Having a dog in your family is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Having two doubles that pleasure. There is nothing quite like the relationship between a person and their furry companions. To say my dogs, Sandy and Snowy, were essential to my life is an understatement. They will always be my babies; their lives are a permanent fixture in the family tapestry. The love they showed me and the rest of the Marsh family have shaped our lives irrevocably. Until my dying breath, I will miss them dearly, upon which time I will joyously welcome our reunification.
This story isn’t a swan song, though, far from it, it is a tribute to the lessons Sandy and Snowy taught me and the passion they inspired. In the beginning, there was fear or at least uncertainty. When we brought Sandy and Snowy home, the whole house was a strange new place to them. Snowy adjusted quickly as she loved chasing food and toys. She used to eat my breakfast off the table when I would go put my shoes on for school (eating a full breakfast was, at best, a 50-50 chance). Sandy, however, took more time to adjust, she would often retreat into her crate during the day, scared by the attention and all the strange people and noises. If you tried to coax her out, she would growl (with all the ferociousness of a 5lb cockapoo). For Mom and Dad, this would work, they were smart adults and knew better than to push personal boundaries, especially when the anxious party had teeth. Eight-year-old me, however, had other ideas. It was an idyllic time, and I was still convinced that a hug or a kiss could solve anything. To that end, every time Sandy retreated into her crate, I would stick my head in and give her as many kisses, hugs and pets as I could muster until she finally came out of the crate or kissed me back in contentment. I did not know it at the time, but this would start a lifelong affair of responding to fear with love. Sandy and Snowy would always know they could come to any of us for love. They also always knew when one of us was sick and endeavoured to stay with us the whole time until we were better. The greatest lesson from them is the profound impact of unconditional love and the harmony that is created when it is imbued both ways.
Here is a photo of Sandy (left, with pasta sauce on her head) and Snowy (right).
For the second yet equally important lesson, we have to return to the best food burglar this world has ever known… Snowy! Twice a day, she always got fresh meals such as cooked turkey, salmon or chicken with sweet potato, rice with peas, carrots and broccoli. Yet, if food was on the floor, it was gone before you could blink. If you leave the breakfast table, your omelet is gone in under 10 seconds. SPICY Tandoori Kabobs are gone from the table in the time it takes to greet the first guests on Diwali. Our dogs always ate better than any of us! Aerial acrobatics aside, the most impressive was on one Halloween. Sandy and Snowy stole a bag of mini Kit Kats and rotated sitting in the front of the crate while the other ate in the back… 1 dog-sized crate…. One giant heist for dog kind. The willingness to dare for food despite the risks…the perseverance showed me the value of keeping going for what mattered above all else.
I consider these lessons from our beloved Sandy and Snowy a gift. They often keep me up at night, not only because I miss Sandy and Snowy but because I believe they are imperative for me and the world.
But how does one translate such valuable lessons into the world? As it turns out, the answer was found by looking at Sandy and Snowy and the world around them. They received the love and lessons they gave in spades. My friend could testify that they were probably some of the best-treated dogs out there. Rivalled by maybe the late Queen of England and those pampered corgis. However, not all dogs receive this love and luxury; thus, the answer became obvious! An animal sanctuary, the kind that rivalled a city. Dogs deserve their own place to be free and loved unconditionally, too! And to be honest, it is probably the only fitting way to honour Sandy and Snowy!
I am not there yet; I still have a lot to do before I can afford to implement this, but it is one of my key senses of purpose. It has also ignited my interest in climate change. One day, I hope to create a similar-sized wildlife sanctuary because animals do not deserve to be punished for climate sins (made knowingly or not), and most importantly, everyone in the world deserves to experience the warmth and love animals like dogs have to offer. I will not stop trying to achieve this. I love this planet and all the animals in it.
Sandy and Snowy passed away together in the Marsh family home in February 2021. They were 19 years old. The Marshs will always do their best to honour them through their efforts to ensure dogs and other animals live on a planet that is healthy, full of love, and nourishment.
Thank you for reading.