S: Sydney Bean Sara Silver
FC: Sara Silver | A Dog's Life, Recalled | Sydney Bean
1: Sydney Bean A Dog's Life Recalled | Sara Silver
3: For Sydney, wherever she may be now. Wish you were here, Syd.
4: ................... 1 ................... 7 ................... 8 ................... 11 ................... 13 ................... 15 ................... 17 ................... 19 ................... 23 ................... 26 ................... 27 | Introduction Lost and Found The Name Is Sydney Living the Bean iPod Dog Harold and Maude A River Runs Through It Sack o' Potatoes and a Wagon The Worst Day of My Life Grief Therapy In Their Words ~ The Comfort of Friends & Family
5: ................... 31 ................... 35 | Photo Gallery Random Thoughts
6: This book is a celebration of a dog's life, about the love and trust she had for me and I for her, and about the bond that grew so strong I began to hope it would magically trump her mortality. | 1
7: Perhaps in sharing I can start to heal and find a way to accept that my Sydney is gone from my side but never from my heart. | 2
8: Dear Friends of Sydney Bean Syd died yesterday evening following a severe downturn in her condition. I am devastated. I could never prepare to be without the little sweet being that has been by my side literally for 18 years. I decided to give her a final resting place at the Pet Cemetery at Cypress Hill Cemetery in Petaluma. She will always be there for a visit and nothing can ever be built over her. I expect to bury her the beginning of this coming week, and I will know more on Monday morning. I want to thank everyone who ever had a kind word or thought for Sydney. I will always be deeply grateful to those of you who let her into your lives knowing she and I were a “package deal”. I often thought she was the better end of the deal which I’m sure you understand. | July 18, 2010 Email From: Me To: Friends Subject: Sad News | 3
9: While I am convinced she wouldn’t have had such a wonderful and long life if she and I hadn’t been together each day, it makes the present without her very painful. I tried to speak to my dad a few moments ago and it was almost too hard, which is why I am emailing this to you all. Below is a photo of Sydney, the last one, taken on Steelhead Beach on the Russian River Friday evening. She had just drank a gallon of clear river water, which was her drink of choice, and was contentedly napping when I snapped this. Sydney loved creeks and rivers, I’ll never know why. May She Rest In Peace Sara, Syd’s Mom | 4
10: Sydney, also known in certain circles as "The Bean" was my very closest friend for 18 years. She was a shelter puppy, a Border Collie mix with a twinkle in her eye and a quick, disarming smile. In 2002, (when Syd turned 10) I realized that she was now considered "old" and fearful that I wouldn't have any pictures to remember her by, I bought my first digital camera and started snapping photos. Sydney lived to the grand old age of 18.4 years. | 5
11: I have a lot of photos. | 6
12: Syd was a runaway, found bleeding from a torn ear, wandering on Llano Road in Sonoma county one day and taken to the nearby shelter. No one came to claim her, and I am thankful for that. There she waited until I happened along. | The dog and I soon found ourselves back at home. I tried to think of something cool and clever to call her, but nothing came to me-and I wasn't crazy about the name "The Dog". So I called my dad to tell him of my exciting news, and of the naming dilemma. My dad is smart and quick and very good at many things, | Lost and Found | 7
13: The Name is Sydney | He suggested "Sydney" that day, almost instantly, when I told him she might be an Australian Shepherd Mix. The breed was incorrect but the name was perfect. | 8
14: June, 2010 Sydney's remarkable health was giving in to the reality of her many years, and she became ill with cancer and other maladies of advanced age. Dad named her Simcha, which means joy or happiness in Hebrew so he could say a prayer for her in synagogue. A most descriptive name which perfectly matches her silly, sweet, and exuberant personality. | 9
15: Sydney and I lived in many different homes all within the Santa Rosa area. Dogs are pretty adaptable and Sydney adjusted to each place quickly and easily. | A house with a huge back yard, a tiny abode with no yard, three different print shops, a 27 foot travel trailer, a barn/warehouse without plumbing or electricity, no home at all (a pickup truck), and a townhouse with a postage-stamp sized back yard-we shared them all. | Roy & Sydney Ukiah, CA 1995 Roy gave Sydney her first taste of soft serve vanilla ice cream on this trip, explaining to me that since it was 107 degrees in the shade that afternoon, the dog's regular diet could be deviated from; if you look closely at Sydney's expression you will see what Syd thought of the unusual treat! | 10
16: The kids would chase her, pull on her ears and tail, the whole bit. They found Sydney no matter where she hid from them. | When we lived in a house with a big backyard, we would have the occasional weekend BBQ party, and Sydney found the youngest children, 4-6 year olds, very squeaky and annoying. | Living the Bean | 11 | She got a lot of requests to babysit after that. | When Syd had had enough she would go into Herding Mode and gather all the shrill giggling children into a corner of the backyard and keep them there, like a bunch of unruly sheep.
