the first couple of weeks until Allison, who had been holding Sunny in her arms, needed to grab something and in a hurry she said, “Here, take him.” Before I knew what was happening, I was holding Sunny who looked at me with his big puppy eyes. He licked me on my cheek and that’s what did me in. It was love at first lick.
Sunny has been gone for about a year and a half now, but we’re blessed to still have sweet Laddie in our house. He’s the most gentle dog I’ve ever met; when my mom gives him bones at night, he’s so careful to not accidentally bite Mom that he finds the tiniest corner to bite to take it from her, usually dropping it on the floor in the process. He loves everyone so readily, and even tolerates the younger grandchildren chasing him around the house trying to pet his fluffy coat. He loves it when you lay down next to him and stroke his face until his eyes slowly close. He’d be so warm in the mornings when I’d get up at the crack of dawn for seminary, smiling softly as I pet him before leaving.
I took him on a “walk” last night, even though the wind was blowing so hard it looked like I was crying the entire time. We take him on a trail up by my house and let him off his leash so he can wander around on his own, sniffing every plant and flower. Off-roading Laddie. There’s not much excitement to be seen in our backyard and house, so these jaunts outside are usually the highlight of Laddie’s day. There’s a point on the trail where you have to walk through some big rocks that have a lane between them, a part of the trail that never used to be an issue before. I watched Laddie prepare himself to go over and was surprised to see how much had changed since I’d last taken him on a walk. Laddie will always be my baby, but baby’s not a baby anymore. Laddie’s eyes become more fogged every time I see him and his hearing decreases as well. It’s hard not being here with him everyday when I’m away at college. It’s hard not to worry about this precious member of my family.
When people see Laddie, perhaps they only see the aged body that deals with aches and pains and requires about 20 naps a day. I don’t. I still see the exuberant puppy who sprinted around our house, ran circles around our car in the driveway when we tried to leave, and played hide-and-seek with his brother while the family was reading scriptures, distracting us every time. They’re only a part of our lives for such a fraction of time, it seems.
A small moment.
Sunny and Laddie are a part of my family, just as our previous dog Oreo is. They’re not just pets; they’ve got big personalities hidden in tiny bodies who spend their lives giving love. Puppy love.
Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.
-Agnes Sligh Turnbull