Fiona the Sharbrador, 1997-2011
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.