By: Savannah Morgan

They are the ones we tell our secrets to, the ones we cry to, that ones we would save in a disaster because they are more than just an animal. Many people buy them, but a few generous souls rescue them because no one else will. They are considered man’s best friend,  right hand man, and companion; the canine. Again and again, they prove to be the gift that keeps on giving because they will serve you with everything they possess until their very last, dying breath.

As a puppy, “Bacardi” was found chained  to a pole in the yard of a rickety old abandoned house. Her living quarters consisted of a circle of worn earth and two bowls that each held nothing but rainwater and fly carcuses.

This abandoned dog left for dead eventually ended up with my cousins, a whole new dog, with a whole new name- Skylar. She was taught basic obedience and learned to tolerate a crate. However, the days began to dwindle and the nights long for Skylar. My cousins unexpectedly became parents and Skylar was forgotten.

My cousins ended up filing for bankruptcy and moved back into their parents house. Skylar was locked away in my aunt’s garage in a makeshift crate that she could not stand up in. She was fed the cheapest dog food and was only allowed water when she was let out to use the bathroom twice daily. She wasn’t neglected entirely, but the care she received was the bare minimum. There’s no debating that she wasn’t given any real love a sweet dog like her deserved.

This was around the time when I first laid my eyes on her stocky little self. I was babysitting my cousins’ kids at my aunt’s house when I was told to let Skylar and my aunt’s dog, Haley out. Skylar was the absolute cutest little thing I had ever seen. As soon as I got home I blabbered on about her curly tail, floppy ears, and soft golden hair to my mom. I soon learned that my cousins were in the process of trying to get rid of Skylar. They had finally realized that they could no longer give her the affection that she so desperately deserved.

We ending up picking her up the night after my grandfather had lost his battle to pancreatic cancer.  She was the remedy to my mother’s aching heart and the solution to the void that existed in my life. Life began to return to normal again with a dog, as it should. Every single day she managed to bring joy to our lives. She made us die laughing when she would roll around on the floor trying to scratch her back. She always managed to impress us with her many obedience skills and even had this habit of attacking the cicada bugs that were on our back deck. Skylar pawed and even picked the bugs up with her mouth making them “WAAA” in annoyance. She was always  full of surprises.

One of those surprises included liver cancer. I work at a local veterinary clinic.  When I brought her in for a routine check up, they  noticed she had a lump wedged in the bottom of her rib cage. Alarmed, Dr. Bob had my co-worker Krista take a blood sample and test it for white, red and platelet cell counts. The reports were not hopeful. My best friend ended up only having a percentage of sixteen red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for oxygen production and without adequate oxygen she could be subject to seizures and major irreversible brain damage. With her diagnosis of liver cancer and anemia, she was given a prognosis of just two weeks left to stay with us.

The night of  September 9th, 2015 she started to dry heave and became limp in a matter of seconds. I instantly knew what was happening so I urgently bundled all thirty pounds that was left of her in my arms and  had my mother drive us to the emergency center. Her red blood level was below fatal limits: eleven percent. We knew what had to be done. She died on September 9th, 2015 via veterinary euthanasia.

Her journey lasted 3 months, a lot longer than anyone had predicted. She had her blissful days and her treacherous days but through it all she hid her pain. All in all, that is what affected me the most. The strength that she illustrated was immense. Most human beings are too selfish to even attempt to muster through something like that. That is why dogs are the definition of  perfect companions. Dogs are made to be strong, made to be happy, and made to be carefree. I appreciate everything she did for my family and we will never, ever forget Skylar’s constant loyalty and lovable demeanor she emoted day in and day out.

Savannah Morgan is a senior at Cosby High School in Chesterfield County, Virginia.