The beloved Chihuahua, Sparkle who has been in my life for 15 and 1/2 years has been set free. Sadly, she had a very quick downturn in health over the past 10 days. She went from awesome to awful. She has been part of my life longer than any romantic relationship I have ever had. She has been with me through some of the most painful and joyful times in life. She has been a loving companion to Kenzie through elementary schools filled with red sparkle shoes, puberty, high school and college.
The story of how Sparkle came into my life is unique and still brings a smile to my heart. You see she was THE gift to Kenzie when she turned 6 years old. There was never a plan to bring a Chihuahua into my life, yet God laughed.
When Kenzie was 3 there was a beloved book about puppies that had to read every night. One of the puppies featured was a Chihuahua. She fell in love with that style of puppy and asked her dad if she could get one. He laughed and said, “No!” She burst into tears. From the other room it sounded like her heart had been cut out of her chest. I ran into see what was the matter. Her father was sheepishly giggling and looking around for clues on what to do. She told me what happened. I looked at her dad and laughed quietly with him wondering, “What in the world?” In my effort to soothe this child before bedtime, I made a statement I hoped would be forgotten. “Baby, we can get you one when you turn 6 if that makes sense at the time.” Needless to say she took that statement as a promise and held on tight to her dream of a Chihuahua puppy for her 6th birthday. Her father and I giggled as we left the room, naively hoping she would forget in the next 3 years of life. For goodness sake, surely she’d forget! Right? Wrong!
As time went on Kenzie’s desire for the Chihuahua turned into a research project for the family. It was precious to experience her father finding the Chihuahua puppy that would be known as Sparkle just in time for her 6th birthday. The day sparkle came home was a surprise to Kenzie. We told her we were going to visit a Chihuahua puppy. Kenzie believed that we would not be getting her a puppy at this point considering we had spent the last 3 years trying to undo my statement by explaining that we already had other large dogs at that time and that a tiny dog would not survive. Kenzie was just beginning to accept this disappointing fate. We arrived at the breeder’s home and Kenzie just sat on the floor with the only grey puppy left and fell in love. We told her that it was time to go. As Kenzie stood up to go we asked her if she wanted to bring her puppy with us. Her smile and joy melted my heart completely. She picked up Sparkle and barely let her feet touch the ground for the next 12 years. This puppy grew into the 16 pound dog that changed life as we knew it.
Sparkle taught me many incredible things about life! For example, it is possible and there is great importance in commanding a presence regardless of who is in the room. She clearly stated what she wanted and even created her own language for us humans. There was a water walk that told us she needed water in her bowl. This was a slow almost catatonic like movement that continued until you made eye contact with her and walked toward her bowl. You would then be rewarded with the most excited tap dance of joy. She would sneeze to notify you she needed to go outside. She had a alarms that had an ascending intensity in order to let me know it was time to wake up, much like an alarm clock. The first notification was the sound of her collar and feet gently pacing around the door of my bedroom. I was granted a few moments to snooze and if I did not make my way to the edge of the bed to get up she would move into the second stage. The next form of an alarm was a sneeze. It would move from one sneeze to a series of 3 sneezes that were difficult to ignore when added to the walking routine. The final alarm was certain to work even on the dead. It was one high pitched shrill bark that had me on my feet in a nanosecond. I must say she never did have an accident in the house. Purposeful peeing with a vengeful intent on the carpet was an entire different form of communication and certainly not an accident.
The communication for delicious treats was just as elaborate. Her efforts began with a staring contest. She always won, at least with me. During meals she would sit right next to me and just stare. I would have her leave the room so I could eat in peace. She would acquiesce and move into the living room. This is where she would silently sit on the couch or carpet in direct line of sight and watch me eat every bite. I would just shake my head and laugh. The moment I stood up to take my plate into the kitchen she would begin her dance. She always sat and waited when told while I was placing the plate on the floor and then she would attack it before I could change my mind. If I was taking too long eating or lost in conversation with a guest, she would give a gentle grunt to remind me to get up!
Actual dog treat request started out the same as the desire for my dinner plate. The difference in the initial treat request was my placement. I could be doing almost anything when the game began; writing, reading, enjoying time with a guest, talking on the phone, cleaning, or napping. The staring contest with a bit of a walk around was the first phase. If I did not receive that message and act on it, she would go straight to shrill bark. It always got my attention. I’d be on my feet looking at her saying, “WHAT!” I swear she would smile at me and then begin this dance routine. This always changed my demeanor to adoration of this dog. In a moment, I found myself walking to the treat cabinet. As I touched the handle to the door, Sparkle would break into the cutest tap dance ever. Her tail would wag uncontrollably while she danced all around the kitchen. I could feel my heart smile as I would say out loud, “You are so cute! How in the world could I not give you a treat?”
She trained me perfectly. When she wanted love and affection she was not afraid to make that desire known, for she would use her left hand to paw at your hand. If you were too slow in the action to begin petting her, she would place her head in your hand. This gesture I will miss the most. I was happy to be owned and loved by her for 15 and 1/2 years. She ruled the house and much of the lives of those who loved her along the way. She is unforgettable. I am certain her sassy self has already getting things in order on the rainbow bridge waiting for my arrival. I would imagine her first words to be, “It’s about damn time! Let’s go get some great food!”
With a heavy heart I said goodbye to her amazing self. Regardless of how much it hurt, I am forever grateful that she could leave this world peacefully surrounded by love!
Well trained dog companion