1993, a dog, died 2010, now an angel
Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards
My Amy is in heaven now and with me even more than when we were
together. She breathed her last the night I presented my cabaret in Rome and I
firmly believe she ascended to a celestial perch so she could watch the show
from above. I had so hoped she would hang on until I got home so I could hold
her when she took her last breath…but that comfort was not to be mine. My only
consolation is that she died in her sleep after spending the last year resting
up for her new life.
Of all the dogs I have loved, she returned that affection the least and yet I
cannot imagine caring for any living thing more than I did my tiny little girl.
She was always the princess in our house. The other dogs acquiesced to her as
well. They kept their distance as common mortals must in the presence of
She was not a pretty dog to others, but she was to me. She weighed no more than
six pounds in her prime and she looked like a little fox on a bad hair day with
a bedraggled muff around her neck . People would point to her and laugh because
she looked so dishevelled but both she and I knew her true value was in her
character. To me, she was gorgeous in all the ways that matter.
When we traveled, Amy was the one who sat on my lap; the others (and I always
had others) on the seat beside us. When I took longer trips, she was always the
first choice as my companion. I never had to housebreak her. She was too
fastidious to ever leave a puddle on my floor. I knew she would behave wherever
I took her because she did not know HOW to misbehave.
In all the eighteen or more years she ruled our house, she never gave me a kiss
or a cuddle. She allowed me to hug her…even though I knew it was not her choice
to be squeezed. Still, she slept at my feet and I know she expected the kisses
and hugs she received every morning because she waited for them, not moving
until she was properly greeted.
She was a loner and she only marched to her own drummer. She set her own
standards and she adhered to them always. Amy was my aristocrat. She only ate
when she was ready. No rushing to the bowl; no enthusiastic chomping or begging
for table food.
She dined alone away from the other dogs and she never spilled a bit of kibble
on the floor. She chewed her food carefully but unlike my others, it meant
little to her. You could never tempt HER with a dog biscuit.
The others in my family, Dorothy, Donald, Louise and Teddy are desperate for
affection. When I feed them, they wait for a hug and a pat before they dig into
their little red bowls. They are all anxious to be adored and want me to
validate them every day. And they LOVE food. It is their raison d’ętre.
When Louise entered our lives a year ago, Amy mentored her. They shared a bed
and snuggled close to one another, as good friends do. By the time Louise
arrived, Amy could no longer go on walks with us. I feel sure that Louise told
her every adventure we had each day as they cuddled together in the wee hours of
I left home to cross the ocean on the first of May, 2010. I picked her up and
held her to my heart. She was so frail, I could feel every bone in her tiny
body, but her heart was strong as she rested her head against mine. “Hang on,
Amy,” I whispered. “I’ll be back in a month.”
But a month was too long for her little heart to keep beating and her tiny lungs
to give her air. She breathed her last on May 19th.
Amy is in our garden now and still as much a part of my life as she was for
those eighteen years she ruled our roost. She gave me nothing but joy and
demanded only the respect she deserved. She died within a week of her best buddy
and oldest friend, my black cat Tillie, who had to be twenty years old if she
was a day. And the two, cat and dog were much alike. Independent and confident,
they knew they had a right to be honored in our home. Tillie was a housebroken
indoor cat who found her true love, George about 12 years ago. The two bonded
instantly and took up residence on my deck until George left the earth for a
celestial home six years later. From that moment on, Tillie refused to enter the
house. She lived under our front porch with two skunks as her companions.
I ask myself what I learned from my two departed babies and I think it is that
every living thing has the right to be respected for what they bring to the
table. My two needed no justification for their being. They knew their value.
Would that all human beings understood how precious each is in his own way.
Would that we believed that our differences are our gifts. More and more, I am
convinced that humans would be healthier, happier and more productive if they
had that faith in their own exceptional worth. We spend so much energy proving
our merit to ourselves and convincing others that we are all the things we think
they want us to be.
Amy was what she was and never tried to be anything more. She and Tillie
belonged only to themselves and that was the lesson they taught me. Their
independence actually attracted others to them. Their strength was in knowing
who they were and not expecting more of themselves than they cared to give. We
all have a right to exist as we are and we should be proud of ourselves just
because we are. That lesson alone was worth every moment I spent with my little
furry friends and now, in heaven, I know Amy is watching me and saying,
“Remember how I lived my life. Don’t make excuses. Just be.”
It is a terrible thing for an old woman to outlive her dogs.