Monday, November 30, 2009

Suzie and Us: A wonder dog remembered

Our Suzie, the wonder dog, died Saturday.

The 9-year-old, big, black Labrador with the knowing eyes, wagging tail and boundless love for us slipped away painlessly, after a week in which she rapidly lost use of her left legs.

Suzie Q. Walburn (named for the CCR song) came into our home in 2000 as a puppy, following son Will into the house and everywhere he went, a practice she continued until she could no longer get up to follow any of us around, no matter how hard she tried.

We called Suzie a wonder dog because she was just that. During her years with us, she was hit by a car, out-swam an alligator and survived a gunshot to the head. The vet thinks that gun shot -- inflicted by a crazed, heartless SOB who knows who he is -- and the remaining shrapnel on the left side of her head may have been the cause of a stroke which left Suzie paralyzed and unable to function.

So, don’t get me started about the person who shot her (and killed her daughter dog Gracie with the same shot or shots on a night we remember as a nightmare) some six years ago. I’ve written a letter (but have not mailed it yet) to the shooter, who never admitted or apologized. He even, with his wife, smirked about it to the police (who knew he did it, too). But this writing today is not about that shameless person, who will pay for what he did somehow, someway.

This is about our Suzie, the best dog ever.
Suzie was a testament to facing adversity with courage and hope, and always, love. She kept on going, loving, serving us, through all the challenges her life brought. A four-legged epitome of persistence and love, Suzie helped her family in countless ways.

Dogs love you no matter what, and Suzie had a Ph.D in this unconditional love. Whatever obstacles any of us faced, Suzie knew and comforted. She’d nuzzle, hand you her paw and look into your eyes as if to say, “It’s gonna be alright. I love you.” If that didn’t work, she’d climb her 100-plus pound self into your lap and comfort you that way.

Even at the end, during the final days when one of the four of us would pet her and cry, it was us Suzie was worried about. She’d struggle to raise her head to see what was hurting us (even though I think she knew) and to offer comfort. “It’s gonna be alright,” she told us with those brown eyes. “I Love You.”

We will never know for sure what happened to cause the paralysis which took Suzie down quickly during Thanksgiving week -- be it stroke from the gunshot wound or a tumor somewhere in her nervous system.

We just knew by Saturday that we were being selfish to want “one more day with Suzie.” Our vet in Birmingham, Dr. Roger Dieguez, who will take care of any pets I ever have as long as I live here, came to the house and helped us help Suzie out of her suffering.

If there is a pet heaven, and I think there must be in some form, then Suzie arrived shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday, with a collar full of jewels, for the love, joy and life lessons this simple dog gave to us.

There, Suzie will run and she will jump. She’ll eat as much Moist and Meaty as she wants. She’ll get to go on a ride every day, her window down all the way and her face smiling into the wind. She’ll bark as loud and long as she wants, and she’ll dig the biggest holes ever. And, in pet heaven, Suzie will chase chipmunks and win the race.

We buried her at one of her and our favorite places, at our camphouse and land in Dallas County, a pretty place under a giant stately oak, marked by a cross with Suzie’s name, and the appropriate title: The best dog.

On Sunday, four eagles soured high in the blue skies above Suzie’s resting place. I know that Suzie’s spirit soared with them.

Rest in peace, Suzie Q, our wonder dog.


  1. Okay, now I'm crying. So sorry to hear about Suzie Q's passing. At least I got to meet her.

  2. This is a beautiful tribute. RIP, Suzie Q.

  3. So sorry about Suzie. She was one of the best. It is hard to lose a family member like Suzie. She will live on through all of you and Suzie stories. Linda