Monday, June 27, 2011

First dog, Good dog!

Diva - Nov 1999—June 2011
First of all, thanks to everyone who contributed in money and/or kind words when Diva broke her leg. The leg healed fine but somewhere about two weeks ago, she developed a lump on the front of the shoulder of the broken leg that we thought, at first, was the bone calcifying. Turns out, it was cancer. Within the space of two weeks, the tumor became so enormous, Diva stopped walking on her leg completely. In the last three to four days, it got to the point where she could barely walk at all. In addition, all the other little doggie lumps on her that she's had for years, they, too, started to enlarge. So, this afternoon, we helped her leapfrog over the rest of the pain and misery and run to Doggie Heaven (and all the rest of the animals!).

Thanks to my vet, LW, for being so practical and honest about everything and helping us with this. Thanks also, to my friend, Robbin for letting Maggie and Pooch have their illicit fling nearly twelve years ago and produce the litter that included a brown puppy with long white evening gloves on her front legs. Out of the eight to ten puppies in that litter, Robbin encouraged me to take one home. "You need a dog," she told me. I had picked out a brown and white patched puppy but it was shy and avoided me. And where ever I walked in her barn, this one brown puppy with long white legs kept escaping her pen following me around the barn. I thought, "She's picking me, better go with mother nature's intuition." "Aw, you picked the prettiest one!" Robbin protested.  I offered to give her back but Robbin said no. So she came home with me and howled outside the bathroom window when I was taking a shower, lamenting our separation. She sang beautifully. She demanded attention. She became Diva.

First dog!
Diva was my very first dog. Growing up in an apartment north of NYC, Mom wouldn't let us have a dog so we always had cats. One after the other. Until Butch, the last one and she lasted 19 years. There's the story that my older siblings wanted a dog so badly that when Mom told them they'd be getting a special Christmas present in 1962, they were certain it was a puppy. Imagine their disappointment when I showed up.
Leader dog.
She's had twelve fun years on Sand Hill, chasing rabbits, and unfortunately, catching and eating them as well, along with groundhogs, possum and other small critters strategically deposited in the yard so we would not miss the latest bounty and gift. She would always sit proudly nearby, not touching it and making sure neither Maxx nor Sport touched it either. Then, she would let it rot, cook, dehydrate, you name it, and eventually ingest it, confirming that specialized dog food is a marketing ploy aimed at the owners and not the dogs. Diva enjoyed eating anything, no matter how putrid, and took anything from my hand, she trusted me so much, she was swallowing before the food even hit her mouth. She brought home many presents from neighbors' garbage and supplemented her meals with whatever trash can or dumpster she could get into. To the unknown neighbors/contributors, I apologize. But she sure enjoyed it and, I'm sure, thanked you again and again!

Happy dog!
Opposite dog.
Diva defined "dog" for me, being the first. I love Sport and Maxx, too, for lovable canine qualities, but Diva will always hold a special place in my heart because she was my first doggie love. 

Love for everyone!
I was hoping the leg break would leave her gimpy but at least, give her another year of sun and rolling around on her back. Not to be. The leg break definitely happened due to some trauma; the bruising around the ulna joint was testament to that, but did the cancer weaken a bone that otherwise would not have broken? Did the break, trauma, subsequent surgery and recovery kick-start and accelerate the cancer lurking in her body? Can't really say and ultimately, it doesn't matter.

One last slurp!
I've cried my eyes out this past week, knowing what was coming. As a pet owner, I feel total responsibility for their care and well-being. Because I could not stop the cancer's progression, the only thing I could do was help her transition more quickly and avoid the deterioration and progressing pain. In some ways, I guess I kept wishing she would just be stiff as a board when I woke up. I think I could have handled that better. Now we have buried treasure in our yard, $700 in titanium parts in a dog's leg. (Can we recycle this thing??) We also have years of doggie love and kisses and lots of memories. She has altered my experience of the world and that's the best part of all.

There is a poem that we used to send in a sympathy card to clients at the vet clinic where I used to work years ago, called "The Rainbow Bridge." Google it, I can't bear to post the link. My friend, Tammy, who worked with me, asked, "Have you ever read it? Read it," and handed it to me. I had to turn away and walk into the next room to finish reading the poem after two lines because I started bawling my eyes out. It gets so bad for me that even saying "The Rainbow Bridge" gets me choked up. It's such a sappy, happy fantasy of losing an animal friend and the hope that they'll be fine and you'll see them again but it works on every emotion I've got. So you'll have to find it on your own. I have decided, though, that, as an atheist with a general buddhist philosphy, I have no need for heaven or hell, god or gods. Having said that, if I was made to pick a fantasy belief system and a final destination when I die, I've decided I'm going across the Rainbow Bridge to Animal Heaven. Much more fun there.

That's all, folks!


  1. Bawling. All over my keyboard. Thanks for sharing this with us Cindi. It's beautiful, and detailed, and the most perfect memorial for an animal that most humans can learn from. Sending you huge waves of love and kisses from a human who loves you dearly. (Tim and I both!)

  2. from your ending comments regarding religion, it certainly sounds like you're much more of an agnostic than an atheist! Faith is something that you cannot easily define my friend........and it certainly isn't a hard fact that can be explained in a scientific manner.....

  3. If you're "Anonymous," you're not "my friend" but thanks for playing! Have a nice day!

  4. We are so sorry. We had no idea that you had to put Diva down. I was in tears reading your doggie blog. What a shame that the cancer accelerated or frankly, that she had cancer at all. What a great tribute to Diva. She was such a nice dog.

  5. Beautiful tribute. Moving for any pet owner who has had to go through that experience.

  6. Oh, Cynthia, I just read this, and I'm so sorry. Nothing more heartbreaking and more unselfish than letting a beloved companion go easy when we want to hold on so much. Diva and you were certainly fortunate to have found and loved each other all those years. I'm grateful that her experiences brought me to you and your art.

  7. Thanks, Becky. I'm also happy that you got to be a part of her Great Adventure :)

  8. And thanks, Anna, Pat and Verne, Paul :)