RIP Sunny Dog

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He’s just a dog.


The loss of a beloved pet

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”  Luke 12:6

Yesterday, we had to put Sunny dog to sleep.  Oh, my heart.  He’s not the first pet we’ve lost, but he’s the most special.  If you’ve had pets, then you know.  There’s always one that breaks you.

The loss of a beloved pet

Sunny came to us a sad wreck, surrendered to rescue at age nine after years of neglect. He weighed 150 pounds and the rescue actually thought he was a female at first because his, um, boy parts were hidden by fat.  He hadn’t seen a vet or had his nails trimmed in years, and he lived outside in a pasture.  That was probably the worst part for him, because we all know that golden retrievers LIVE for their people.  And obviously food:

Sunny when he was first surrendered to MTGRR

|  Sunny at 150 pounds  |

If he was inclined to worry, which he certainly wasn’t, he would probably have thought that he’d lost his last chance at happiness when he was surrendered.  But my daughter had other plans for him and he came to live with us just before Christmas, three years ago {read more about his story here}.

golden retrievers

We got him down to somewhere around 80-90 pounds, but we don’t know for sure because he didn’t ride in the car–he couldn’t.  So he hasn’t hopped on a scale for years.

We bought a nice car ramp and tried all kinds of enticements, but he just couldn’t do it.  There was just too much damage from being so heavy for so long…he couldn’t jump and he could barely walk.  We found a new housecall vet every time we moved, and tried every pain medication and supplement out there, with minimal improvement.  His pain was controlled but his mobility was shot. (When we moved from Georgia to North Carolina, my biggest worry was Sunny.  His transportation involved sedatives–for all of us–plus a muzzle, a blanket, and several dead lifts.  Good times.)

My husband and son built him a ramp when even two steps down to the front yard became too much.  Sometimes love is plywood and gripper strips.

DIY dog ramp

But please don’t think that Sunny let any of that slow him down.  He was quite literally the happiest, most content dog I’ve ever met.  We wouldn’t have kept him going for three years unless he showed us that he wanted us to fight alongside of him.

He had mad skills.  He was a fabulous babysitter.

Sunny and Sarah

He never batted an eye when babies pulled handfuls of hair out of his side; plus babies are messy, and they needed to be licked clean.  He was all over that.

Until he got tired. So toddlers weren’t his forte since they run off.


As for resting, he had it DOWN.

With the cat:


With the kids:


Snuggling was his favorite.  Next to bacon.


He was the original pillow pet.


|  When a long walk is out of the question, sitting on the deck sniffing is almost as good. |

Water of all forms was great fun; he always loved to swim because it felt good on his joints.  And a bath was equally enticing; he loved being blow dried with the leaf blower.


When he came to live with us, he was obsessed with stuffed animals, and would even swallow small ones whole.  I’m still not sure how we avoided a bowel resection, but what went in always came out.  Sorry, TMI.


After we broke him of the stuffed animal addiction, he transferred his affection to tennis balls.  Especially the Penn 4 that was his woobie.


But a bagful of Penn 4s was even better.


|  It’s a Christmas miracle!  |

And he continued his love affair with food and treats, even though he was on prescription weight loss kibble that required a home equity loan to afford.



|  That’s nice gelato you’ve got there.  It would be a shame if something happened to it.  |

He really was “Sunny.” I’ve never known a happier, more grateful dog.


About a week ago, he just couldn’t get up anymore.  He tried SO hard, but he couldn’t will his legs to work.  We tried different things, lifting him, dragging him on a blanket, and tweaking his medications, but it was hurting him too much.

It was time.

His last morning was as good as we could make it:

We knew when we adopted him that we probably wouldn’t have too many years together, but we wanted to be sure that the end of his life was happier than the beginning.  And as much love as we poured into Sunny, he gave it back a thousandfold.

It’s amazing how the absence of one shaggy, stinky dog makes the house feel so empty.  Harley has had to work double duty to provide comfort.

Fortunately, he’s up to the task.


I think we’ll be a one-dog household for awhile, but when the time comes to adopt a rescue pup again, I can pretty much guarantee that I’m going to go straight for the oldest, most broken, decrepit, sad, train wreck of a dog they have.

For Sunny.



Thanks for stopping by.


Final New Christy headshot 2015




  1. You are so wonderful for taking in an older dog. What a great 3 years he had with you! So sorry for your loss.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss! I also have a rescue dog who s now 16! Every day is a blessing. We get so much more from dogs than we give! Bless you for you kindness!

  3. I am so sad for you. I have a dog and 2 cats and I know that it is very hard when one leaves us. it is more difficult when you have to make the choice to decide whether he will live or not.
    But be sure he is well where he is!
    And sorry for my english, it is not my native language…

  4. I am so sad for you. I have a dog and 2 cats and I know that it is very hard when one leaves us. More when you have to make the choice to decide whether he will live or not.
    Be sure he his well where he is!
    And sorry for my english, it is not my native language.

  5. I’m so sorry for the loss of your sweet Sunny, Christy!

  6. This makes me happy, sad, smile and cry all at the same time. The pictures of Sunny are beautiful and you captured the Sunny you told about in the pictures. He’s running so fast, playing so hard and will be waiting lovingly for all of you at The Bridge. Run free, Sunny.

  7. Christy..just got to reading this post…I am so sorry…I know what Sunny meant to your family….losing a pet is such a terrible state of sadness….You an be assured that he is racing with the wind now. So very sorry for your family’s loss.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss.

