Sparkle’s neighbors in Somerville, Massachusetts all knew her. The dog spent her days lazing around in her front yard next to a sign that introduced her and a bottle of hand sanitizer for germ-free pets. People walking by were encouraged to stop and give her some much-deserved attention.
For the past month, Sparkle rested under a new sign, one that revealed her unfortunate diagnosis. The 11-year-old had an incurable cancer in her upper jaw.
Sparkle’s mom, Melora Rush, said she put the original signs out during the pandemic in 2020, as the pup loved sleeping in the yard and greeting passersby. Rush wanted to introduce Sparkle to the neighborhood and let them know she’s very social.
“She loves it. She usually sits right out by the sign. And just waits for her fan club.”
And Sparkle absolutely does have a fan club. Many neighbors made it part of their regular routine to stop by her house and say hello.
Sparkle’s Diagnosis And New Signs
After years of bringing joy to the neighbors, Sparkle and her family got the sad news in October of 2021. Rush explained:
“We knew she had a serious infection in her jaw earlier this summer. We treated that with various antibiotics but it continued to be a problem. A second biopsy, about a month ago, revealed the tumor in her jaw.”
Rush updated Sparkle’s signs, knowing her fans would want to give her extra support during her illness.
“I just wanted the neighbors to be aware of what was happening because it’s going to be a big loss for Somerville and this community.”
The text on the new sign read:
“It is time to give Sparkle extra love. Sparkle has cancer in her upper jaw, which sadly cannot be cured. She is being treated as needed with antibiotics (for secondary infection) and pain medications. Sparkle is 11 years old and has given joy and comfort to many in the neighborhood. We hope she will continue to be with us for several more months, but we cannot know.”
The sign also noted that Sparkle may not always be outside if she isn’t feeling well.
“Depending on her daily condition, she may be spending more time inside these days. If you see her outside please continue to love her (gently), but avoid touching the side of her face, because it may be swollen and sensitive, and there may be some bleeding.”
The Fan Club Grows In Sparkle’s Final Days
After photographer Eric Magnussen shared photos of Sparkle’s new signs on Twitter, her fan club grew past her zip code. Rush created a Twitter account for Sparkle: @MayorSparkle, as she was known around her ‘hood. Sparkle’s dad also made a blog to update fans on her whereabouts.
People would leave love notes and gifts for Sparkle in the family’s mailbox. More people than ever were stopping by to give and receive gentle kisses.
Kieran Taylor, student at a local college, enjoyed visiting Sparkle over the years. He told Western Journal that he wasn’t alone in this:
“It’s nice that she’s getting such a great send off. When I showed up to pet her yesterday, there was already someone there doing the same. She saw me and said ‘oh Sparkle, your next guest is here!’ She’s just a sweet girl getting the love and attention she deserves.”
Another neighbor, Joe Szafarowicz, told CBS News:
“I heard the news online that Sparkle was diagnosed with cancer and after having a good cry with my partner I just thought, just say hi, it felt like the right thing to do.”
Goodbye To Sparkle
Sadly, Somerville lost its unofficial mayor on November 18th, 2021. In a goodbye blog post, her family wrote:
“Sparkle was sweet and loving to the very end. Thank you to her many friends and fans for giving her so much love, day after day for the past ten years. And thank you everyone else who didn’t get to meet her in person, but still sent such kind wishes these past several days.”
Her presence in Somerville will be so greatly missed, but she did bring lots of joy for the last decade. Rest in peace sweet girl.