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Resolving the Grief and Remembering the Good.

Stephen & Sally – A Tail of Best Friends

The loss of a pet, whether furred, feathered, or finned, is a deep and meaningful loss. For a child whose life has changed with that pet, the loss can be even more painful.

I had heard of Stephen and Sally long before I met them. According to the Pet Promenade Committee of the Westmont Park District, Stephen was quite a legend, having written an essay of “What Does Your Pet Mean to You”, drawing tears to the judges and committee’s eyes. The best essay they had ever seen.

“My dog Sally is a five year old Shetland sheepdog. She is so very special. She had a rough life. She was kept outside all the time during the rain, snow and heat as a puppy. It is a very sad story, but when she was two we rescued her. Even though things scare her still she has gotten a lot better. My brother & me love to cuddle with her and she knows when I have had a bad day and sits with me on the couch. I know that Sally is happy when I look into her eyes and she smiles.”

Shortly thereafter, Stephen, 10, Sally, a 7-yearold Sheltie, and his Mom Christine, began to visit K9 Fit Club. Every Monday, come rain, shine, or even homework, they never missed a Bow Wow Bootcamp. When Stephen was home sick, Christine brought Sally, keeping her routine; Stephen requesting his Mom to bring her, knowing how much she loved coming to class.

Sally, according to Christine, had been so shy and nervous, while at home, they would have to walk her with a leash inside the house. Attending a K9 Fit Club Class was a huge step for Sally. For Stephen, it meant bonding not only with Sally, but spending extra special time with his Mom, and his brother Mark.

The changes in Sally were small at first, but then more noticeable, as the weeks went by. From overweight, nervous and shy at first, to losing 3.5 lbs., balancing with ease on a Peanut, Winning at Wagging Wall Sits or record for Puppy Planks, Stephen and Sally led the class with a bright smile and wag of the tail. Sally became so good at Step-ups on the slanted riser; the exercise was officially renamed to Sally’s Sheltie Slants.

Stephens’s changes were more noticeable, from shy and nervous, (just like Sally) to volunteering for his school for K9 Fit Club demonstrations to television appearances, Stephen’s confidence grew almost as big as his biceps! Their continued friendship and love helped both become more confident. As Stephen said, “Everything changed with Sally.”

“She is my good luck charm. I know that other dogs do tricks and Sally doesn’t but I wouldn’t change her. She is part of my family and is very precious. I think she is the best dog.”

This past Tuesday, K9 Fit Club received some sad news. Sally was not eating normally so they took her to the vet. Sally had an unknown mass in her intestines so exploratory surgery was scheduled. Unfortunately, it was a 6inch cancerous mass in her colon. After a difficult decision, to keep her out of pain, along with the prognosis, it was suggested she be put to sleep. The family was able to say goodbye.

We will miss you Sally.

Tricia Montgomery

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