Teddy’s Second Family

By M.C. Sungaila, Jane Sungaila, November 2010, Updated February 2015

Teddy (center) in an image from calendars featuring the family dogs created by Jane Sungaila for her real estate clients.

Teddy came to us late in life, at the age of 14. His owner Charlie was one of my mother’s real estate clients. When Charlie became ill and close to death, he called my mother. He knew she loved Bichon Frises like Teddy. (My mother had two Bichons already, who were featured in calendars she sent to clients like Charlie every year.) Charlie’s relatives did not share his love of animals, however, and he feared that when he died they would get rid of Teddy. One of Charlie’s last acts was calling my mother and getting her to promise she would take Teddy when he died.

My mother arrived home with Teddy under her arm. Teddy was blind, overweight, possibly deaf and ill-shorn. Unfamiliar with his surroundings, he tended to bump his head into walls and then quietly back up and redirect himself. On his first afternoon with us, my father “fished Teddy out of the drink” twice. He moved faster than my father could catch him and twice fell into the family pool.
His first night in his new home, Teddy lay right on top of my mother’s leg, staying close to the person who had saved him. Before the lights went out for the night, our other two dogs looked at my mother as if to say, “Is that one staying?” She told them he was. After that, they never bothered him. They seemed to sense our family was Teddy’s last chance
Under my parents’ care, Teddy slimmed down and grew thick, handsome hair. He turned out not to be deaf; a good ear cleaning fixed his hearing problems. Teddy stuck to the areas of the house he knew—two rooms on the lower floor—and only occasionally would get stuck behind furniture and have to back himself out. He never complained and was invariably sweet and even-tempered. Teddy joined the other two dogs at the end of each day, waiting at the front steps to greet my mother when she came home from work. And all three dogs appeared in my mother’s calendar. 
Teddy lived with our family for the remaining four years of his life. His calm acceptance of his situation and trust in us to do the right thing by him set the tone for his time with us. His gentle way of adjusting to what life brought him continues to inspire us.



M.C. Sungaila is a lawyer in Los Angeles. She and her parents now have one Bichon in their lives, Gigi, who was also Machi's longtime friend.