Losing a part of the family

Michael Tortorich
Michael Tortorich is a reporter for The Gonzales Weekly Citizen. He can be reached at reporter1 @

“Do not make the mistake of treating your dogs like humans or they will treat you like dogs.” - Martha Scott

A few weeks ago I wrote about a family dog that would give the boisterous dog of “Marley and Me” fame a run for its money.

I sadly report that Sparky, our adopted yellow Labrador puppy, has passed.

The playful pup contracted canine parvovirus, which caused uncharacteristic lethargy and obvious discomfort, prompting a visit to his veterinarian. Unfortunately, he was suffering and it was decided to put him out of his pain since his ultimate death was likely.

As I’m sure any pet owner knows, it’s a tough decision to put your beloved pet’s best interests ahead of your own. It’s especially tough when you have to say goodbye to a pet you’ve loved and nurtured as part of your family for years.

Sparky was with our family for only a short time, but he certainly left his mark on all of us. Even those who didn’t identify themselves as dog lovers found themselves taking a liking to the playful pooch.

He always seemed to be getting himself into some kind of trouble, but nobody ever would get angry at him.

Regular readers of this column may remember when I told the story of Sparky’s past predicaments, like the time he somehow managed to catch a paw in another dog’s leash clamp.

Being the only one at home that particular Saturday night, I rushed to his rescue and drove him to a 24-hour animal clinic.

It seems we’ve all bonded in a way with Sparky through his troubles. As pet owners know all too well, dogs seem to find themselves in the the craziest situations.

Now that one of our family dogs is gone, I already feel a greater sense of appreciation for our other pets. Any time I lose someone from my life, I gain a new perspective on my relationships with others. The same goes for pets.

Just like people, pets only get one life to live. Many pets have short life spans relative to people, but in that time, a strong bond can be built.

In Sparky’s case, he wasn’t a designer breed and he didn’t come with any fancy papers declaring him to be full-bred. None of that mattered. He, just like most of the dogs at the animal shelters, was a good dog with a lot of love to share.

Our pets share our lives. They share our homes, our good times and our bad. And they always seem to pick up on our feelings.

When anyone sets foot on the property, they let the whole house know about it.

When we eat, they sit on their best behavior in the hope of eating, too.

When we play, they give it their all and play along with us.

And when we sleep, they snuggle up with us.

Dogs are a part of the family.

My family may have lost a great dog, but we’ll never forget him.

We’ll all miss you, Sparky.