Sanchez entered my home and my heart at 4-months-old. He was a puppy in training from Guide Dogs for the Blind, and I was a volunteer puppy raiser.
He came pretty close to passing all the guide dog phases. But, when he didn’t, I was happy to adopt him. I promised him the best life a dog could have, and that he had. What I didn’t know then was what a great life he was going to give me, and many others. He was to be of great service, but not in the way that was planned by his guide dog breeding and training.
Instead, his work over the years included agility, official greeter at Lisa Spector’s Music School, canine musical freestyler, actor (as Helen Keller’s dog in The Miracle Worker), and my muse and inspiration behind creating Through a Dog’s Ear and iCalmDog. If it weren’t for Sanchez, I’m not sure canine music therapy would have ever been created.
His rambunctious puppy behavior caused my original inspiration. Then he became my constant canine tester, continued inspiration behind product development, and the center of attention on social media as charming and adorable mascot.
He was the perfect model and video star.
His best work was the development of music products to comfort senior dogs. That started when he told off a vet who thought he needed to be sedated for an X-ray that required him to lay still on his back. He thought, no problem, “I’ve got music that will take care of that.”
In addition to food, his greatest joys included using his nose (anywhere and everywhere, including nose-work class), hikes near the ocean and training with me every night.
Truth be told, when Gina joined our family, he wasn’t thrilled. He would have preferred that all the treats in the house were for him alone, and he always counted to make sure she didn’t get more than him. But, she adored him and never gave up trying to getting close.
We did tricks almost every night, and he loved it. He’d cry if I was late starting our special training time. When he matured, I found additional ways to include him with Gina. He grew to be fond of her during the double dog tricks. And, he especially enjoyed searching for treats I secretly tossed him when I was tugging with Gina and playing fetch with her. (He was never much of a retriever himself though.)
Sanchez was such a trooper during his rehab from a slipped disc in his neck at age 9 and his acupuncture treatments at Coastal Holistic Complementary Vet Clinic. And, more recently, during his recovery from E. coli.
He never complained about his change of diet to home cooked meals and The Honest Kitchen.
Sanchez touched many lives, far and wide, and left a big paw print behind. He rocked my world, and I am forever grateful for our nearly 14 blessed years together. He taught me so much about dog behavior and was my muse, not to mention the best mascot ever! He was adored by more fans than he was ever fortunate enough to meet. He will live on forever in my heart and in the hearts of all of his fans.
Sanchez always marched to his own drum. He lived life on his own terms, and went out on his own terms. He told me when his job was done here, and I respected his wish. He had a peaceful transition while we listened to the music that he inspired. Señor Sanchez wouldn’t have had it any other way.
1. He was career changed from Guide Dogs for the Blind for being “too much dog” and for being mouthy.
2. When he was first career changed, his dog sitter said, “His horns hold up his halo.” It was the perfect description of him.
3. He was a big snorer his entire life. He kept me up with his snoring on our first night together. And, during his guide dog puppy years, he snored his way through seven San Francisco Symphony concerts and six San Francisco Opera productions. I was always worried it would bother concert attendees, but they always loved him.
4. He was too macho to admit it, but he loved stuffed animals.
5. He was crazy about Golden Retrievers. He tried to hump almost every Golden he ever met, even in his senior years. Well, there was that one Border Collie too! (Click for entertaining video.)
6. He ate my diamond earring when he was a puppy. I looked for a week and never found it. Oh, what a girl will do for diamonds!
7. He once got me out of a speeding ticket. The cop asked why I was driving so fast. I said it was because I was worried my guide dog puppy would need to relieve before I got to the opera. He took one look at him and said, “Cute puppy, OK”.
8. He had more initials after his name than me… Señor Sanchez AXP AJP OFP CGC
(Did I mention we did agility together?) Canine Good Citizen test was passed at 10 years of age! Good Boy.
9. He chewed up and destroyed at least a dozen dog beds in his youth.
10. I lost him more times than I care to admit. One time I called the cops and they found him half a mile away. When I showed up, he looked like he was about to say, “Oh, you’re here. So, what’s for dinner?”
11. He loved sweet potato strips. But, he was terrible at “Look At Me”.
12. He was always showing off his hips. (Who me?)
13. My personal nickname for him was “Pumpkin”.
14. He loved hanging out on decks with great views.
15. He really didn’t like to cuddle, unless we were outdoors sharing the lounge chair.
16. He loved men and was always trying to find the right one for me. (He’s passing that job onto Gina.)
17. He frequently slept with his head off the bed.
18. He wasn’t much for swimming, but he loved to walk in the water.
19. He made himself comfortable in the oddest ways.
21. He never relieved in our home, not as a puppy and not as a senior. But, when I took him to a friend’s house decorated for the holidays, he walked over to the Christmas tree and, well…
22. He failed his therapy dog test. (As always, he was more interested in searching the floor for crumbs than engaging with the people.)
23. He loved to wash the dishes.
24. His picture was on a framed card in our home with a favorite quote by artist Pam Reinke.
“It always comes back to… all I really owe anyone is to honestly be Who I am.”
He taught me this when he was a puppy and the lesson remained his entire life.
25. He had his own special song from iCalmDog that I played for him on the piano, Schumann’s Child Sleeping. I was so fortunate to share his final evening with him in peace and had the opportunity to play it for him one last time at home. This video is from a few years back, but I’m sure he’s listening now from Rainbow Bridge.
Rest in Peace Señor Sanchez. Through a Dog’s Ear is your very special legacy, and I will remain forever grateful. Yours was a life well lived and well served to many!