As you know I took the boys for a drive today and ended up in my old suburb to catch up with my very good friend who has a red heeler called Sunny who was actually Rockys first friend when we moved to our old house.
In the past Sunny has lived with me for a few weeks when his owner went on holiday and has spent a large amount of time round my house. Rocky totally adores him and he is the only dog that Rocky is totally comfortable with.
The first thing that shocked me was how old Sunny was looking, well he is 16 years old but you know what it is like when old age catches up with animals and the sight of it shocks us.
Rocky totally knew where we were going and was crying with excitement even when I pulled up at Sunny’s and dragged me down the pathway.
Brutus is far too big and boisterous to play with Sunny and although he knows and loves Sunny and played with him when Brutus was a baby dog, it’s not possible now so Brutus was kept with myself and my friend while Rocky played with Sunny in the garden.
‘Hello Sunny my friend’ Rocky said affectionately to the elderly red heeler who was doddering around on his wobbly legs looking at nothing in particular.
Rocky waited for a response and looked somewhat confused as Sunny ignored him seemingly oblivious to our arrival.
‘Mum?’ Rocky whispered to me in bewilderment.
‘Sunny! How are you, it’s been ages?’ Brutus yelled from the car.
No response from Sunny.
‘He is nearly deaf and totally blind now and a bit senile’ His owner said to me in a sad voice and then told me quietly that it is almost time for Sunny to go over to Rainbow Bridge.
I stared down at the little red heeler who had a body shaped like a barrel, his legs unsteady with the ‘old man shuffle’, his eyes cloudy and opaque – he was with us but he wasn’t ‘with us’ if you know what I mean. The lights were on but nobody was home.
‘Rocky, Sunny is blind and deaf – he does not know we are here so go up to him and let him know’ I patted Rocky gently. Rocky looked hurt and confused by this but did as I asked him.
Brutus was pulling faces and shrugging his shoulders through the car window at Rocky and mouthing the words ‘What’s up?’.
We had to get Rocky and Sunny out of the way before Brutus could get out you see hence the reason Brutus had to wait in the car for a bit.
Rocky walked right up to Sunny and it was only when Rocky’s black snout touched the grizzled, elderly frail dogs face that Sunny remembered Rocky and realised that his best mate was there.
‘Rocky, is that you?, I can’t see you, is that really you?’ Sunny barked in his rusty old-dog bark.
Rocky wagged his tail looking absurdly happy at the recognition and gently cleaned round Sunny’s mouth.
‘I am blind Rocky, I can’t really hear you very well either’ Sunny said as he stared where he thought Rocky’s face was.
‘That’s all right my friend, let’s go to the garden, don’t worry, I know the way’ Rocky said firmly.
Both boys were led out to the garden. The garden that had seen many a wild game between Rocky and Sunny and even Brutus before Brutus learned to scale fences, a garden that held so many happy memories for my boys and Sunny.
As I caught a brief glimpse of the two dogs, I saw that Rocky was gently pressing his body into Sunny’s to guide him round the garden and Sunny had total trust in the little black kelpie as he kept him close to his side.
Where as when Rocky was a puppy and Sunny taught him everything he knew and protected him, it was now Rocky’s turn to protect and guide Sunny for what was to be the last time the dogs would see each other.
‘Rocky?’ Sunny asked in a rusty voice that all old dogs get when they reach a certain age.
‘Yes Sunny?’ Rocky replied.
You know it’s time don’t you?’ Sunny asked him.
Rocky took a deep breath and delayed his response for a few seconds, ‘Yes Sunny, I know’.
‘I am not afraid though, I am looking forward to getting my eye sight back again and my hearing and I have lots of friends waiting at Rainbow Bridge for me when the time is right’ Sunny said happily.
Rocky tried not to cry, Sunny was his oldest and best friend but like all dogs, Rocky knew that every single dog has to go over to Rainbow Bridge at some point – it is only fair and it is only right and it is part of the cycle of life.
‘Hey Sunny, let’s take you to our favourite spot and we can cock our legs together like old times – I piss, you piss, we both piss’ Rocky said in his kelpie voice.
Sunny looked up to Rocky’s face, Rocky stared back at Sunny’s cloudy eyes, his grizzled muzzle and his face that could tell a thousand stories.
‘Yes, Rocky, I would like that’ Sunny barked and allowed Rocky to gently continue to guide him round the garden occasionally using his bottom to lean in to Sunny to keep him in the right direction.
My friend and I discussed that when it is Sunny’s time to cross to The Bridge, I shall drive him to the vet as my mate doesn’t have a car and if he wants me to be there with them inside the vets then I will be. I love Sunny as much as my own boys so I am happy to be there if I am needed. I shall just await the call and be on hand when I am asked.
Soon it was time to go home and Brutus went in to the car first and then we went to get Rocky.
Rocky turned round to stare at his old friend and then without warning, Rocky dragged me to the car – he could not get away quick enough.
Rocky and Brutus sat on the back seat in silence but both looking out of the window at Sunny who was standing by his front door looking confused.
‘That was nice of Rocky and Brutus to come and see you wasn’t it?’ Sunny’s owner asked him.
No answer from Sunny.
Sunny had quickly ‘lost himself’ in his own head, looking confused he replied ‘Are we there yet Dad?’.
I hugged my friend and said goodbye and as I pulled out of the driveway I saw Sunny standing by the door wagging his tail at nothing and his cloudy eyes staring up trying to work out his position in his garden and more to the point, in his life.
‘Goodbye my friend’ Rocky said under his breath.
Brutus said nothing.
I said nothing.
I cried on the way home and I am crying as I write this because old he may be, and his time is coming but Sunny really is a fantastic dog that taught my boys how to be dogs.
In fact, every puppy should have a ‘Sunny’ in their lives and every dog lover should know a ‘Sunny’.
Samantha Rose (C) Copyright August 2015