Saturday, December 25, 2010

What Do You See?

When I was a sophomore in high school, the Superfecta of All Hideous Things happened:
  1. The dog/crying towel I'd had since I was an infant died in December
  2. My aunt lost her battle with cancer at the end of February
  3. My beloved maternal grandmother died of a stroke at the beginning of March
  4. and, the boy I'd been dating since the previous fall dumped me four days after my grandmother's funeral, resulting in:
  5. My suddenly having no date for the prom

The only good thing to come out of any of this, other than not having to go to the prom with Jeff, who was kind of a twit at 17 (later, as an adult, he was my best Brownie Mom when I was a Girl Scout leader), was that my folks got me a new dog.

Sunny was a Smooth Fox Terrier, unlike my previous dog, who was a Wire Fox Terrier. She was supposed to be the family dog, but I immediately latched onto her and claimed her as mine. I spent all of my spare time at home playing with the new dog, napping with the new dog; well, you get the idea. She was about a year old already, well-past the puppy stage, but I didn't care. My grandmother had owned a Smooth Fox named Kitty when she was about the same age, who went everywhere with her. I decided that Sunny would be my Kitty.

She had some quirky little behaviors that came out over time, the longer we had her. The first Christmas she was with us, we noticed that she loved to go into the living room to listen to Dad's records of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Christmas carols. Sometimes, she'd just disappear and we'd find her curled up in one of the formal wingbacked chairs, watching the lights on the tree. She never disturbed the gifts, tore up ornaments, or made a mess...she just sat there and watched the tree.

My father was quite a shutterbug, so when I asked for a 35mm camera for my birthday, I got one, and it was a pretty nice one, too. It was a step up from the 110 I'd had, and the little 126 cube-flash camera that had been my mother's that I had before it. I was allowed to take as much film as I wanted, and my folks would get it developed without making me pay for it. One day, during the holidays, I got an extremely good picture of Sunny settled into the living room. It became my conversation-starter with new friends in college; I'd hand them the picture and ask them if they could tell what it was a picture of...invariably, they'd say it was a photo of the Christmas tree.

You had to look closely, but it was actually a picture of my dog. Sunny had gone into the living room after my parents had laid out our "Santa" gifts in the wingbacked chairs and burrowed down between mine. They were undisturbed except for the small brown-and-white dog planted artistically dead center- she looked like a stuffed toy. She was just so pretty, sitting there in the middle of my stuff.

I recently ran across a small envelope of pictures from college, including one of my senior dorm room. There, on the shelf directly above my head, is the picture of Sunny. That's how I choose to remember her, long before she became old and cranky, when she was still my reasonably happy little dog.

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