It’s difficult to choose the right words that will truly encapsulate the life of a legend. A legend whose boundless love and unmatched dedication took him on endless adventures in his thirteen years in this world. Our lives changed when a little blue heeler pup confidently strode out of his litter, despite the ongoing cries from his mother and siblings. From that day onward Sonny Boy was an adventurer, spending the days and nights following his father and his horse around the ranch, carefully soaking up all the sights, sounds, and knowledge that would soon take him on hundreds of captivating cattle and horse roundups. He would one day pass this on to his protégé. At a tender age of one month, Sonny made his first journey to the bright lights of New York City. Two thousand miles of grueling country were no match for the puppy with an inextinguishable willpower in his heart. He would make this journey almost 50 times in his life, familiarizing himself each road sign, exit, twist, and turn of the interstate with remarkable accuracy. He would swim through the powerful channels of the Missouri, and explore the deep woods of Pennsylvania, vigilantly watching for any deer that would come too close to the highway. Soon, Sonny’s exuberant personality coupled with his soulful eyes and affectionate bear hugs warmed the hearts of everyone who crossed paths with him. It was no doubt that in times of sorrow, there was nothing more we needed than to see the understanding in the depths of Sonny’s deep brown eyes. He left those around him in awe with the keenness and excellence at which he completed the challenges he was faced with, whether it be effortlessly navigating the tricky maple trees and choppy waters of New York City, or masterfully breaking up fights and guiding his horses and livestock to safety on his South Dakota ranch. He was our protector, every morning watching and patrolling each corner of his ranch ensuring that every one of us were safe from unwanted trespassers or wily coyotes. In one instance, he chased our camper, which unbeknownst to him had been sold minutes before, for miles down the road till his father found out and brought him back home. He knew his purpose and pursued it passionately up until the very end. On a hot summer day, a mere three days after returning from another trip across the country to pick up his girl, Sonny, protecting his family for one last time, took two hits from a vicious rattlesnake. It was not his first but his second encounter with a rattlesnake, and we were all hopeful for his recovery. Despite the fatigue creeping through his body, he pushed through and welcomed two new horses to the ranch, a tradition, and accompanied his family on one last outing. At the end, Sonny knew it was his time to go. He passed peacefully in his own home surrounded by those who love him beyond what can be expressed with words. He left knowing that he had passed on all he could to his eldest son Percy, who would now lead in Sonny’s paw prints. Adorned in the American flag atop his grieving horse Drifter, Sonny was carried to his final place of rest in a procession fit for a soul as lively and a heart as filled with love as Sonny’s was. Today, he rests peacefully under the mound where he had his first encounter with a rattle snake, a beautiful bold white cross and draping American flag signifying the passing of a true American legend. Sonny Boy was an explorer, a leader, a teacher, a best friend, and a father – he was the piece that completed our family. Each one of us carry all we have learned about love, determination, and tenacity from the thirteen years we had with Sonny. Although no soul can fill the vacuum that he left in his passing, we rest assured knowing that he’s still watching us with his grandfather from above, protecting his people and his ranch. He was our protector in life and is our guardian angel in death. In the end, Sonny Boy raised his children, loved his family, and remained fiercely loyal with an unparalleled grace and dignity till he drew his very last breath.