Sunny, my beautiful golden friend, died on Friday. He was the first golden retriever that I have owned myself. I grew up with goldens and as each passed in my family, they were just gone one day. I wasn't with them as they passed. Sunny was in my arms as he passed from a long bout of illness.
I think he was the oldest golden retriever that I have ever seen, let alone owned. The vet in NH estimated his age at between 15-17 years old. In golden years, that is an astronomical age.
He was a happy gentleman, always willing to flirt with the ladies. I think he was the only dog that I have come across that actually liked going to the vet. He would nuzzle against the female techs and give them gentle kisses. They would fuss over him and cuddle him with every visit. He would just lay on the floor of the exam room and never complained. What a ladies man.
He was a happy gent that liked to chew on toys and let them hang out of his mouth like a cigar. It was as if he was saying, "Hey Toots, would you like to snuggle?". He was the kind of guy who would call a woman "Toots". And he would crawl right into your lap if you were sitting on the floor.
He was Sasha's best friend and that's saying a lot. Sash doesn't care much for other dogs. She's perfectly obedient and likes to play with little, spunky dogs. Big dogs make her nervous. At first, she and Sunny had some minor territorial tiffs. In time, they shared their space well. They sort of resembled Kermit and Miss Piggy, with Sasha being the flamboyant diva.
Sunny is very missed. The house feels empty and it's hard to imagine life without him. The last year was quite a struggle and you can probably tell through my portraits that he was not feeling well. I cared for him like a child and documented the peaceful moments in pastel. Two pastel drawings of Sunny are hanging in this year's Art Show At The Dog Show. The show opens this week, a perfect memorial to my favorite gentleman. I love you, Sunny.