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Memorial created 02-2-2008 by
Alan Strickland
SallyMay
August 15 1996 - February 1 2008

The Little girl

In loving memory of our SallyMay whom we loved so much. SallyMay will be greatly missed and will remain in our hearts forever. She was our little girl that was full of love and kisses.

Update 2/13/2008: We'd like to thank everyone who has signed the guestbook and sent us emails.  We appreciate your words of comfort.

 

My little girl, I miss you so much. I was thinking of the first day I saw you…

Sally was given to me by two friends.  They were at a yard sale and the neighbors had puppies to give away. Leigh and Eddie thought me and my roommates needed a dog. When they brought her to the fire station where I worked at, my first thought was "what the hell I’m I going to do with a dog?!"  I was 21 and had just moved out on my own. I only had hamsters growing up so what the hell am I going to do with a dog. But I took her in anyway.  She stayed with me that night at the station.  I gave her her first bath in the utility sink.  She was so small. As the days, weeks and months went by, she was known as my little girl. I grew so attached to her so quick.  She always had so much love. My roommates never got that attached to her even though they were the ones that wanted a dog in the first place.  I felt so bad when I had to go work my shift at the station (it is a 24 hour shift every third day).  She was left alone at the house by herself a lot. So I started taking her to the fire station with me.  Since it was a small crew of just 4 and all of us dog lovers, she was well attended to.  She loved it coming to work with me. But being so young, I did not know much about money, and it didn’t take long for it to catch up with me. There were so many days and nights I felt like such a failure, but SallyMay was always there with the kisses. She knew when I felt down and would always lift me up with kisses, a good game of chase or fetch. We eventually moved in with my mom due to my bad finances. In a way though I did feel a little better knowing my mom could help take care of her when I was at work. By now the fire chief was tired of me bringing Sally to the station. So her and her grammie got to hang out when I went to work .I tell you, that dog loved her grammie and she would obey her to the T.  She really listened to grammie.  Of course, her grammie made her home-made biscuits that she loved. She was always so funny.  One thing I loved to do is if you would play rough or she had a toy in her mouth, you could get right in her face she would growl and show her teeth all I had to say was “do you love your daddy?” Through her snarled lips and teeth showing, here came the kisses.. always the kisses. My first year back at home we had a Christmas tree and I got Sally some presents and a stocking.  And though not everything was food or treats that she could have smelled, but she knew which was hers anyway. She slept all night next to one of the toys I got her. She still had a lot of energy so I started to take her to places with me. She loved Oak Mountain and Little River Canyon (both big state parks in Alabama).  She loved all the scents. She would sniff for days if I would have let her. That was the lab in her. She is a mix of lab and rottweiler. The rottweiler strength came out one time my mom took her out on a leash.  She saw a cat at the other end of the yard and off she went, with mom on the ground in tow. My mom prayed she would stop before the driveway.  She said the sidewalk wasn’t bad, but she knew the drive way would hurt. When I came home the next day you could see a distinct path in the fallen leaves from one end of the yard to the other. After a few years at mom’s, we finally bought our first house in an old subdivision of Birmingham (Crestwood). Here we had side walks for days and even a park we could walk to. The park was a fenced-in small football/soccer field that people in the neighborhood would take their dogs to and you could let them off their leashes and play together.  As spoiled as Sally was, she didn’t play very much with other dogs.  But we played an awesome game of “chase me daddy”. Then we met Wil my true love and with him came Dallas his dog (spoiled too) and a whole new group of friends, all dog lovers. We started taking our dogs on trips to the beach. Dauphin Island in Alabama will let dogs on the beach and there were always a lot of them. I tried to let Sally swim in low tide.  I would carry her out like a baby and as soon as the water hit her little hind-end, her legs started kicking while I’m still holding her.  Afterwards my chest was full of big scratches; I looked like I ran shirtless through 2 miles of thick sticker bushes. We did have a lot of good times there with all the dogs and our friends and family. After 4 years of dating, I (and Sally) moved in to Wil’s house. Unfortunately, Wil’s house had no sidewalks around so we had to drive to all the parks and communities that had sidewalks. Sally girl loved the car rides. She would stare out the window in a trance at everything going by. She loved her walks.  She also loved just sitting outside in a good sunny spot and just looking around. She also loved lying on the bed guarding the house and looking out the big window in the bedroom. This past August she was diagnosed with hip displacer and arthritis. We started her on meds. Since we had a pool I read up on water therapy for dogs as you can see in on of the pictures we started swimming. Also we took our walks real slow and easy, with an occasional “chase me daddy.” After a few weeks on the meds. She was back up to speed and the weather cooled off so no more swimming. About a month ago we noticed her eating habits changed.  She ate much slower, which was unusual since eating was by far her most favorite thing to do. Her checkup in mid January showed everything was fine. Blood work showed nothing out of the ordinary. Then two weeks ago Wil called me at work. He had to take Sally to the ER She was falling over and throwing up.  She was diagnosed with geriatric vestibular disease.  Prognosis for recover was good. As the week went by she started walking again but still not eating and unable to use her mouth right. So every day I’d take her to the vet for fluids and lots of love. Her mouth steadily got worse, making her unable to swallow.  Her tongue just hung out.  We were referred to an internal medicine specialist.  The prognosis was not good this time: a possible brain stem lesion. After that visit I stayed up with her all night.  The next few nights she could hardly rest due to the mucus in her throat.  She still couldn’t swallow. That night I clearly saw the confusion in my little girl’s eyes.  She knew every thing going on around her, but could not act on it. On Thursday the vet inserted a feeding tube to give her her much needed nourishment.  By this time she had not really eaten in 5 days, but just getting IV fluids.  We also thought that we’d try steroids.  This was our final chance. In a way I knew it wouldn’t work by the look in my little girl’s eyes.  They spoke volumes to me: “Daddy, I’m tired, I’m scared and I love you.” I knew deep down we were at the end. I took her back to our vet on Friday for more steroids shots and observation.  The vet called late in the morning and told me the feeding tube is not working, that her esophagus was paralyzed by the brain lesion. I went and got her from the vet about 10:00 that morning.  She was so depressed and scared. Her daddy Wil and I spent some time with her until her grammie could get here. Her grammie was out of town at my brother’s.  As soon as she found out Sally was not recovering, she rushed home on a 4-hour-drive.  The moment grammie walked in the door, Sally’s little tail just started wagging like crazy. Her grammie got to spend an hour or so with her. I think Sally was ready. On the final ride to the vets, Sally rode at the back between me and her grammie, with her head in her grammie’s lap.  Through sobs, her grammie sang “Jesus Loves Me This I Know” slowly to her.  When we put her down, I saw that the vet and the other staff at the office were all crying. That helped me so much to see that everyone there cared so much about our little girl and gave her the same concern and encouragement that her daddies did. Miss May, physically I knew you couldn’t give kisses at the end but we do know you love your daddies. Your family loves you and misses you very much.                       

