Dog is My Copilot

Dogs are great. Dogs are good. So is California. What more needs be said?

Fiona, we miss you, you were the definitive California dog.

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Bon Voyage Fiona, May You Chase Bunnies Forever

Fiona the Sharbrador, 1997-2011

Fiona at RestFiona Celebrating Chrismas
Update We brought Fiona’s ashes home today (10/7/2011). She’ll join our golden retriever, Chrissie, on the shelf. Her journey is done. Welcome home Fi, welcome home.

Also, thanks to the over 200 people who visited this page (including someone from Hanoi) and to those leaving condolences. Most of you didn’t know Fiona or me, but you were genuinely touched by her death. I don’t know whether that’s a tribute to the kindness of strangers or the uniqueness that made Fiona, Fiona.

The veterinarian, through teary eyes, mixed up a special treat for your last meal. A ‘doggie pate’ with several of your favorite kinds of meat. You ate it with a gusto I hadn’t seen in months. As you ate, the vet gave you a sedative while Mom and I petted you in all the places you loved the most – the ears, the bridge of your big shar pei nose (the one that set the vet’s record for sucking up foxtails, 4 at once and you never whimpered). You were happy and content and, for a moment, became young again. Your tail wagged and it was good to see you still alive deep within your old and failing body. Young Fiona, if only for a moment, was back.

As you ate, you began to relax and drift off. You closed your eyes and began to snore. The big thunderous snore that rattled the windows. No matter how many times you disturbed our own sleep, I always loved that sound. It was the snore of a young heart, a big heart, and healthy lungs. It gave me a comfort to know you were there.

The doctor returned with the last shot, a big needle filled with pink fluid. Mom said her goodbyes and left. It was too hard to watch you go.

I stayed with the doctor and we both sat beside you trying to get the courage to release you from your pain. Suddenly, you began to bark softly in your sleep, a soft happy yap as you’d dreamed a thousand times before. Chasing bunnies we’d always called it. Your tail wagged wildly and your legs pumped like a pup. You panted under the phantom exertion and ran like the wind. You seemed low and sleek and faster that I thought possible. You were dreaming the dreams of your youth for the last time.

The doctor began to release the pink fluid and your running slowed until it stopped. I watched your side to see when you would leave us and soon you relaxed and was gone.

Fiona, thanks for all the love you gave Claire and Mom and Me. Thanks for the 2 raccoons, 3 opossums, and even the two skunks you dragged to us. Thanks for allowing me to pet you for hours on end. Your hair always soothed me and made my hands tingle. Thanks for the slight musky-sweet odor of your coat and the thousands of times we stopped whatever we were doing and watched you be a dog who wanted nothing more than to please us and love us. You never let us down.

I’m pretty sure there is no heaven – at least for people – but I’m not so sure about the animals like you who come into our lives. It’s tempting to imagine you in a place where you can run and play and be a dog forever. A place where I can imagine you and you can remember us. I hope I’m right about that.

Good luck in that place little one. May you live a life full of only the best. You deserve it.

Here’s hoping there’ll be an unending supply of bunnies to chase in the sun, low and sleek and fast as you run across the Elysian Fields.

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The Week That Wasn’t So Good

Fiona the Family Sharbrador

OF DOGS AND PISS - Fiona, the family Sharbrador after leaving a personal message for Gadget, the family rat.

Note: This post is excerpted from a letter, entitled One Saturday Morning, I wrote to friends on February 22, 1999. It was originally posted several years ago, but vanished from the Poobah archives because of the incompetence of my former web host. Welcome back.

Dear Correspondents,

My luck this week has not been good. Thursday morning I began the day by being pissed upon – twice. I don’t mean pissed upon in the metaphoric sense, but in the quite real wet and messy sense.

Let me explain.

The littlest Poobah called me to her room to reattach her pet rat’s water bottle to the side of his tank. Since he kept trying to escape while I was doing this I transferred him to his temporary holding cage. During the transfer he whizzed on my hands. As I went to wash them, our Sharbrador dog, Fiona, went into a terrific territory marking induced squat. When I grabbed her by the neck scruff to stop her, she managed to sprinkle me with Eau de Urine No. 2.

Not an auspicious way to start the day, but still better than a chap I heard about on the radio the other day. A Nigerian economist walking to work in Lagos, fell into an open and unmarked hole at a construction site. He was immediately sucked into an open sewer line and was swept to a smelly death somewhere downstream.

The BBC reporter, in a pique of British understatement, described his eventual fate as, “a fate worse than death”.

He has now become something of a cause celebre. Thousands marched on city hall to protest the absence or red caution tape around the hole to protect economists from drowning in excrement. The mayor replied that he had done all he could – the project’s budget just could not accommodate the purchase of 27 feet of red plastic tape. I think this probably speaks volumes about the Nigerian economy in general and about Nigerian construction projects in particular. It seems exactly the sort of thing that an economist might study. Ironic, eh?

Enough of food and body fluids for this morning. Time to return to my Saturday morning. I hope this finds all of you well.

Your Omnipotence,


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