"It saddens to me the very core that my first baby, my precious little bundle of lessons passed today due to Addison's disease. :( Snooker was a handful of beauty and frustration and happiness. She lead me onto the path that I am on today; for that, I am forever grateful. Her wiry spirit will live on forever, leaving her legacy behind with me. It's been a while since I've last seen her, but she was so happy there. One of the best and hardest decisions I've ever made, especially at 11 years old. Sylvia gave her the world; spoiled her to death! There will be a void that cannot be filled in the hearts of all who that girl touched. Dance in the stars, young firecracker. You will be missed."
The story of us all started back in 2003, when I was 9 years old. My mom was just getting the ball rolling on her agility career when I realized just how fun this sport could be. I tested Bailey out, the then 4 year old. She would run for me in training, but was forever a mama's girl when it came to a trial. The complete and utter embarressment of her leaving the ring on me and my desire to learn and play more of this sport fueled my fire within to ask for a dog of my own.
Getting a dog of your own, your very first dog, is a big deal in and of itself, but my first dog was going to be an agility dog. Not just any agility dog, though. She was going to be an agility star! The greatest of them all!
The begging began. For a whole year I begged, did extra chores, proved my willingness to work and train and take care of a dog. A whole year. I'm still not sure if my parents agreed to a dog because they felt I was ready or because they were tired of hearing "Can I get a dog, please?"
When we started looking for a dog, I had a few pointers I wished to hit for my "perfect puppy".
1. A young dog; under 1 year old.
2. Female. Because I'm a girl, too. Girls run the world. Girls.
3. Terrier. Because I was in love with two Border Terriers that did agility, Vinny and Wesley.
4. Small. Because I needed to carry her everywhere I went, duh.
Mom and I went to the FSPCA one afternoon after school. A lady working there asked if we were looking for anything in particular, and after we told her my list, she said "Oh! The perfect dog just came in this morning!" We walked down to her kennel and there she was. My beautiful baby. Her eyes lit up, tail going mad, barking, jumping. Elated joy. There she was, a 6 month old, small, female terrier.
In hind sight, I'm not sure why mom agreed to a terrier. I'm not saying anything bad against terriers, I'm just saying that a terrier is a handful for anyone, let alone a 10 year old. But then again, I wouldn't change our decision. She was exactly what I needed.
We had to wait three days before she was actually up for adoption. Lots of people were interested in her, so my mom drove the 45 minutes everyday to check on her and make sure the staff know we were set on bringing her mom. I think mom fell in love her just as much as I did in that moment we saw her. In the end, they said "How can we not give her the kid?"
It was a Wednesday. I was wearing all orange. September. Cloudy day. I had just ran in a cross country meet and placed my best ever, 11th place, in my short-lived cross country career. My mom drove to the SPCA, telling me that she was just checking up, but I was to stay in the van for some reason I cannot remember. When she came back out to the van and told me to get out, a lady working there came out with Snooker at the end of her leash, with a ribbon around her neck and said "Merry Christmas!" I'm quite certain I cried.
Snooker proved to be whirlwind the very moment we brought her home. She was jumping out of the van when Newman put her in her rightful place and the leash wrapped around her leg and she came up lame. From then on, she gradually got worse and worse and worse with the other two dogs. She especially liked to pick fights with Bailey. It was almost impossible to take her out, as she would be terrifyingly close to taking off my arm to try to go after a dog if one should so appear in her super-dog-sense radar.
But she was so wonderfully sweet and fun and happy and energetic and lovely in all other aspects of her being. She loved people, adored them. She would hurt you with the wag of her tail, lick you to death, sing a song to you if you so desired (or if you didn't). She loved kids and cats, especially her best friend, Diesel. She loved swimming and soccer balls and attacking the water from the hose.
I started agility training with her and although she picked it up quickly, she didn't really enjoy it, I came to realize later on. But in that moment, it was wonderful. I was doing agility with my very own dog, whom I worked for and trained all myself! I was on top of the world! Who cared if she wasn't the fastest, or the most eager or the best with dogs. She was my basket of crazy.
We farted around our yard, entered a few funmatches that my club put on, and so I decided it was time to start competing with her. The only problem (actually, there were many) was that she was so stressed out in those environments that she would shut down and run to her crate. The biggest moment of realization that she wasn't cut out for agility or for life with us anymore was almost a year after she came into our lives.
I entered her into a tunnelers fun run at a trial in Moncton, July 2005. She normally when absolutely wild for her tug toy (at the time, it was a cow milker), but she wouldn't even touch it. She was avoiding all the tunnels. I think she did 2 of the numbered 20 before she ran away, under the fence, past 5 dogs at ring side, found our tent and found escape in her crate.