THANK YOU SALLYMAY FOR 12 OF THE BEST AND MOST MEANINGFUL YEARS OF OUR LIVES YOU WILL BE GREATLY MISSED.

 

Love always,

Your daddy

 

 

From Wil:
Sally and I didn't start off all that great.  She barked way too loud and way too often, especially in the middle of the night. She'd sleep on the edge of the bed, facing the big curtainless window. But I swore she kept one eye open, always on the lookout for deer, foxes, snakes, and our most frequent visitors: rabbits, squirrels and the neighbor's dogs. And when any one of them did appear, it sent her into her fire-alarm mode. On alternate nights when we stayed at Alan's old house in Crestwood, she didn't give us a break either. I think she was even more paranoid coz she couldn't see out, so any noise was her cue to wake us up. So for the longest time I was real pissy about my sleep interruptions. And for a while I was this mad evil scientist, devising schemes to get her to shut up.  It's even worse on stormy nights.  We'd give her Benadryl to try to knock her out. But it never worked. Come to think of it, we should  have long realized its none-effect on her, because towards the end it failed to help against her terrible nausea.
She also shed a lot. I mean, a lot! Her brother Dallas sheds too, but his hair were long and ended up mostly as tumbleweeds. But hers were short, thin, wiry and floated in the air. It wasn't a surprise to find Sally hair in our plates. Frankly, I was always apprehensive about friends coming over for dinner. Nobody likes hair in their food, especially if they looked like pubes!
Oh, and one time she bit me. Well, not really. She just clamped down on my hand as I was brushing her teeth. It was when I first came into her life and she wasn't used to having her teeth brushed. But she quickly came to love our nightly routine.
Looking back, I realized how trivial her imperfections were.  The barking and the shedding were pretty much beyond her control. And while I bitched about them, in time I got used to them. But what I couldn't get used to was the amazement at her ability to show love. And for that, I loved her right back. Of all our dogs, she was the least demanding (only when it was dinnertime) and the most giving. She was content to just be beside either Alan or me. At times when we're at the park  playing with other dogs and their owners, sometimes I'd slip away beyond the fenced-in area to get the dogs water. If she saw me walking away, she'd abandon her game and accompany me. She didn't even need a leash. If I did manage to leave undetected, it wasn't long before she'd realized it and she'd be by the gate waiting for my return.
She never really liked to be petted all that much.  I guess she was always more comfortable in the "giver" role. She was always ready to lick us to death.  We'd put our face close to hers and say "Do you love your daddy?" That was her signal to lick away!
I know to some of you this may sound like an overkill, writing a sort-of eulogy
for a dog. But she was our little girl- a girl who loved to go on walks with her daddies, play tug-of-war using her favorite stuff animal (a white duckie - actually a role reprised by several duckies), and play catch with her favorite yellow ball (one and original).
And even though we're relieved that she's no longer suffering, we feel such a tremendous loss. She was a big chapter in our lives. A chapter that was so full of happy memories and great love and devotion. We grieve so much knowing that that special chapter has come to an end.
Sally, we love you and we're gonna miss you. You'll always be our little girl.
..."Do you love your daddy?"

 

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