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Just Like Sonny

How Mysterious Ways editor Nicole Notare found comfort after losing her beloved dog.

Nikki and beloved dog, Sonny

Thursday night, two weeks ago, I left the Guideposts office and called my dad while I walked to catch a cab, choking back tears. It had been a rough day, and all the inspirational stories in the world couldn’t cheer me up. I’d been on my way to work that morning when I got the call that our family dog, Sonny, had died suddenly. For 12 years he’d been a constant source of joy in our lives. As any dog lover knows, no amount of time is ever long enough.

It broke my heart that I wasn’t there when he passed. We got Sonny about a week after losing our previous dog, Cody, and he quickly filled the void in our lives. Sonny, a rescued pit bull, became famous with our friends and family for his “hugs.” You’d crouch down, he’d stand up on his hind legs, then place his front paws—one on each of your shoulders—and lick your face. “I just wish I could’ve hugged him one last time,” I told my dad. He consoled me, told me not to have “what ifs” but I couldn’t stop crying.

Just then, I looked ahead and saw a man walking a dog who could’ve been Sonny’s twin. I passed by them, but a voice inside me said: Tell him about Sonny. It wouldn’t let up.

I turned around. “I have to say hello,” I told the man. “I lost my pit, Sonny, this morning and your dog looks just like him.”

“I’m so sorry, he said. “This is Marley. Nice to meet you.”

With that, his dog wagged her tail, walked over and excitedly licked my hand. She made me laugh for the first time all day.

“Thanks for letting me meet her,” I said, bending down to give Marley one last scratch.

In an instant, she stood up on her hind legs, placed her front paws on my shoulders, and licked my face.

I was still in awe of the Sonny-like encounter a few days later, when my husband brought home Angelo, a Jack Russell/pit mix from the Monmouth County SPCA. He hoped the new dog would help us through our grief. Like Sonny once had.

The second he ran into the living room, Angelo jumped up onto Sonny’s favorite couch… and fell asleep in the exact spot where he had passed away.

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