When I was in first grade, we moved to England. We had two dogs: a pudgy, conspiring dachshund named Ginger who was always having puppies, and Fluffy, who was one of those puppies, a good-natured mongrel we adored. England has no cases of rabies in its history (or at least didn’t at the time), and liked it that way. Pets had to go through long quarantines to be allowed entrance. We chose to give Ginger and Fluffy to friends, and went to England dogless.
My mother loves dogs, so it was probably inevitable that we’d hook up with a new canine friend before long. As it happened, my brother Kelly was one of a few boys who found a pile of abandoned puppies on the school playground (abandoning dogs is wrong, of course, but the abandoner knew what they were doing… there wasn’t a puppy in that box that wasn’t carried home by some hopeful child). He chose the goldenest of the retriever mixes, and had already named him Sunshine by the time he got home. Our house was maybe 100 yards from the school.
Like with many strays, “Sunny” (as we usually called him) was accepted “for the weekend,” a weekend which ended up stretching across twelve years, five moves, and three continents. He was the family dog for most of my childhood, from age 6 to age 18. The first few weeks were magical. Every kid should have a puppy or a kitten at some point.
My mother and Sunshine, ca. 1976
Sunshine was a dog with a theme song. “You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine,” we would sing. He made us happy when skies were gray.