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Parks department keeps part of tree to honor woman’s dog

Sonny Long

By Sonny Long
Dec. 28, 2013 at 6:28 a.m.

Melissa Larson, of Victoria, pets her French mastiff named Angus Von Lichtenstein next to the memorial gravesite of her deceased Pekingese dog, Sonnie, who died in 2007. “The hurt has worn off,” Larson said, “It helps now that I have Angus.”

When Melissa Larson’s best friend of 15 years, a Pekingese named Sonnie, died six years ago, she wanted him buried nearby.

Just outside Larson’s Shenandoah subdivision fence sits Green Belt Park, a place where Sonnie and Larson loved to walk.

So Larson buried Sonnie under an ash tree near the fence line.

Larson nailed a plaque to the tree that reads: “Here lies a faithful friend and companion.”

Larson later added a carved rock with Sonnie’s name and dates of birth and death.

“I wanted him close,” Larson said. “I keep my gate open enough, so I can look out my kitchen window and see his perfect little resting place.”

Larson almost lost sight of that tree two weeks ago.

The city’s annual tree trimming program was underway, and the old ash tree beneath which Sonnie was buried was targeted to be cut down.

“I just happened to be home that day. I asked the crew to hand me the plaque and the marker before they cut down the tree,” Larson said.

“I was told they had special plans for them and not to worry.”

And they did.

After cutting down the tree, the crew left the stump intact and placed the plaque on it and the marker in front of it.

Although burying animals in the park is illegal, the city made an exception in this case.

“One of our crews was out doing our yearly tree trimming and cleanup,” said Kevin Stewart, assistant parks director. “They left the stump so she could put the marker back on the tree stump.

“We do not allow burying animals in our parks, and this was done without permission, but since her pet had already been buried, the crew did what they thought was the prudent thing to do and not make a bad situation worse and left her a place to reinstall the plaque.”

Larson is grateful.

“I thank the parks department crew for being compassionate to honor my feelings and getting their job done at the same time,” Larson said.

Larson had owned Sonnie Shadie’s Sonnie Boy, according to the American Kennel Club, since 1992, when he was a puppy.

“He was with me through thick and thin for 15 years,” Larson said. “This boy went and did almost everything I did.”

Larson said Sonnie loved motorcycles, jet skis, boats, airplanes, diesel trucks, cars – anything with a motor – Dairy Treet, Halloween and morning walks in the neighborhood.

Sonnie died Dec. 10, 2007.

Larson remembers that day well.

“It was a very cold day. Sonnie and I were in the middle of the living room surrounded by the Christmas tree, a fire in the fireplace and decorations,” she said.

“I was wrapping presents when he had one of his seizures (something that had been happening with more frequency in recent years).

“I decided that instead of consoling him, I needed to step back and get him to let go.” Sonnie did.

She got a wicker basket and wrapped him in his favorite blanket along with the little lamb toy he stole from her niece when she was an infant, Larson said.

Larson then buried him beneath the ash tree near her fence line in Green Belt Park.

It’s been a while now, and the hurt has worn off some. “Once in awhile, I’ll do something out in the yard that he liked to do, or something else will remind me of him, and I’ll bawl my eyes out,” she said.

“But I can stand in my kitchen, look straight out, and he’s right out there. It’s very comforting.”



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