All Dogs Go to Heaven – Especially Sonny Goe
By Maya Roberts
In the lives of a business owner, your whole life seems to revolve around the workday. You pay the bills, you run the errands, and you coordinate your entire home life right from your work desk. The struggle of making everything fall into place seems to become a way of life, and you do the best you can to separate your private life from public face. In all the mess, you try to create your own workable environment.
As Southgate employees, we understand this constant balance between home and work, and we strive to make life for the Goes as easy as possible. Sometimes our small efforts at protecting them just can’t seem to go far enough.
Today (October 1, 2009), Rusty and Marie Goe were shaken when the life of their beloved Yorkshire terrier, Sonny, was brutally stripped from them.
The Goes are currently undergoing a kitchen renovation at their home, and in an effort to make everyone’s life easier, they opted to take two of their dogs, Sonny and Lillie, to a local dog daycare, to avoid the trauma of construction workers intruding on their home. (Mikey, their other, older, tiny dog, would be coming down to the store each day, since he needs a little special care.)
Business was going as usual today, until around 11:20. The store received a call from the dog daycare center, and we received the shocking news: Sonny got attacked and killed.
If you have pets, you understand that they’re not just animals they’re family.
The owner said that Sonny, our ten-and-a-half-year-old dropped dead while playing in a yard with other dogs at the boarding house. We all heard Marie scream out in terror, “what did you say just happened?” She got off the phone with flushed cheeks and tears welling up in her eyes. After we served several customers she told me that she had to go pick up Sonny’s dead body and our other pup, Lillie.
Thoughts of April 1999 rushed through my head. On Friday evening April 16, 1999, while Marie brought in groceries at our house in Las Vegas, she saw a neighbor’s pit bull kill her beloved two-year-old Yorkie named Rocky. The pit bull tore out Rocky’s heart. Marie kneeled in the street cradling Rocky in her arms, as she wailed out in her pain. The police arrived and we stayed out in the street for three hours while they filed a report, interviewed witnesses, and we waited for an animal shelter worker to take Rocky’s gored body away. Marie and I got no sleep that night. The trauma of the event lingered in our minds for years.
Six weeks after Rocky died, Marie brought home two little Yorkie puppies, who we named Sonny and Mikey—after the names of two of the Corleone brothers in Francis Ford Coppola’s movie, The Godfather. Sonny and Mikey have been a part of our family for ten and a half years.
Mikey almost died four weeks after joining our family: his blood sugar level dropped below 10 sinking him into a comatose state. Miraculously he survived after weeks of medical attention and much surveillance. His little brain never recovered fully, however, and he also suffers from a semi-collapsed trachea (windpipe). Marie and I always assumed he would be the first of the two brothers to die—Sonny’s health has been excellent through the years.
We had another dog at the time named Gracie. She joined our family in 1994, long before Rocky, Sonny, and Mikey. Gracie and Sonny loved each other, being almost inseparable. Gracie tried to love Mikey, but he likes to keep to himself—except, of course, when he’s hungry or he has to go outside. Gracie’s death of heart failure in May 2006 caused deep depression in Sonny. It took him weeks to get over it. Marie and I mourned her loss as well.
In early 2008, Sonny and Mikey’s vet told Marie that Mikey might not have long to live. His windpipe had contracted even more and his little heart had gotten weak. I brought a new puppy into the family soon after this, just in case Mikey died, to make sure Sonny wouldn’t be alone. She’s a Yorkie-Poo who we named Lillie—like Gracie, she came to us at Easter time; grace and lily seemed like fitting Easter themes. Mikey surprised us all by living way beyond the vet’s prognosis. Marie and I cherish every extra minute that he lives. Lillie has fit in well, lending credence to the thought that three pups are better than two.
In preparation for the five-week remodel project at our house, Marie and I decided that Sonny, Mikey and Lillie should be far removed from the chaotic clatter of jack hammering and table saws. Mikey would need to come to the shop with us; Sonny and Lillie could take up part-time residence at a pet boarding center. The attendants at the pet motel assured Marie that her pups would receive TLC. Marie gave strict instructions that the attendants should not leave Sonny and Lillie alone with other dogs. She emphasized to them that Sonny was 10 ½ years old, which in human years is between 75 and 80. Lillie is a year and a half years old, and displays all the vitality of small child. The attendants convinced Marie that they knew how to take care of every kind of dog. We could only trust that this was true.
The first three days seemed to go okay. Lillie acted a little edgy around the other dogs, in her totally new environment. All the attendants agreed that Sonny behaved like a perfect gentleman and they praised his endearing demeanor.
On the fourth day, October 1, Marie dropped Sonny and Lillie off at the pet boarding center with much confidence, as I brought Mikey to work with me. Two hours later, she received the fateful phone call. “How could this have happened?” Marie exclaimed to the owner of the boarding center. The first version of what happened turned out to be false, as Marie discovered that Sonny didn’t just drop dead while playing. Another dog (or other dogs) attacked him, bit through his neck, ripped flesh off the side of his body, and killed him. All this happened in an unsupervised section of the yard. The attendant responsible for supervision apparently failed to do his or her job.
Marie took Sonny’s body to our vet. This pet doctor has treated Sonny for almost nine years, ever since we moved to Reno. He just gave Sonny a checkup last Friday (9-25-09) to make sure our little guy could survive staying at the pet motel. He said Sonny had a healthier heart than many younger dogs, and said that Sonny should cope well at the boarding place. Needless to say, the vet shared in Marie’s grief over the loss of our faithful little companion. He performed a routine autopsy and verified that Sonny had in fact died of wounds from an attack by another dog (or other dogs).
Marie and I will try to cope during our period of grieving over the loss of our precious boy Sonny. Our only solace comes from our belief that Sonny is in a better realm now. We want to envision him bounding in fields of luscious green grass and reuniting with Gracie—and hopefully meeting Rocky, too. The three of them can now play to their hearts’ delight, chasing toys and licking the crud out of each other’s eyes.
Farewell Sonny, we only wish we could have loved you as much as we know you loved us. You were the sweetest little boy who ever lived. We look forward to seeing you again in the next world.