Sugar – 2021 Purple Paw Award Recipient

“One day in kindergarten, the teacher
asked us to raise our hands if we had a dog.
I was the only one without my hand raised. I really wanted one,
and after over a year of begging, my mom brought home a precious ball of fluff- a miniature poodle I now call Sugar. He was timid and the last of his litter to be adopted. Sugar was very smart however. I trained him to understand commands in three languages: English, Spanish, and ASL. Eventually we bonded.

“Within a few years of finding Sugar, my parents got divorced and my mom moved about 40 miles away from my hometown and my dad. This change was not easy, but I had at least one constant in my life- Sugar. He sleeps in bed with me every night, follows me into the bathroom, and greets me when I get out of the shower. Sugar is like my shadow.

“Sugar has saved my life a number of times. I grew up with undiagnosed autism and never knew why it was so difficult to make friends compared to others. Luckily, Sugar didn’t care if I had autism. He didn’t care if I failed to pick up social cues. Sugar didn’t care if I fidgeted or stimmed. We had an intense unconditional love for one another. He grew to be protective of me, and me of him. In addition to Autism Spectrum Disorder, I struggled with severe depression and suicidal thoughts. When I cried, he would lick my tears and provide endless cuddles. Taking him out on walks helped get me out of bed. I knew that I could never leave Sugar without his mama. He was the inspiration that kept me going. He was an angel worth living for.

“Today Sugar is 14.5 years old (101.5 in dog years). His hearing has diminished, and he is nearly fully blind. He has grown to be more afraid of his surroundings until he can catch a familiar scent. His fear of strangers and his devout protectiveness of me can sometimes cause him to get aggressive. Nonetheless, Sugar shows his over-pouring love for me better than any being on Earth and I can’t imagine what life would have been like without him.

“Please, rescue a pet- You never know, they might just save your life too.” – Tierra Chapdelaine