17: 12 | My dog Sydney never saved me from a burning building or warned me of dangerous intruders. But there was a short period of time when we didn't have a place to live, so we slept in the car. Sydney was my blanket, literally, and kept me warm and loved when everything felt pretty cold and uncaring. Sydney Bean was something special. She made me a better person, made my life good, made me happy, and kept me warm.
18: iPod Dog Sydney and I did everything together. She even accompanied me to all my jobs day and night. One job involved very late nights, usually ending after the bars were closed and the traffic lights switched to "going my way mode". This was such a night: quiet, dew forming on the grass, the sky a deep blue with an impossible turquoise glow. | I loaded her into the front of my truck, and then, as I leaned into the darkened cab, I turned on my iPod for light. Sydney gazed at the picture of herself as it turned on, her face glowing in the iPod’s light. She was really looking at it, and I think she liked what she saw. | 13
19: It's also a powerful memory, reminding me how great and how interesting Sydney was. I still work those late nights, and going home alone is an emotional minefield. | It was a very striking image, and as I drove home, my mind wandered back to a picture of another dog, interested in another kind of technology, and was inspired by the similarities. | 14
20: The story of Harold and Maude starts when young Harold came to share each work day at my day job, Skylark Images. Syd and I had been there for over 10 years, then, one winter day we walked in to find a bouncy ball of black curls occupying our space. Harold (aka Parker the Poodle) was very interested in Maude (aka Sydney The Bean), and soon his highest priority each and every day was to get Sydney to play with him. In just a few months he grew from 14 pounds to 70+ pounds, and Sydney simply got older. Even though she ignored him outwardly for the most part, she kept a keen eye on him and his playful puppy activities. | Harold and Maude | Parker never got the message that Syd wasn't going to play with him, and was often seen bounding exuberantly across the room towards his girl, always pulling up at the last possible second to avoid crashing into her. | Syd wasn't always the sleepy old lady and occasionally Parker did get a reaction from her, although not the kind of reaction he was looking for... | 15
21: Picture a 65 pound puppy, lying about 10 feet from an 18 year old dog half his size. Now, he has a lovely dog biscuit (the kind shaped like a bone, 10 inches of crunchy goodness) and he is apparently saving it for later . After 10 minutes of watching the pup not eat his treat, the older dog gets very slowly to her feet and walks unsteadily over to the innocent puppy. Standing over him, she growls and glares in a gesture that surely means "ok pal, you've had your chance, now give me that cookie or else". Parker gave up that biscuit without a fight, although he did look a little confused. Sydney was all business, taking her treat back to her area of the floor and eating it without delay, crumbs everywhere. | Similarly, Syd became The Equalizer when she stole food from Parker which had started out as my boss' lunch. Again, a confused youthful poodle puppy takes a lesson from the old girl. Crime does not pay, young man. See, Parker, she did love you after all. | 16
22: We did go everywhere together, the Bean and I. You can't point to a road in Sonoma County that we didn't explore, including less traveled and more obscure roads such as the spectacular King Ridge Road. I have mentioned Syd's enjoyment of Spring Lake Regional Park, but she also spent a lot of time trekking on the steep hills at Helen Putnam RP (yes, there is a little lake near the top) and she especially loved Crane Creek RP. In the spring and winter we would go to Shollenberger Park, and in the week before her death we were able to visit Ellis Creek for the first time, Syd in her wagon looking happy and tired. I was aware that we were making last-minute memories together then, and as a result Ellis Creek is too precious and bittersweet for me to visit. Visiting Lake Hennessey in Napa made her dance with happiness and some of her other favorites were Bodega Bay, Coleman Valley, Skaggs Spring Rd, The Geysers, Ft Cronkite and Hawk Hill in the GGNRA...When she was younger we would go to Fairfax in Marin County and explore the waterfalls, rivers, and lakes in the area. If a river ran through it, rest assured that Sydney probably did, too. | 17 | A River Runs Through It
23: 18 | A little farther from home we enjoyed some interesting destinations-Syd acting as "Photo Op Manager" to my "Indecisive Photographer". Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, Yosemite, The Gold Country, Shasta, Lassen, Feather River Canyon, Palm Desert, Joshua Tree and the Salton Sea...We drove up the coast, down the coast and took hundreds of trips over the Golden Gate Bridge to visit her "grandpa". I made the back of my truck cab a big pillow-filled den for her . We were happy everywhere we went.
