“Go tell Sully bye,” I instructed Mr. Carter.

Sully could barely hold her head up, so Mr. Carter squatted until they were eye-to-eye and told her goodbye while waving at her. Katie Jo and I teared at the moment, knowing it may be the last time our son would ever see his dog again.

Katie and I got Sully early in our relationship, before we lived together, making her our first real commitment to one another. We had just been on the same cruise as the Indigo Girls, and got to know their super cool guitar tech, a woman known as Sully. Upon our return and search for a goldendoodle puppy, we decided Sully was a great name for our new furry girl. Little did we know we’d spend the rest of her life correcting everyone who assumed by her name and size she was a male.

I already had my beloved golden retriever, Toby, so I took a backseat to Katie as Sully’s primary mom. Those two bonded as anyone would hope a dog and human would, and Sully was Katie’s constant companion and adored her master. When we adopted a special needs dog, GiGi, after Toby’s passing, Sully was the one who rehabilitated her scared sister and inspired her health. When Katie and I fostered two dogs during the course of our relationship, it was Sully who led the way for the canines to relax and play. And when our son was born, it was Sully who served as teething toy, bed, stuffed animal to hug, horse and ski boat who pulled a toddler with her tail.

When Katie and I split, we attempted to separate the dogs, as Sully was connected to Katie and GiGi was my sweet companion. But, after each went on a food strike without the other, we brought Sully back to the house and her yard, and Katie took her periodically on long road trips as well as beauty appointments with the groomer.

Sully had never been sick in her life, but I noticed she had an accident in the house a couple months ago and I knew something wasn’t right. Katie also noticed some swelling on her back and took her to the vet, who found an infection, and at Sully’s age of 10, hoped that’s all it was. We treated it first to see if symptoms improved, which they did for a few weeks, but then one night she seemed to pant abnormally.

I asked Mr. Carter to say goodbye before Katie took Sully to an emergency clinic. Not 20 minutes later, Katie called, crying, “We have to put her down.” Hemangiosarcoma of the spleen, a malignant form of cancer.

For Sully it had spread, and the vet nearly begged Katie to put her down that very moment. I stayed home to entertain Mr. Carter, sneaking in the hall and kitchen every now and again to cry as Katie sat on the vet’s floor with her best friend and helped her leave this world.

Thank you, Sully, for being part of such an important part of our lives. I hope you and Toby are having a good time, and look forward to playing fetch again someday with you two. Your moms love you and really miss you.

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