Community Stories Pets

Sonny Days Brighten Spirits

When Gary Lloyd, an Alabama writer, and his wife, Jessica, decided they needed one more dog, they went to the Greater Birmingham Humane Society just to look around. As is the case with most trips to the animal shelter, they didn’t come home alone. 

“It had been a long time since either of us had adopted a dog,” Gary said. “We spent a couple hours there, circling the kennels and plexiglass cases the puppies are in. We had all but given up on finding a dog that day until we stumbled upon a narrow hallway we had not at first seen. We followed it and found more puppies on this sort of back hallway area. We found Sonny almost immediately. He was in one of those tiny enclosures, and he was sleeping on his sister. We loved him immediately. It seemed meant to be. Jessica and I seem(ed) to say, ‘He’s the one,’ simultaneously.”

The day they adopted Sonny was his first day off stray hold, making it sheer fate that the Lloyds stumbled upon him that day. 

There were some complications, though. Sonny had megaesophagus and aspiration pneumonia — usually a death sentence for a dog — but managed to overcome the odds with the help of some TLC, medicines and vet visits. 

“He went through the veterinary gauntlet for months — pills, vet visits, regurgitating almost everything he ate, barium swallow treatments, X-rays,” Gary said. “All of it. But the crazy part is that at home, despite all these daily, sometimes hourly, challenges, Sonny didn’t let it get him down. He played. He barked, even if it ended in hacking. He consoled us instead of what should’ve been the other way around. So, he has shown me that patience truly is a virtue, that staying the course in life despite adversities we encounter can be done, and done well. He has taught me to live for the moment, that the next adventure doesn’t have to be reached by airplane, train or boat. Sometimes, that next great adventure is a stroll around the house or at a trail three miles from home.”

On top of that, he was always there for the Lloyd family, even as they grew to include a baby boy. 

“Sonny has been through it all with us in his first five years,” Gary said. “He’s been through unexpected job changes. He’s been through a house move, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but this dog is an absolute creature of habit and saddens when a rug is moved. He’s been at our sides through loss and adversity. He’s been with us for the birth of our first child. He’s experienced so much of our own life changes, and he’s always been there to pick us up when we’re down and make our smiles widen a bit more in the good times.” 

Gary has authored several other books, so it was a natural fit to write down all the life lessons he’s learned from Sonny. You can read more about Sonny’s life in Gary’s newest book, Sonny Days: Struggles, Scenery and Solace with the World’s Strangest Shelter Dog, available in paperback on for $15 and on Kindle as an eBook for $5.99. 

About the author


Jessie Harbin

Jessie lives in Meridianville with her husband, baby and four dogs. She thrives on chaos, and loves finding good news stories where you least expect them.

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