Remembering Sonny Liston Mills

Sonny Liston Mills, (aka Sonny Buns, Sonny O. Buns, Sonny B., and Sons O’Buns) was born as a Boxer breed on an unknown date in a puppy mill in July of 2014 and left his body peacefully on April 19, 2023, after an aggressive and quick journey through cancer.

Sonny was rescued by his family on April 4, 2015. Sonny had not known the love of family before; therefore, it was a challenge for him to learn to trust humans. He was fearful, shy, and anxious. His fear of humans told us much about his early life. Sonny was happiest when he could meet another dog on his daily walks or when visiting other families with dogs.

Sonny arrived at his family not knowing how to play or relax. Over time, with the love of the Mills family and extended family and friends, Sonny gradually began to learn how to be with people, play with toys, tug of war and fetch, then wrestle with his human buddies, Oscar and Remy. The arrival of his stepsister Roxy (also a Boxer) in 2021, added to Sonny’s confidence as he was always most comfortable with other dogs. Sonny learned to appreciate treats and learned to shake hands, sit, and lay down.

Sonny learned to stay close to home after he was let out for a quick pee, wandered down to the pond in the dark and snow, and then fell through the ice. Sonny swam to the other side while Rob and Laura jumped in the car and searched for him. Sonny tried for hours to find his way home but became anxious, scared, and confused with all the twists and turns of the streets. He would be sighted by Rob and Laura but was too frantic to stop running. Finally, after many hours, and the family out searching and calling out into the wee hours, they returned home to find him sitting on the back steps, soaking wet and exhausted. It appeared he decided to jump back into the pond and swim his way home. He slept the entire next day and thereafter he would gaze at the pond in a contemplative manner but never get too close.

Sonny learned to appreciate one of the fine advantages of being human—the bed. When Laura would wake up in the night to use the bathroom, Sonny would crawl into her warm spot, lay his head on her pillow with his legs dangling off the side and snore away with Laura having to fight for space on her return.

In August 2016, an impromptu marriage ceremony was held for Sonny Liston Mills and Penny Dehler. A quick romance with a ceremony and dance party hosted by his young human friends, Charlotte, Severin, Oscar, and Remy, ensued at the Bruce and Diane Hughes farm. While Sonny and Penny never lived together their delight in each other was always strong.

Sonny will be remembered for his sweet nature, his big heart, his curiosity, and his friendly attitude that was nurtured to grow as he healed from his early days. He made great strides in allowing people to pet him and to cuddle. Overall, Sonny learned to trust, as much as he could allow himself. While I did not live with Sonny, I will remember most his growing from wanting to be petted by me but then quickly running away as I put out my hand, to feeling safe coming to me for pets and love, then resting his head on my feet under the dinner table as he napped.

Sonny left his mark on those who loved him, Rob, Laura, Oscar, and Remy, as well as extended family and friends, his beloved Penny, and his backyard deer friends who quietly enjoyed his visits to them. Sonny was a “good boy”, a good brother, a good friend, and a good granddog. You did well Sonny! You always made us laugh. You will be missed.

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.” 

Milan Kundera

Ongoing Reading List: Reading for Heart and Mind

  • The Four Agreements: A Toltec Book of Wisdom by Don Miguel Ruiz
  • Mindfulness and Grief by Heather Stang
  • How We Live Is How We Die by Pema Chödron
  • The Bhagavad Gita, Translated by Eknath Easwaran
  • St Francis of Assisi: Brother of Creation by Mirabai Starr
  • Wild Wisdom Edited by Neil Douglas-Klotz
  • Earth Prayers From Around The World, Ed by Elizabeth Roberts & Elias Amidon
  • The Tao of Relationships by Ray Grigg
  • Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’Donohue
  • Unconditional Love and Forgiveness by Edith R. Stauffer, Ph.D.
  • Keep Going: The Art of Perseverance by Joseph M. Marshall III
  • Art & Fear by David Bayless & Ted Orland
  • Quantum-Touch by Richard Gordon
  • The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Persons Path Through Depression by Eric Maisel, PhD
  • The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit
  • Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris
  • Forever Ours: Real Stories of Immortality and Living by Janis Amatuzio
  • Personal Power Through Awareness by Sanaya Roman
  • Violence & Compassion by His Holiness the Dahlai Lama
  • Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Devotions by Mary Oliver
  • To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue
  • Meditations From the Mat by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison
  • The House of Belonging: poems by David Whyte
  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness, by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit
  • Soul an Archaeology Edited by Phil Cousineau
  • A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield
  • Listening Point by Sigurd Olson
  • I Sit Listening to the Wind by Judith Duerk
  • Dancing Moons by Nancy Wood
  • The Soul of Rumi, Translations by Coleman Barks
  • Keep Going by Joseph M. Marshall III
  • Arriving at your own Door by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
  • The Hidden Secrets of Water by Paolo Consigli
  • Conquest of Mind by Eknath Easwaran
  • Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay
  • Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) by Brene Brown
  • Practicing Peace in Times of War by Pema Chodron
  • When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
  • On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
  • Unattended Sorrow by Stephen Levine
  • Joy in Loving, Mother Theresa
  • The Joy of Living by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
  • Let Your LIfe Speak by Parker Palmer
  • Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • The Essence of the Upanishads by Eknath Easwaran
  • Welcoming the Unwelcome by Pema Chodron
  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through The Ways Of Animals by Jamie Sams and David Carson

Author: Mindful Contemplations

A weekly blog, in prose, poetry, or memoir, finding the sacred within the ordinary day to day experience. I offer inspiration and contemplation on the soul journey of the human spirit, diving deep and surfacing with hope.

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