This is a paper I wrote in an English class I took about four years ago. Sunshine was twelve then... I had to put her to sleep on May 6 of 1998 and I miss her terribly so I'm posting this as a tribute to my long-time companion.

Woman's Best Friend

Fourth of July picnic, sitting on the ground just outside the barn. Suddenly, from inside the barn, six or seven puppies tumbled their way out into the sunlight. They were about eight weeks old, and all different colors, some brown, some black, some black and white. They were all tangled up, pawing each other and nipping one another's ears and tails the way puppies do. I looked on with delighted amusement, laughing at their antics. One pup in particular, a brown and black little thing, broke away from the tumbleweed of puppies and tottered over my way. I stuck my hand out for her to smell me, and after she decided I was friendly enough, climbed up into my lap and looked up at me as if to say, "You can take me home now. I'm yours." It was then that I noticed how unusual she looked- she had two different colored eyes, one brown and one blue. This, I found out later, was due to some Husky blood mixed in with her shepherd heritage. For the rest of the day at the party, she was my fuzzy little brown shadow, following me around wherever I went, and making a nest of my lap every chance she got. Her disposition was so sweet sand happy I had no choice but to take her home and name her "Sunshine". She and I have been inseparable ever since that day almost twelve years ago.

She grew up from a plump, playful puppy into a gangly "teenage" dog, all legs, feet, and ears. For a time, her ears couldn't decide whether to stand upright or flop over. One day her left ear would be up and the right one down The next day they might or might not be different. When her ears finally decided on a permanent position, they were upright and magnificent. So large and soft are they that I sometimes tease that I'll snip them off and make pillowcases out of them.

When Sunshine finally grew into her ears and into adulthood, she transformed into quite a handsome dog. She's tall, about waist high, and slim, with a great curling tail and of course, those eyes. The very best thing about Sunshine is her disposition. This is a dog who never met anyone she didn't like. She greets everyone with a happy smile and a wagging tail. One of her favorite things to do is visit my parents. All I have to say is "Grandpup", and she's headed for the car, wagging her tail like a lone windshield wiper gone mad.

Once there, she delights in taking treats from my father, who lavishes her with treats and attention. After a while, he'll let her outside to sit on the back stoop, nose up high, reading the scents in the air to see what's going on in the neighborhood.

She also loves to go for walks in the woods. Once she's in there, she becomes almost wolf-like. Her face seems to darken a bit and it looks like every hair on her body is a sensor, taking in all sorts of information about the surroundings. She pads along, keeping very close to the ground, sniffing everything in her path, but looking back at me occasionally to make sure I'm not lost. With ears like satellite dishes, Sunshine will pick it up if a small ( and sometimes even large) animal is foolish enough to make even the tiniest sound, and off she goes in hot pursuit. It's a good thing she never catches anything, though, because I don't think she'd know what to do with it.

A stroll on the beach is great fun for Sunshine. She loves to find a good piece of driftwood for me to throw, so she can bring it back. This will go on for a few throws and then the lake suddenly beckons to her. She's not much of a water dog, (hates baths) but she will go in up to her knees, splashing around and taking great gulps of lake water.

As noble and brave as she looks, there are times when Sunshine is a coward. She hates thunderstorms; they scare her to death. At the first loud clap of thunder, she turns into "Velcro Dog", trembling wildly and staying as close to me as she can. On the other hand, when I run the vacuum cleaner, she follows behind, taking an occasional lunge at the evil machine. Most of the time though, she is on "standby", waiting for the next treat, the next meal, or the next walk in the woods.

She has been a wonderful companion these twelve years. She has been with me through the good times and has been a real source of comfort during my bumps in the road. As she moves into her twilight years, her muzzle is flecked with gray, and when she's been curled into a ball sleeping for too long you can almost hear her groaning as she struggles to get up. But every now and then I can still catch a glimpse of that little fuzzy brown shadow.

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