Many years ago, a precious tiger-striped dog wandered into the yard. We didn’t adopt her; rather Sandy, as we decided to call her, adopted us. Growing up in the country, this isn’t too unusual an occurrence, and we’ve had several good dogs through the years. All of our adoptees were yard dogs; nobody was allowed in the house (well, there were a couple rare exceptions on freezing nights), but Sandy truly LOVED being a yard dog! She was so happy outside, just lazing around (unless she was treeing the cats!) under the shade of the dogwood, and being our wonderful protector when the coyotes or other strays she didn’t like would get a bit too close.

But my sister and I grew up and moved away, so Sandy migrated next door to my grandparents house. She and Granddad became best of friends; you wouldn’t see Granddad working in his garden or walking around the yard and “Sandy-dog” or “Sandy-girl” not be by his side.

My Nana and Granddad

Several years back, it was decided that Nana and Granddad (my mom’s parents, btw) could no longer live on their own, so they went and lived with my uncle and aunt in north GA, and Sandy went too. Just earlier this year (February or March), it got to the point that Nana and Granddad needed assisted living. But Granddad insisted that if they were going to move into assisted living, it be in the facility back here. So Sandy-dog came back home, back to our yard, and provided lots of joy to a little boy named Teddy.

Sandy, being up in years – we’re assuming 13-15, had been getting a LOT slower, but she was still a roaming dog; had to make sure her territory was safe! Once this summer (her collar still had my uncle’s info on it) he called to tell us he’d received a call from a gas station in the next town, the one across the street from the grocery store, and would we please go pick her up. At this point, Sandy had been missing about 2 weeks, and we just assumed she’d gone on to her eternal doggy reward. No, Sandy went to find Granddad – she was only 3 blocks away!

Not quite one month ago (September 8th), Granddad passed away. But even while in the assisted living place, he’d be thinking about Sandy; more than once he came over to just bring her his lunch scraps. All the grands and great-grands loved Sandy-dog (she’d let a kid do just about anything), and it’s hard to think of Granddad in recent years and not think of Sandy; they were just always together.

Well, yesterday, Sandy was in a car accident. She was a very brave dog as Teddy and Uncle Jason took her into the woods,  a boy said good-bye to his dog, and then they buried her. Teddy has her collar and tag (don’t know if you can see from the pic, but it’s a chain metal collar) hanging on his wall. Teddy learned an important life lesson, and we ALL cried.

I can still picture in my mind’s eye Sandy’s goofy “feed me now, please” dance, the joy – ecstasy, really – you could see in her doggy grin when she had tree’d or rafter’d (we have an open carport) a cat, or even better – when a rabbit or opossum had the audacity to run through her yard! How absolutely dirty she’d be when she would come back from muddin’ – that’s a REAL redneck dog right there! I’m not kidding, either; she loved nothing better than to find a good mud-hole and run through it. Her underbelly and legs would just be covered in mud! She was one happy, content, wonderful dog.

Rest in peace, sweet Sandy-dog. You are loved, you will be missed, and thanks for all the great memories you’ve provided to four generations of one family. I choose to believe that all dogs DO go to heaven, and she’s back by Granddad’s side, chasing cats and squirrels and rabbits while Granddad is gardening or picking up pecans or just taking a stroll with Jesus.