Bernadette Castillo Stewart

submission by BernadettenanetteNYC
Bernadette Castillo Stewart

Your Pet's Name

:

Sonoma

Date and Location of Photo

:

June 2012, Washington, DC - My apartment

How Does your pet add value to your life and community?

:

Sonoma has always captured the hearts of anyone she met. Her gentle nature, her willingness to please, and her all around happy demeanor made her the perfect pet, companion, playmate, and therapy dog. Young, old, man, woman, human, or animal - Sonoma would get along with them. It was hard not to love her.

She had this amazing discipline to sit there with a treat on the tip of her nose waiting for the signal to go get it...one second, five seconds, ten seconds would go by and onlookers would sit captivated, watching her stare cross-eyed at the prize, simply waiting. Then as fast as the command was given, the treat would disappear like magic! A quick shift of the snout to the right, a subtle drop of the treat as gravity pulled it downward, then the quickest shift back to left to catch and be rewarded...

Sonoma had done tricks for years (including her other many talents of rolling over, crawling, playing dead, turning in a 360), but this trick in particular would not only endear animal lovers, but put a smile on even the grumpiest of non-believers. And when we had a captive audience at the VA hospital where we volunteered weekly, Sonoma's repertoire of tricks would have the vets talking, gathering around, engaging - even those who would usually stay by themselves. It reinforced why I had made her a therapy dog to begin with - she had the ability to reach out to others and she needed to be shared with the world.

Sonoma passed this July, living and giving every day of her life. She went to work with me for 10 years, volunteered for over 3 years, and enjoyed every dog park she encountered. She was 14 years, 8 months, and 8 days and even her memory still touches people and makes the world a better place.

Which Shelter would you like the $1,500 donation to be made to on your behalf?

Shelter: Animal Humane Society Bound for Home

Discussion
51 Pink-talk-bubble-tail

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Damn, look at all this love for Sonoma. Really says it all, doesn't it?

by chadv
11 months ago | Reply

I'm proud to say that Sonoma had a lot of fans :) It's hard not to love her...

by BernadettenanetteNYC
10 months ago | Reply

Phobos knows better than anyone, Sonoma was one sweet lady.

by gdamon
11 months ago | Reply

Oh that Phobos! All the attention a dog could want... :)

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

I don't think I ever threw a ball so much in my life as playing with Sonoma. Now I do it with my dog - a black labrador absolutely an inspired rescue from knowing Sonoma. I lost my pug recently and grieve everyday so this wonderful tribute to dogs has really helped. Best of luck robin

by rgorelick
11 months ago | Reply

The tennis ball was her staple. Pick one up and she would stand at attention with ears perked up, ready to give chase! And if you threw it in the water...well, that could entertain her (and us) for days! Such a joy to watch:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/9l6beltitfaabie/Sonoma_06.jpg and
https://www.dropbox.com/s/zc1c2ahz933a5f8/Sonoma_09.jpg

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

This is a fitting memorial for a memorable spirit. I worked alongside Sonoma for several years - well I worked and she mostly just distracted me from it. I can honestly say she was one of the most cheerful and good natured four-legged friends I've ever known. No matter how stressful my day was, her perpetual tail wagging and big bright eyes would seemingly make it all right. I'm glad she was able to share her special brand of joy to so many other people as well.

360s forever!

by michael.lunsford.357
11 months ago | Reply

I used to think that Sonoma didn't know how good she had it...that very few dogs were able to go to work with their owners and be around people and other dogs all day long. But then I realized she did know! That's why she was always so happy...happy to see you, happy to lay at your feet, happy to eat your crumbs, happy to wag her tail in appreciation! Cheers to Sonoma!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Really glad I got to meet her! She definitely represents how much joy a dog can bring to the lives of the people they come in contact with :)

by dinah.jean.7
11 months ago | Reply

She made it easy for me to take her ANYWHERE. I never had to worry about her around kids, adults, or any other animals so it allowed me to take her to work, to the park, to people's homes, or to just sit outside at restaurants where she would just get loved on by all passersby!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

I had the wonderful opportunity to watch Sonoma several times. Sonoma is the sweetest, most relaxed, well-behaved dog I have ever come across. Whenever I'd take her for a walk other people who lived in the apartment would know her by name, say hi to her, give her a pat on the head. The front desk staff knew her well. Sonoma would be extra nice to them so she'd get a treat. It was tough saying no to her. She's just the sweetest!

