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Important Love--Sparky the Dachshund

It's been a tough(er) few days. Loss during pandemic . . . sucks. I don't often use this word--but I think it's appropriate today.

Yesterday, Sparky the Dachshund, the Sparkster, Sparkle-D, Sparkorella, Little Man, Milk Dud . . . a dog known by many names, passed away at 14 years of age. Last week, we discovered an inoperable tumor, and yesterday, we laid him to rest in the garden.

We got Sparky after searching, without luck, for a rescue dog on Whidbey Island in 2006. I said I'd never buy a dog, but one day, we saw a blurry little picture posted on the bulletin board at the Red Apple Market in Coupeville: Miniature Dachshunds for sale. We visited, and we found only two little boys remaining for sale—one of whom was Sparky. Luke named him because Luke couldn’t say his “R’s,” and when he said, “Spawky,” it was too cute to ignore. A few weeks later, we picked Sparky up, and his mom chased our car down the driveway. She didn’t want to let him go. Over 14 years, we learned why.

Sparky, the kind—Sparky the hungry--Sparky, the fighter--Sparky, the quick--Sparky, the one who served as companion and helping dog to anxiety-ridden Othello--and perhaps to me as well! Sparky who taught Ayana and Mika, previously terrified of dogs, how to love a dog with great fervor. Sparky the Dachshund was a lap warmer, a yard protector and a chicken poop janitor. Sparky was the little old man brother to Luke and the dear, sweet baby to Sam.

And to me, he was 14 years a companion and dear soul and one of my creative inspirations. I keep telling myself that I shouldn’t be heartbroken. Sparky was a dog—and it was his time. Whatever. My dogs are my glimpse of God—they are pure love. Sparky taught me to love better, more fully. More selflessly. He also taught me that sometimes, it's okay to have seconds at dinner--or thirds--or perhaps a whole bag of groceries while sitting in the car. And to take a nap in the sun sometimes.

And he leaves with me the fighting spirit, which reminds me that I've allowed my own to diminish over the years. He has left me with his "Get off my front porch" scolding voice, so that, when I become discouraged--about a piece of bad art or a whole week of bad art, about a grand idea gone wrong (a failure) or discovering yet another weakness in my body or mind or this world or a loss (and they seem to be accumulating these days)--I also become toughter. Both of us have some good German engineering in us. Sparky the Mercedes. And Sarah, the VW Westfalia (or so I'd like to be!).

So I am I heartbroken, yes. But I am fortified as well. And feeling creative.

Thanks, Sparky the Dachshund. I love you.

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