24: Sack of Potatoes and a Wagon As you might have guessed, this is not about food at all. Sydney was an amazing dog in so many ways. One for which I am very grateful is her health. For 15 years she looked youthful, the only clue to her age an ever-expanding milk mustache. No one thought she looked more than 10, and she acted appropriately. When she became 16 she started to visibly slow down. Word of mouth took us to a local veterinary hospital populated by loving angels. Sydney got a new lease on life and until she was more than 18 years old lived it running, hiking, and eating like a much younger dog. One Saturday morning Sydney was different. I will spare you the details, but it seemed she had crossed a line. This was the beginning of June. I had always said I would eventually pull my pup-a-r00 in a cart when she could no longer walk. So I found a big folding garden cart and off we went. Since her mobility was limited, I helped her to walk around by putting her in a t-shirt and holding the back to support her. Whenever we went from one place to another I would hoist her ever-lighter little body up and hold her like a baby-or like a sack of potatoes. I started saying "C'mon my little sack o' potatoes" and off we'd go. | 19
25: I took her to her favorite places like spring Lake and other regional parks. Sydney would hang her head off the side and grin and just love it. She attracted even more attention than normal, and everyone said she looked like the luckiest dog in the world. I would have agreed with them, but I knew better. Her luck had started to run out. | 20
26: Over the years I have watched my Bean wander and sniff and always took her to the river, if there was one in the vicinity. Sydney reciprocated by listening to me ramble on about this and that, letting me sing to her when no one else was around, and by patiently waiting while I took photos everywhere we went. | We did everything together and so our two lives became one life. I knew it wouldn't last but as the years passed she hardly showed the passage of time, and when she hit 18 I was suddenly sure she could get to 19. | And then she died, and part of my life died with her. | 21
28: The Worst Day of My Life | Sydney's last day was a Saturday. Just thinking about writing this page has filled me with dread. Perhaps another time, in another book, I will describe what really was the worst day of my life. I think it was Syd's worst day, too. One good memory from that day is of Syd and I napping on the floor together, nose to nose, for about an hour. It is a sweet memory on a day of horrifying decisions and great sadness. Unbearable feelings of uncertainty and guilt are now my companions. | 23
29: The Bean | Sydney | 24
30: Above: My Pets Cemetery, Located in Petaluma, CA Sydney is buried in the tie-dyed t shirt she died in. I kept her collar and key, but gave her my necklace and key. Below: Grave marker of pure black granite, 4 inches thick | My friend Bill and my sister Abby arrange flowers at the burial | 25 | Sydney Bean
31: Grief Therapy through Merchandising | 26 | Whenever I have a choice where Sydney's memory is concerned I find doing what I want, what feels right, and not what I think other people would approve of works best for me. I have done things I never thought I'd do, like buy a cemetery plot for Syd and design a headstone for her. Immersing myself in her belongings and images is another good example. My truck sports a photo, has her collar hanging from the rear view mirror, her "sack of potatoes" shirt adorns the front passenger seat, and my screen savers at home and work are almost exclusively Bean. | The making of this book has been incredible therapy, so much so that I almost don't want to finish it. Since the Bean died I have spent most of my free time arranging, then re-arranging pages, searching for more pictures... Bearing images of Sydney are greeting card designs, postcards, t-shirts, wristwatches, check designs, and postage stamps. It all seems to help me get up in the morning and distracts me, believe it or not, from her absence.