I cried a lot that day. I locked myself in the van with Snooker and cried every ounce of tear I had, because I knew she couldn't keep her. The dog-aggression issue was beyond our control at this point. Just that past Friday, she bit Bailey so badly that she had to be pulled from the trial. You can still see the scars on Bailey's muzzle. We couldn't trust that she wouldn't do that to another dog. I knew we had to say goodbye to her soon enough.
In the back of my mind I knew the day would come where Snooker wouldn't be with us anymore, buyt the 11 year old me didn't want to believe it. That day came, though. We had Toffee for one month at this time. I had just started grade 6, which was hard enough on its own. I don't really remember how mom told me that she found a new home for Snooker, but I do remember writing a long letter on my special pink letter paper and sealed in its matching evelop to the man who was taking my baby away from me. It was a little bitter, a little sad and 100% honest.
The day where I had to say goodbye to her is a day so ingrained into my memory that it is almost a recurring nightmare. I was sitting on my living room floor at our coffee table, doing homework out of my blue and pink princess zipper binder, in front of an unlit fireplace. My brother Ryan had his friend, Luke over. I was wearing a black and white shirt with a red rose on it and black pants. My mom came to the entry way and said "It's time to say goodbye." I continued to do my homework after she left the entry way, but then I ran. I ran so fast to Snooker. I cried like I had never cried before, practically screaming bloody murder. I took her to the van and locked us in. I cried, I screamed, I held her so close to me. My parents came out to unlock the doors, but I sat there and locked them again. I needed more time with her. Mom unlocked, I locked. When they finally opened the door, I became hysterical. My dad had to forcibly remove me from the van. I was clinging onto anything I could. He put me down and ran back into the van and locked myself in again. I eventually ran out of energy and gave up.
This is easily the most traumatic experience of my life.
I don't remember anything for the next little while of my life. I don't remember if I was angry, mad, sad, indifferent. I don't remember if I cried myself to sleep everynight, if I talked about it, if I told my friends at school about it, if I ate, or if I did anything. I don't remember anything except my mom telling me one night that she had found a new home for her in Sussex. She didn't like the feeling she got when she left Snooker at the farm with that man, so she took her back. She was now living with the greatest gift that was ever sent to us. Sylvia.
Sylvia is the sweetest woman you could ever know. She gave Snooker the entire world. She gave her so much love, that Snooker even started to give her own love to other dogs. (Okay, maybe not love, but was tolerant, heh). It's quite amazing, really.
We were able to visit Snooker and Sylvia whenever we wanted. Every time we were down in Sussex for agility, we made sure to stop by. She was renamed to Pepper, because "she has so much pep!" It fit. She will forever be known as Pepper to her, and Snooker to us. We would get emails from Snooker, giving us updates about her new, lovely, cozy life. And yes, Snooker wrote and signed the emails. Always a good laugh. :)
As time went on, we didn't stay in touch as well, and didn't really know what came of her. But we knew that was taken care of. Well taken care of. We knew she was plump, happy, and had every toy, with a different name, available for her to play with, a yard to run around in and so much love flowing in and out of her heart.
So much love.
Snooker taught me quite a lot of things over the very short year that we shared together and over the years that were spent apart. She taught me the importance of hard work. If you want something bad enough, you'll make it happen. She taught me about perseverance. When something is hard, you don't give up, you try harder. And I did all that I knew I could. She taught me about the little joys in life and just how precious each moment is. She taught me to cherish those moments. Most importantly, she taught me about loss, heart break and recovery. She was just as heart broken and confused about the experience, but she rebounded with so much joy and happiness. It goes to show that when things knock you down, you have to come back up fighting stronger. She did that, so I had to, too. She came back as Pepper, I came back with understanding and appreciation of the situation. We both grew.
She affected Sylvia and I in such grand and different ways, but both with her heart wide open, with their own lessons and love stories. She allowed both of us to grow into better people, to have bigger spirits and stronger hearts.
Mom received an email saying Snooker had Addison's disease. She was diagnosed a month ago, but had since gone down hill and all signs led to a tumor. Even in her final moments, where she couldn't bring herself to get up, she wagged her tail. She wagged her tail, and that makes me happy.
So much love.
It breaks my heart that I was not able to see my precious one last time. It's strange, though. I was thinking of her earlier that very day, wondering how she was doing and was going to send an email to get an update on the Sylvia and Pepper duo. I must have gotten a vibe from the universe. It was Snooker's last breath.
She was most definitely a true, full spirit. She brought happiness with her every step. Her pawprint will be forever imprinted on my soul. I will never forget her little beard and her soft ears.
Keep your soul dancing, my love. Your stars will never fade.