Sonny the Family Dog

Sonny came into rescue late in 2009. He was one of many Pyrs in need in Texas that year. Some of the lucky ones like Sonny made it up to the Northeast. Sonny was listed on the NGPR adoption page in December. His listing foretold the role he was about to play in one family’s life. “Sonny is my name. I’m a Pyr/Lab mix, a very sweet boy about 9 months old. I came in as a stray with my sister Nola. I love to play, go for walks and rides in the car. Always in a good mood, I like cats, dogs and humans. I try so hard to please, i have so much joy to share, maybe you will let me share it with you.”

Sonny didn’t have much interest until the Spring of 2010 when the Dines family in Bridgeport, NY applied for him and were approved. Like everyone else in the early days, Michelle and her family were new to rescue. All we knew about them what was that they lived on a farm, had two kids and a cat. All they knew about us was that we had a large, gentle dog to rescue. Everyone was taking a gamble. It was a long trip up from Texas but a few weeks later, Sonny finally made it up to New York.

Early in May Michelle drove down from Syracuse to meet Sonny at the McDonalds in Saugerties. She was thrilled and excited to see him for the first time. She couldn’t wait to get him home to her husband Dan and the kids. Sonny quickly became part of the family and at home on the farm. His description provded to be accurate, including cuddling with Ernie, the cat. He was good with the chickens, other farm animals and the kids.

Sonny was loved, petted and babied. He became an integral part of the family. He had many nicknames—Sonnykin, Pooka, Mommy’s Baby Boy. His favorite foods weren’t on any vet-approved diet. “He loved cheese, chicken or anything anyone is eating. Sonny would taste it just in case it’s good.” He went for daily walks with Michelle and as a true guardian alerted everyone both near and far to foxes and other predators on the property. Sonny loved car rides, barking and of course his naps on his comfy bed.

The years passsed too quickly for anyone to notice. Sonny was there to love and comfort through the loss of friends and grandparents. The kids become teenagers and Sonny started slowing down. In 2021 the issues with his hind legs became noticeable. He wasn’t so eager to head out for a walk. After a while, the arthritis medications didn’t work as well. Time was coming to say the goodbye that no one wanted to say.

As NGPR’s Facebook volunteer, Michelle was always a prolific poster. Pictures from dinner, the new baby chicks and pig births all made it to Michelle’s Facebook page. The week Sonny was put to sleep there was radio silence from Michelle. We knew something was wrong but no one wanted to ask.

When Michelle emerged it was to give comfort to others going through the same terrible separation from a loved pet. She continued to post pictures of Sonny and marked the one month anniversary of his passing on her Facebook page. She reached out to others going through the same thing by suggesting an article about pet loss that others might feel comforted by.

With an acute awareness of so many dogs needing rescue, in February Michelle reached out and volunteered her family to foster a dog who needed to move out of Kentucky.

Marley came to New York at the end of the month, learning to overcome her fear and how to be a household pet. As a former farm dog, who had never been in a house, the time with Michelle and her family is a critical learning time for her to be adopted.

Like so many of us who have lost the first dogs we adopted from rescue, it is hard to move on. The sad situation is that now, more than ever, more dogs need our help and we can’t say no to them. If you have lost a dog recently and want to help, please email us or fill out a volunteer application at No dog will ever replace Sonny. He arrived at exactly the time and place he was needed to become perfect family dog.