32: The Comfort of Friends & Family Emails | Dear Sara, Just reading your note and knowing the loss you are feeling started my tears. My heart breaks for you. Sydney had not only an amazingly long life, but the best life she could have ever dreamed of. Your were an incredible companion for her as she was for you. Although you spending so much time together makes her not being there even harder I know you wouldn't have done it any other way. You can have comfort in knowing you always gave her the best life. The pain is unbearable, I know, it's just the way it is when you have this wonderful relationship with your dog. I want to believe that we will see our wonderful friends again and in fact they will be waiting for us when our time comes. In the mean time, Cricket is probably showing Sydney all the great places to run and swim and take naps in the sun. Big, warm hug to you, Lesley | Dear Sara, I had been thinking of you and Sydney a lot this week--thanks for sending the email. Before Billy, I had a sheltie named Bodhi who was with me for 15 years. We were attached at the hip, as they say, and so I have some knowledge of the loss you feel. I am so sorry. I suppose we sign up for this special love knowing that we will outlive our dear companion, but it doesn't seem to make it any easier when their time comes. I'm sure there are a lot of people sending you their thoughts right now, and please know I am one of them. You gave Sydney a very wonderful life, and she knew it. Barbara | Dear Sara, Sydney's mom, I am so deeply sorry. Oh my gosh, Sara, I do know how much you love her, I am crying just writing this. My heart goes out to you. I pray each day will get a little better, and as time goes on the pain will be replaced by the wonderful memories of Syd and all your adventures together. You gave each other such an awesome life. Let me know if you need anything, if you want to talk, or just email........I am here for you. Love & Blessings, Gwen | 27 | S, I'm terribly sorry to hear this, even though I knew it was coming. Big hugs and lots of love. Thinking of you. k
33: Sara Janey and I share your grief to some degree since we knew Sydney and your great love for her. These animals are friends and gifts indeed. "Those of us who choose to surround ourselves with lives more temporary than our own--live within a fragile circle that is easily and often breached." Always, Don and Janey | Dear Sara, My heart is with you and with Sydney. Knowing that the mind doesn't die, but rather move on to our next life experience, I am sure that Sydney is experiencing much happiness having left behind her aged body of this life. She had a wonderful spirit, and still does. You will meet again. And when you do she will always remember, in some way, your love. She taught you much about love. Now, in memory of her, I hope you continue to share it with all others. Sydney was a good teacher. I will miss her too and will remember her in my prayers. Please let me know when the burial will be. I'd like to attend if possible. Love Always, Your Bro, Bill | Hi Sara, I am so sorry for you. I know how much you loved Sydney. She was a sweet dog and a loving companion. Love, Darren | I know we can not be surprised by this news, but it still breaks my heart...Looking at that picture makes me shed a tear and it also reminds me of all the wonderful years I got to share with the bean. I have yet to meet a doggy with such a great personality. She will really be missed. I hope you get to take some time away from Skylark to grieve and such. At least we know she is no longer in pain. my absolute best wishes Kim | 28 | Good morning Sara, I wanted to wait for the pain to subside a little before expressing my sympathies on your lost pal. For as long as I can remember Steve’s stories about you and your adventures, Sydney was part of the story. She was incorporated into your image on the business cards and long trips. I’m truly sorry for your loss. As with all things Earthly, the material side doesn’t last but the spiritual side goes on and I’m sure the sounds and looks of Sidney still live in your mind. Shalom Timshel! Timothy D. Morse, Sr.
34: The Comfort of Friends & Family Condolence Cards | Jordan and Sydney, 2003 | Dear Sara, I know how close and comforting your life with Syd has been, and I know also that words do not heal the pain of a loss, a pain like losing your own limb. I am here for you as you know and I fully see how beautifully you have arranged the Bean's final resting place. Love, Dad | Dear Sara, We were so sorry to hear about your loss. Sydney was so fortunate to have such a wonderful person in her life-you. We will miss Sydney too. Michele, Raj, David | 29
35: Sara, We understand your grief for Sydney. You had a long and close relationship. Our deepest sympathy. Virgil and Sharon | Dear Sara and Friends of Sydney Cherish the good memories with Sydney and she will be with you always. Rose | Dear Sara, We will all miss Sydney. I will remember her smile most of all. Love, Erin David Sara, The Bean worked her way into my heart. I am sad about her passing Love, Darren | Sara Syd was the best dog ever and you were her mom. She loved you and she will be with you always. Love, Pete | Dear Sara May Sydney's spirit rest where the river runs clear and deep. Am thinking of you. Barbara | Dear Sara, We understand your grief and loss. We know you'll remember the love and laughter you shared. Hugs, Erika and Hal | 30
40: Random Thoughts On euthanasia-without the strength of your convictions you will only have doubt and guilt. Get a second opinion, and always have a way to reach a trusted vet or doctor. End of life decisions will haunt you if you are like me, and it's painful. Even if you are against euthanasia you may face a choice. You may not be at a familiar hospital, may not have all medical facts the attending doc needs to help make the RIGHT decision. On missing The Bean - It has been 6 weeks since Sydney died. and I wonder when my heart will stop breaking. The stages of grief seem to be cyclical, repeating in an endless loop. I thought it was a linear thing. Seems I was wrong. Sydney shared a third of my lifetime with me. That's a lot of heartbreak to fix. In 1992 I adopted Syd; I was on the "good" side of 30, and together we had a good 18+ years- until our worst day, July 17, 2010. Now, without my girl my spirit wanders and I feel empty and very sad. | 35
41: I loved being Syd's Mom. If memories could fill me up maybe I could get a little relief, but I can't get past her absence. Everyone says it is hard to get over a death like this. Sydney is gone - f o r e v e r. How do I start living? Without Sydney? | 36 | I miss her terribly.