Fossey Lynn Sugarbaker

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story and photos by Chris Reeder Young

Fossey Lynn Sugarbaker was born January 16, 2013, a Capricorn. Her namesake is primatologist and conservationist, Dian Fossey.

Fossey was part of a yippy litter of awkward Dr. Pepper colored hound puppies that were dropped off at Memphis Animal Services. I don’t think I had ever heard a yowling, hollerin’’ puppy until I heard Fossey demanding to be picked up by every person that passed by her adoption kennel. I visited other puppies and awaited the AHA bond, but I just kept hearing that squawkin’’ southern drawl pup who would become my Fossey.

I love watching her run, hunt, and play. She loves kids (hates puppies and little dogs). She adores her grandparents and always signs their birthday cards by herself. She has endless aunts and uncles who love her. She’s a protector and well trained unless you’re trying to get her off the couch too early in the morning.

I was proud of her when she conquered her fear of balloons or learns a new thing. It thrilled me beyond belief when she met a camel, cow, goat, and a bison and didn’t try to eat a single one of them. She sniffed out my wife on our first date, and we both tell Fossey that we love her each day.

Even vaccinated, Fossey got parvo when she was a puppy. She stayed at the vet for 7 days fighting for her life. I sold belongings, got support from friends, and took out a line of credit to pay for her care. When they couldn’t do anything else for her, they sent her home where she slept on my head each night until she was well. She bounced back from ACL surgery a few years ago. I felt like my heart and soul had been shredded wide open during these times, watching her struggle was very hard.

Being in nature with my wife and our Fossey are some of my favorite moments of my life. Rescuing and adoption made those moments possible for me, for her, and many other pet parents and pets in the Mid-South. It’s always been my motto that taking on a pet is a massive responsibility, and Fossey is easily included in our future. I’m thankful for the rescues and people who work to make adoptions possible and to make one of the most unconditional loves I’ve ever known possible.

I knew I never wanted children, but I never expected to be a dog mama (cat and guinea pig mama, most definitely). She brings me hope, joy, and enthusiasm during the most pivotal times of my life, and she’s cuddling me as I write this. I wish I could thank the person who brought her hollerin’ self into the shelter that day, because it was a moment that changed me forever.