I remember one time Sonoma came back from a walk and she spotted her next-door neighbor cat. The cat's owner was chatting with her friend in the hallway and her apartment door was open. I had already took Sonoma off the leash when she casually followed the cat into its apartment. I say casually because typically dogs will chase after cats right. Sonoma walked into the neighbor's apartment like it was her own. She even tried to sample the cat's food bowl. I apologized to the neighbor profusely. She found it hilarious.

The times I got to spend with Sonoma were so nice, simple, stress-free. I think of Sonoma and I think all good things. Although the first time I got to watch Sonoma I had left bouillon cubes in an area she was able to access. (I brought some ingredients to cook!) I wasn't thinking she'd eat them when I left it there. But because of that her water intake increased tenfold. Ya...sorry about that again Joel & Bernadette. :/

This may sound weird but if I could be a dog, I'd want to be Sonoma. Lovable, friendly, chill, loyal. The list goes on and on. These would be some good characteristics in a partner too. But I digress.

I'm really thankful to Bernadette & Joel for trusting me and giving me the opportunity to get to know Sonoma. She was raised by delightful, loving parents/guardians...BFFs?

Here are some photos I took of Sonoma (don't forget to change the dot!):
instagram[dot]com/p/buCfRXskKv/
instagram[dot]com/p/MmjiQDskHo/
instagram[dot]com/p/QtCdunskG5/

by valerie.carla.9
11 months ago | Reply

Oh Val - you were such a big part of Sonoma's life. Thank you so much for taking care of her so well...I'm glad that you enjoyed spending as much time with her as she did with you!!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Wow, I feel like I really missed out not having the chance to get to know Sonoma while she was here. It doesn't sound like SHE missed out on anything - I especially love that she was a regular at the VA. I am rooting for her!!!

by jenn p
11 months ago | Reply

I was very proud of her when she went to the VA hospital. We would make our rounds every week to two inpatient wards and to one outpatient area. But it was in the inpatient wards, where some vets did not/could not have any visitors, that I felt Sonoma made the most difference. We would arrive and position ourselves by the nurses' station and as the announcement was made that we were there or if patients would just walk by, the cluster of vets would just continue to grow. And as an added bonus, I think it made the staff just as happy to have a little reprieve and a little petting time. :)

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Sonoma was the best pup ever!

by RussP
11 months ago | Reply

She definitely had a special soul...I was truly blessed to have her! And lucky too...she was my first pet (

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

What a beautiful tribute to Sonoma! Good luck!

by ppanici
11 months ago | Reply

Thank you! It's interesting...I submitted her entry as a way to help me grieve her loss - a simple therapeutic exercise at a time when I needed it most. And what I realized is that it was incredibly easy to write and "pay tribute" to her because she had done so much for me and for others in her lifetime that the words just came out. I am SO PROUD that she made it as a finalist because her story got her here, not my writing. She deserves to be here with all these other amazing pets! And to me she will always be a winner!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Sonoma sounds like a very special dog. I am sorry for your loss.

by parisladotnet
11 months ago | Reply

Thank you so much! While our loss truly runs deep, we are just thankful that we shared her with so many people! She has been cross country 5 times - a tall feat for a large dog...LA to NY to LA to NY cross-country road trip to LA to DC. And she had her papers to come to Japan with us this Fall... Here's a road trip photo with her sitting in the middle of our UHAUL!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/oto3podpjjcuw07/Sonoma_03.jpg

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Sonoma was the quintessential dog: loving, fun, smart, beautiful, obedient yet spirited. She will be missed.

by JTN
11 months ago | Reply

Sonoma was also a fighter! When it was coming close to the end of her life, she gave it EVERYTHING she had to stay with me through my surgery and to be by my side, making sure I was OK. So much so that I was almost convinced it wasn't time for her to go. But as soon as I was OK, it was evident that it was my turn to be strong for her and let her go...HER LOVE FOR ME WAS NEVER MORE CLEAR IN THOSE LAST FEW DAYS IN WHAT SHE DID FOR ME, AND MINE FOR HER.

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

What a great story! Sonoma for the win!!!

by LTD1980
11 months ago | Reply

Sonoma loved a good challenge and this is just another challenge for her. And since there's food as part of the reward, I'm sure she's going to give it her all to win!!!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

What a smart dog and a sweet story. Would that we all had such patience!

by cindydyerankele
11 months ago | Reply

And boy did she have patience! Sometimes people would joke that it was animal cruelty to make her wait to eat her treat. She could teach us all a lesson or two in how to be patient and how to love unconditionally!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Gorgeous dog and a beautiful story!

by bla
11 months ago | Reply

Thank you so much...it's not often you can find a yellow lab so white and with such a cute face...and with a heart to match!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

I only met her once, but she was the sweetest!

by cpurekal
11 months ago | Reply

Around the block we would go and we would meet new people every day. It was fun to bump into someone I knew and could introduce Sonoma to!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

What a beautiful pup!! She is the perfect example of how dogs can bring so much love and joy to our lives. xo

by jmorris614
11 months ago | Reply

Each day after 12, I said to myself "Every day is a gift." and made sure Sonoma felt that she was loved. Life is precious and we can't take it for granted. She was not only a gift but a blessing and I can only hope everyone out there can experience that love and joy with their pets and loved ones.

