Sparky’s last walk

A few weeks ago, when I returned home after being gone for a week or so, I got the news from my wife that Sparky had taken a turn for the worse.

Sparky was the wonderful Boxer that we had been fostering for the last few months.  As I mentioned in my previous post about Sparky, he had cancer on his lower jaw, and it was just a matter of time.

Well, when I got home, it was that time.  Sparky had started to lose energy and while still perfectly friendly to the humans in the house, he wanted less and less to do with the other dogs.  The day before I got home, he got into a fight with our other Boxer, Rex, and lost badly, and I was the only one he’d let pet on his head, or get anywhere near it for that matter.

The day started normally enough.  I woke up, and checked the computer for news and emails and Sparky, as usual, was at my side.

Hugging the wall

When I transitioned to the bathroom to shower and get ready for the day, Sparky joined me, first hiding in the closet to make sure the other dogs wouldn’t pester him


and then once I kicked the other mutts out, right back to my side.


As I was getting dressed, I let Sparky join me on the bed, which was usually a big no-no for him and gave him lots of belly rubs.

Rubbing the ole belly

After that, time to hit the road.

open window

I opened the window nearly all the way for him so he could enjoy the wind in his face.

First stop on our trip was Sonic.  Over the course of his time with us, Sparky developed a huge love for tater tots.  I got him an order all his own.


He had to wait a moment to enjoy them as they were too hot and I didn’t want to further irritate his already sore mouth.  Once they cooled off enough, I let him eat them one at a time and he loved ’em.

Next stop was the dog park.  I got him inside the park, took the leash off and let him run all he wanted.

running free

On the way back to the truck, he wanted to do some exploring, and I humored him, letting him follow his nose.


He must have found a spot he liked as he rolled around several times on the ground, relishing the feel of the grass on his back.  He also managed to get a lot of sand burrs in his coat, but I was able to wipe most of them off no problem.

Sparky obediently hopped up into the truck, and I could see just how hard he had played as all he could do was lay down with no interest in sticking his head out the window.  I think it was a sign of just how wore out he was from his cancer ….


Sparky’s last stop was the vet’s and I was with him as the vet put him down, scratching him behind the ears and looking into his eyes as he died.  Walking out of the vet’s office with a leash and a collar when moments before it was attached to a wonderful animal has got to be one of the worst feelings in the world.

I am convinced that Sparky had a wonderful last day, and can only hope that his last few months were comfortable and enjoyable for him.  Doesn’t make that last day any easier, but at least I know we gave him a safe, cool place for him to live out his last days.


~ by Derrick Birdsall on July 19, 2010.

17 Responses to “Sparky’s last walk”

  1. What a great story in photographs and words. My condolences. Sparky has gone on to wider open fields. That first photo is the best in my opinion and the last one probably the least, as it is a little washed out. Other than the photos though, he looks and seems like a great guy and a fine companion. You gave him a great last day.


    • Thank you David. I took all those with my little Canon S90, so I didn’t have the same degree of control over the images as I am getting used to with my other cameras. I shot that last one over my shoulder as I was driving – I agree with you it’s a bit washed out!


  2. Derrick..I am without words as I read your post. A wonderful tribute to a great companion. Prayers for you and for Sparky.


  3. You should have posted a “kleenex alert” before that one – what a moving pictoral and tribute to a friend I’m sure you miss a lot. -js


    • Hey Jackie, tell me about it. Even though I put the poor guy down a few weeks ago this was the earliest I could write about it and still ended up teary eyed myself. 😉


  4. Hey Derrick, Well i know where Im coming when I feel like shit and am ready to leave this world. Like myself I will do anything for a 4 legged friend. Cheers to the legend Sparky


  5. Oh, Derrick. This post had me in tears. What a beautiful last day you gave to Sparky. I know he went onto a wonderful place and is all the better for knowing you and your family. You did the best you could for him and that is all any of us can ask. You are good people. 🙂


  6. Touché…this one was a really moving one.He must be surely missing you more than you do!!


  7. Lucky you have have enjoyed Sparky and spent a beautiful last day with him. Lucky you have have been blessed by such a sweet pup! My eyes are very sad for you right now.


  8. What a ovely tribute to Sparky’s life. I know that feeling of leaving with the collar and leash all too well. My heart goes out to you and your wife.j Have you considered making a shadow box with his collar and a picture you’ve taken of him?


  9. Derrick, Uncle Sam and I were touched by your last walk with the dog. Your soft side for sure! Love ya.


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