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SCOTT DREYER: Life Lessons From “Sookie”

Dale Grgurich is a friend who recently recently lost his beloved dog and hiking buddy, Sookie. Here is his story and some “life lessons” Sookie taught all who knew her.



Sookie was our first dog. In 2012, after a lot of family discussion with my wife Terrie and daughter Becky, we got Sookie, an eight-week-old female Golden Retriever. Our lives changed. We adjusted to our new lives with Sookie. She was mischievous, but eager to please us. Sookie had no expectations and delighted in every treat. Sookie was a
gentle soul; it was her instinct to be kind and supportive to young and old. I never had any apprehension when she was with children. She trained us, we tried to train her, she
loved us, we loved her, and our family became dog people.

After eleven years, on September 2, our precious Sookie died. It was frustrating to watch
her suffer and now I am mourning. Mostly, I miss her but I am also reflecting on her life.
Sookie taught us a lot, below are lessons, teachings from Sookie:

  • Live in the present – There are times to prepare for the future and the past is part of who you are, but live in the present. Everything that is accomplished and experienced is now, life is here and now. Sookie lived every moment in the present. Sookie paid attention to details. She could hear us talking and interpret, bath, treat, lunch, breakfast, cats, drive, walk, and others. Sookie understood a lot of our language. She was always aware of her surroundings and ready to play, to experience life. She did not dwell on the past or worry about the future. SQUIRREL!
  • Suffering is ours – the last few months Sookie was in pain. She was no longer a young pup, but an aging, ailing dog. Our vet tried different medications, acupuncture, and supported our suffering precious pup, but in the end the pain was hers. Pain, physical or emotional, is an individual burden. I felt compassion and wanted to ease her pain, but help was limited. We all have burdens; we carry emotional and physical scars. Ask for help and it may come but, in the end, bottom line, suffering is yours.
  • Be grateful – Sookie found the positive. When a tree fell in our yard, she played among the branches. Most of our lives we choose our attitude. Choose to open your heart be glad to be alive. Appreciate the small things. There is always a good stick to chew.
  • Do not waste a chance for a good greeting – No one has ever been as glad to see me as Sookie. After work, coming home from anywhere, she was elated to show her love. Enthusiasm is the God within. Her joy at connecting to friends, other dogs, family members, was genuine, in the open, and appreciation was fully given. When you get together with those you love, roll on the floor with your feet in the air.
  • Play every day – Sookie, in her last days, barked at deer in the yard and took toys from the cats. She lived to play. She had a playfulness her entire life. Sookie played in the snow, rolled down hills. She carried toys around the house. Most nights, Sookie would take a toy for a walk down the hallway then bring it back to lay and chew.
  • Love unconditionally – Sookie loved everyone she saw, every dog, child, adult, was a chance to make a friend. Her love was felt by the look in her eye, her expression of appreciation, a desire to connect, and to be with you.

Our neighbor’s dogs still look for Sookie. Those who knew her are adapting to life now that Sookie has died. She left a hole in our lives. We will never be able to replace our precious Sookie. We will mourn, reflect, miss our dog, use our  lessons, and yes, get another dog.

After all we are dog people now.

–Dale Grgurich, Troutville

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