Saturday, March 29, 2014

Goodbye Sweet Sanka

Yesterday was a very hard day for us. We didn’t say much because events were unfolding and we were getting information at the same time we were celebrating Arielle’s 8th birthday and we did not want to let the news bring sadness to her special day.

Early yesterday morning I found out that our beloved chocolate Labrador Retriever Sanka, back home in Canada, had been hit by a car. I don’t know all the details except that his leg was shattered really badly. It could not be fixed with a cast and required pins and surgery and x-rays and potentially multiple surgeries and he might never walk again. This was also tough on him since he is an old dog, 10.5 years old. We have always trusted our family and our dear friends who took Sanka when we left that we all make the best decisions for his ongoing quality of life, and we trust them completely as they sought multiple opinions and talked etc. In the end, the best decision was to let him go peacefully without putting him through the pain and immobility and troubles in life to come.

Heartbreaking. Truly, I can’t explain enough how heartbreaking it was for us here on this end. But we knew this day would come. Anyone who has a pet that they love dearly and who has come to be an “old dog” knows they will have to face this day, no matter what specific incident brings it near.

We have seen beautiful, tear filled videos and pictures and know he was loved, petted, held, kissed and cherished in every moment even as he fell asleep forever.

I am grateful that this one old dog had so many people who loved him dearly. He split his life between two families who shared him back and forth continually and he never left any of our hearts for long, and now he never will.

I would like to show you a few photos and remember a few special memories. Sanka was truly a dog that was amazingly gentle, especially with children, and hugely loyal. He never forget anyone and loved us all to the end as well.

We got Sanka as a little tiny puppy at 10 weeks old just before Christmas 2003. He immediately broke through Paul’s “no dog upstairs” rule and slept at the foot of our bed, or after the kids came, in the middle of the hall halfway between our two bedrooms.

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He came to all special family occasions with us, and we even celebrated his special days too. I am not sure how many camera takes it took to finally get him to not paw off this hat!

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He loved the outdoors and water and running and grass and camping. That is one of the reasons we choose to leave him with friends rather than coming to Niger where his quality of life in the things he loved would seriously decline and he would be in danger. We loved him enough to keep him safe and happy.

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When we went canoeing he would jump out of the canoe and swim along us until he got tired, and then he would yelp to be pulled into the boat where he would sleep and warm in the sun until he was ready to jump in and do it all over again. He brought us so much laughter and joy.

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Hiking Heart Creek, Canmore.

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He was so loved by all our family members. We would lay on the floor with him and wrestle and snuggle and nap together.

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He especially bonded with Bennett when he was born. This is a grainy old photo, but Bennett is playing under his play arch and Sanka has his head laying right on top of Bennett. In the other picture he is right at his feet. He would never be too far away.

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As Bennett grew older, Sanka was his best friend. He would crawl all over him and throw his ball and fall asleep next to him. Sanka was always patient, would never snap or get mad, and took everything in stride just to be with him.

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When Arielle joined our family she was very afraid of dogs. While she did not have many months with Sanka before we went overseas, he became the first dog that she would snuggle and put her arms around and really trust.

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Sanka had another member of our family completely under his spell. His number 1 babysitter, for all 10.5 years of his life, was my Dad. He was his best little buddy, his walking and riding partner, his wrestling partner, stick thrower and companion. I am so thankful that my Dad was with him at the end even though I know how painful that must have been emotionally.

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But Sanka wasn’t just loved by our family. Halfway through his life we had to make a hard decision and we shared his love and amazingness with good friends of ours who took him in as their own. I wrote a blog about it here: Lessons and Loss- my dog Sanka 

The Sorianos gave all their love to Sanka and had everything he loved that we could not offer him in Niger. Their three kids adore him, they take him for runs and of course let him eat all the crumbs Smile I cannot think of better people to have shared his life with and I am eternally grateful for them. Any time we were home in Canada , be it for a year and a half recently or just vacations before that, we got to spend lots of time with Sanka as they shared him back with us, knowing there was always a giant Sanka sized hole in our hearts.

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Sanka and Jenn

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Recently we were home for a year and a half and we got to spend a lot of time with Sanka again. He would come to stay with us for weeks at a time. He was my walking partner.

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He continued to be loved by the kids, although in his older age he couldn’t quite run after then for as long as before! Amazing how this is the same boy and his dog from the earlier picture where Sanka would lay under his baby play arch!

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Just before we left to come back to Niger we had him again for a few weeks. We took this family photos with all 4 of my “baby loves” together. I will always cherish this photo.

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The day we left I snapped this photo of Sanka in the hallway. I told the kids to make sure to say goodbye to Sanka as we might never see him again, knowing we would not be home again for another year and a half this time. The kids hugged him and whispered they loved him. I am thankful we got to say goodbye.

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Goodbye sweet Sanka. I cry even as I write this. You meant so much to us. People will say you were only a dog but you brought us joy, you cheered us up in the hard times, made us laugh so much, showed complete loyalty and had our hearts. We miss you deeply. We love you.

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4 comments :

Beth said...

I'm so sorry Chantelle and Paul! So hard to lose such a sweet pup and member of the family. There is just nothing like a dog to bring laughter to a home!

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for this beautiful write-up and all the special pictures and memories you shared. We spent a sleepless night crying on and off and now the sanka shaped hole is in our hearts too. I didn't realize how much I loved him and relied on him until now. The whole rythym of my day is changed. In the middle of the night I went to check on him and I called him and it just hasn't become real yet. Thank-you for choosing to give him to us. He will be greatly missed.
Love you
Jenn

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for this beautiful write-up and all the special pictures and memories you shared. We spent a sleepless night crying on and off and now the sanka shaped hole is in our hearts too. I didn't realize how much I loved him and relied on him until now. The whole rythym of my day is changed. In the middle of the night I went to check on him and I called him and it just hasn't become real yet. Thank-you for choosing to give him to us. He will be greatly missed.
Love you
Jenn

Suzanne Hines said...

Oh, I am SO sorry! I cried all the way through your post :( We got a puppy back in September, and he passed away in November. I've always disliked dogs, until we got him, and now I understand why people love dogs so much! I am so glad that you had so many years and great memories with him!