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

What a touching story!

by ben.schneider
11 months ago | Reply

There was a vet that we used to visit and he would not (could not) talk. I would sit next to him and all he wanted to do was hold her leash. He would reach out to Sonoma but had a hard time with his motor skills so I instead gave him a treat to hold flat in the palm of his hand and set it in his lap. Sonoma gently nibbled it out of his palm and I would see a glint of a smile...he never tired of it and neither did Sonoma!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Go Sonoma!

by sheydamazar
11 months ago | Reply

Sonoma thanks you for your vote! She's the dog that keeps on giving...and hopes to give a dog in need her food for a year even long after she's gone!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Sweet Sonoma!! She made everyone smile and absolutely deserves to win! :)

by vikki.loles
11 months ago | Reply

Thanks for voting for Sonoma!...All these pets are special, but one thing I do know is that Sonoma has met A LOT of people in almost 15 years (at work, at the hospitals, at the library, at the park, on the streets of NY) and she was so sweet and gentle in nature that she DID make everyone smile!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Oh and if Sonoma wins, I'll donate my one year supply of dog food to the shelter!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Sonoma was a wonderful dog. I have the fondest memories of her. One of my favorite memories is when she was the flower girl in your wedding. What a pretty girl! She was so well behaved.

by Lynn O'Donnell
11 months ago | Reply

Gotta love a dog who can make it down the aisle wearing a wreath of flowers, sit still through the ceremony, and warm your heart on the coldest of days! https://www.dropbox.com/s/fowtkrjrmr21916/Sonoma_11.jpg

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Thanks to everyone who has voted for Sonoma! We miss her so much!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

We miss Sonoma too! She was an amazing dog that touched our lives and the hopefully one day, Jack can have a similar companion (Sonoma Jr.?)!

by JOStewart
11 months ago | Reply

Sigh, if only Sonoma had taught me not to stick random "the" in sentences!

by JOStewart
11 months ago | Reply

She was so good with kids too! Did you know she taught kids how to read? Haha...well, kids read to Sonoma without fear or hesitation of being ridiculed by her peers so it allowed them to practice. I would say things like, "I think Sonoma likes that story, but I don't know if she knows what that word means. Can you tell her what it means?" And then they would tell Sonoma...so cute!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

yes! A GREAT dog! Hooray Sonoma!

by beef23
11 months ago | Reply

Oh how she loved being around you guys...How could she not love a guy named BEEF? Next to Sonoma, you were truly one of the happiest beings we knew. And I'm pretty sure you responded to treats as well :P Thanks!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Good dog is an understatement, Sonoma was a GREAT
dog.

by Kimchee13
11 months ago | Reply

And it's so great that you really got to know her! I brought her to work for what -- close to 5 years in New York? She had such a great time being around so many people every day (and under your desk). It was a puppy's paradise! Little did she know she was relieving all of our stress. Bringing a dog to work has more benefit than people realize...

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Can dogs be mentors? I really think that Sonoma was a mentor to my dog -- she had such a calming, yet joyous influence on my crazy young dog. Sonoma would even let Maddie sleep in her bed! How sweet is that?? Sonoma (the happiest dog in the world) was a great friend to me and my dog and we were very lucky to have known her.

by jarak08
11 months ago | Reply

It's so comforting to know that Sonoma is living on in everyone (every pup) she met! Sonoma would be so proud that you and Maddie felt that way about her! Thank you!

by BernadettenanetteNYC
11 months ago | Reply

Pink-ribbon-award-box-icon
Award_topvotedidea
$1,500
Circle-1-inactive Step1-title-submission-inactive

Submission Began
Wednesday, July 31

Submission Ended
Wednesday, August 14
at 12:00 PM PDT

Circle-2-inactive Step2-title-voting-inactive

Voting Began
Tuesday, September 03

Voting Ended
Tuesday, September 17
at 12:00 PM PDT

Circle-3 Step3-title
Jeanette Cereske
Jeanette Cereske

Winner Announced
Tuesday, October 01

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