  9. Omgosh, I’m soooo sorry for your loss, your words brought tears to my eyes 🙁 he sounds reaaeaelly. Special.

  10. Oh, Christy, I am crying as I type this. Thank you for sharing the love–your love for Sunny and his love for y’all. Bless you as you grieve.

  11. So sorry for your loss….I’ve helped our four-legged family members over the Rainbow Bridge, each time a losing a piece of my heart. Sunny had the best that life could give him in his latter years…I know he’ll be running around on his mended legs waiting for your arrival at the Bridge. Bless you…

  12. Although I knew he was not doing well, this still made my eyes leak. Such a beautiful and precious boy! At least you know that the past 3 years were the best years of his life. It doesn’t matter how long we have them, it’s never long enough. My heart goes out to you and your family ~ there’s such a void when our fur babies are gone.


  13. Oh, I know I know I know. So sorry for your loss. Mine is 16. That special dog above all dogs. Can’t imagine life without her.

  14. Linda Pemberton says

    Bless his sweet heart and soul, for I know they were huge. A more beautiful dog I’ve never seen.God bless Sunny and all your family.

  15. This makes my heart hurt! Praying for you and your family, and also so thankful that you were able to give Sunny a few great years!

  16. My heart cries for your family on the lost of your precious friend and I know how you feel. I truly believe my life was so much richer because of my two Cairn terriers and so was yours because of Sunny. Your happiest memories are from the unconditional love you both gave so willingly. Thank you and your family for all the love and kindness you gave to Sunny. He is now romping across the Rainbow Bridge without pain along with my Brady and Casey waiting for the day when he will see you again. I have to believe that to bear the pain of their loss. JudyC

    • Judy–
      My mom had cairn terriers (three) and they are lovely dogs; I’m so sorry about your pups. It’s so hard to lose them, isn’t it? But so worth it for the love they bring us! Thanks so much for your kind words–Christy

  17. Ohhh my heart goes out to you and your family. I still miss my dog that I had to put to sleep due to kidney failure 2 years ago. he will live on in your memories. He is at the rainbow bridge waiting for when it’s your time. In the meantime he is romping around with other pets waiting at the rainbow bridge. No more pain just youthful energy and agility, Hugs to you all.

  18. Christy, I am so sorry for losing Sunny. We had to put down our 14 year old Dalmation Dooley and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. That’s been 13 years ago and the memory still makes me cry as I’m doing right down for your family. Our sweet lab Layla will be 12 next month and even though she still acts like a puppy, I know we only have her for a few more years and I already dread the thought of not having her beautiful; brown eyes. What a beautiful gift God gave us when He made dogs.

    • Carol–you are so right–they are a beautiful gift and they teach us so much about life and love. I’m so sorry that you’ve lost a pup, too, but so appreciate your kind words and thoughts!

  19. Courtney H. says

    Oh, so sad. Tears….There is nothing like a golden’s eyes telling you how much they love you. And it’s even harder when you can sense the pain in them as well. We had to put our golden down Christmas of 2014 and just as you said, she feasted on the best we could give her. She had kidney failure and was on expensive food that broke the bank and near the end, we said–FORGET IT! Give her steak and bacon and what she wants. The food isn’t going to save her anyway. We were fortunate enough that Santa brought us a new golden retriever for Christmas and the kids are loving every second. Us adults are loving….most of it!

    • How lovely, Courtney, both the wonderful farewell you gave your golden and the fact that you have a new one! So glad that you have a new family member to fill the empty places and love you all the way only a dog can love you!

  20. Holly Walters says

    I’m so sorry for the pain you’re feeling from losing Sunny. What a sweet, wonderful dog for you to have loved and an equally wonderful family for him to love. Letting go of a member of the family is hard enough without it being someone who loved you unconditionally and enriched your lives so completely. My prayers for you and your family. May all the memories you have of Sunny sustain you. All his pain is gone and he can run like the wind and swim up a storm now.

  21. I’m sorry for your loss. Sunny did win the doggy lottery when he became part of your family. I, too, have an elderly golden and he is a wonderful part of our family.

  22. Oh, my goodness…I am crying now. We have been there many times. We are animal rescuers and have a houseful of both dogs and cats. I am so very sorry.

  23. Oh I am so sorry to read this. I do love the picture of Sunny with all the tennis balls. For a dog it doesn’t get any better than that. Again I am so sorry.

    • Thanks, Jordan. I have been missing him terribly this week, but I keep thinking that we did everything we could to make his last years (and days) wonderful and I know he appreciated it. And the tennis balls. 🙂
      Thanks for writing–

  24. I’m so sorry Christy! Our dogs become such a special part of our family. I am sure Sunny knew how much he was loved and was thankful for all of the TLC you gave him. And the tennis balls…. my dog does the same thing! 🙂

  25. Lindsay Vrabic says


    I am sitting her sobbing reading this story. Not sure if you remember me but I was the foster mom of Harley. I remember when you adopted Sunny. You guys gave him such a good life. I know that he will be missed. But thank you for loving him.

    I know Harley has big paws to fill but I know he will rise to the occasion.

    Hope all is going well.

    • Lindsay–Yes, I absolutely remember you! Harley escaped that day and y’all were chasing him around the neighborhood when we came to visit. He has been the BEST dog! He and Sunny were just perfect together and he’s a bit lost without his friend. Fortunately, he has a German Shepherd girlfriend down the street who comes to visit and play daily. Thanks so much for your tears for Sunny dog. He was one of a kind. Sending you all the very best–Christy

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