LESLIE CRISS: Chunk’ of coal offers 14 good years of great love

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives.”
– John Galsworthy

“If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness.”
– Marjorie Garber

“I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness. If it takes my dog being there [in Heaven], I believe he’ll be there.”
– The Rev. Billy Graham
My good friend Harmony Sproles went peacefully – and hopefully – to a better place late Wednesday afternoon. Most folks knew her as Chunk. When my friend Cheryl got her as a puppy, she was so black that she looked just like a chunk of coal.
The nickname stuck, and with it the propensity of most of us to refer to her always with masculine pronouns. It’s an offense for which she forgave us, time and time again.
Born into a litter of Labs destined for the hunt, the breeder almost refused to let a non-hunter take Chunk home. But home with Cheryl Chunk did go.
And for 14 years this big black Lab has been a part of her life.
Anyone who has ever loved a dog will view this as an understatement, but letting go is hard.
Another friend and I were talking earlier in the week about how great it would be if our pets outlived us, but then we wouldn’t be around to take care of them.
We do take care of them. We feed and water them, get them the best veterinary care possible, buy them toys and treats and comfortable beds.
But it is they, our beloved dogs who, I believe, are the master caregivers. And we the recipients of that canine care offered in the form of unconditional love, loyalty, gratitude and unbounded joy.
Surely, Chunk has given those of us who have loved her those gifts in abundance. And we are grateful.
Though I’ve had the delight of being a part of her life for only the past four years, Chunk and I had several things in common – a love of Christmas and snow, among them.
When the tree went up and the stockings hung, old Chunk got her groove back, with a spring in her stiff legs we’d not seen in a while.
When we were lucky enough to see snowflakes fall, she’d go out on the deck, turn in circles, looking up at the sky as the icy white flakes flecked her coal-black fur.
If snow accumulated, she’d commence to doing her pony dance – her front feet hopping up and down as she barked with excitement.
Even as her body wore down, her spirit stayed strong. So, too, her appetite. Chunk had a true appreciation for food – she never met a treat she didn’t like.
She’ll be missed, this big black chunk of a dog. By Cheryl her master; her friend Ashley Dann; her canine brothers Thom Thumb and George; and me.
And she won’t be forgotten.
Farewell, sweet Harmony.

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