“And I believe that angels breathe;
And that love will live on and never leave.” ~ Josh Groban
Thursday. Right now, you are sleeping at the foot of my bed, so weak tonight that I had to carry you up the stairs. So weak that you could not take your tablets and I had to dribble water into your mouth from a bottle to help you swallow. It has been three days since you’ve eaten anything. On Monday you ate a little braised lamb that I made for you, but by Tuesday you wouldn’t touch it. And not roasted chicken and not canned dog food and not jarred baby food. We changed your prescriptions on Tuesday. You should be responding by now, but you’re not.
But every time I think I should stop trying and let you go, you find some way to tell me that you’d like to try a little bit more. I wish you would stay with me, and I keep begging you to try a little bit harder.
A friend of mine asked me a few weeks ago how I could be bonded to each of my dogs when there are so many of you. I don’t know how, but I am. I have a unique attachment to each one of you. I suppose that the emotions that I don’t have so readily available in the majority of my human relationships I have in abundance for you, which is why I need you to stay.
This began on November 23, 2010, when one careless person could not muster enough effort to close the slide bolt on the barn door and your brother, Djordan escaped and never came home again. I was teaching in the city and no one bothered to call me until he had been missing for over two hours. Djordan was struck by a car two blocks from home. Although he was wearing two collars with tags, the person who hit him left him like trash in the middle of the road. It was two days before Thanksgiving and Ariel and I cried non stop for Djordan for four straight days. I hope that failure to close a gate didn’t kill you both
The onset of Addison’s disease is almost always triggered by a traumatic event. You had no way to know that your brother had been killed, but after a week, you started to crash. Within thirty days, you were not eating. You grew an entire layer of white hairs beneath your black coat, and you wouldn’t get up. The vet confirmed Addison’s and it took several weeks to bring you back around, but you’ve never been the same. You aged so much from that event.
You have never been a quitter. You’ve overcome more adversity than any other dog in our household. You were originally placed in a home not far from us with an older, spayed female named Batna. When you were five months old, an intruder broke into that home. Batna attacked him. but you both escaped and were at large for several days. Then the couple that had you developed marital problems and the husband threw you out. Animal control picked you up. Your prior family refused to come and get you. So I came and got you until I could return you to Ermine because she was having back surgery. And you became my first “foster failure.”
You weren’t even here for a month before you broke your leg being chased by Djordan in the back yard. Because I love you, I am not going to try to recall how much it cost to have your leg surgically repaired with a plate and screws. The break never healed correctly and now it has arthritis to boot. But you get around okay.
Of course you hated vets after that. You were not crazy about people in general. If I said your name,
you ran from me, so I started calling you Djingo instead of Dakir.
Back in those days, when I took you to dog class, you had to be muzzled because you were so fearful that you would try to nail anyone who looked at you directly and placed themselves within striking distance. Your temperament was so good, though, that when I finally persuaded you that no one would hurt you, you became the consummate show dog, the best show dog I’ve ever had the privilege of accompanying in the ring. You were a real showman, tail wagging the whole time and at the end of a class, you always jumped into my arms.
I have to brag about you a little. You overcame your ring fears so well that you went on to become an all-breed Best-in-Show Winner, a multiple Best-in-Specialty-Show winner, the first UKC Grand Champion Sloughi in history; you won 13 Group Firsts, multiple Group Placements, and 28 Bests of Breed. You were the #1 UKC Sloughi for 2006 and you were the UKC Top Ten Best of Breed Winner for 2006. You were the #1 Sloughi in the US for 2007 in ASLA, UKC and ARBA. And in 2007, your son won the ASLA National Specialty and your daughter was the UKC Top Ten Best of Breed Winner. You never let me down in the ring, and you loved being a show dog.
But the best part about you didn’t happen in the show ring. It never does. The best part about you is that you are a smart, sweet, and loving member of our family. You’ve been a great watch dog. You’ve scared peculiar strangers off from Ariel and me. (Sometimes you did so when we did not think we were in any great peril, but we trusted your judgment.) And you are my friend. I don’t want you to go.
Saturday. A couple of days have elapsed since Thursday when I started writing this letter. It’s now Saturday night. You ate a little chicken on Thursday night and a little more on Friday. Today, I got you to eat three meals of roasted chicken, but they are very small meals. It’s not enough to sustain you. Nonetheless, your eyes are a little shinier and you seem to have a tiny bit more energy. I’m still waiting for you to pass that point when I know that you are heading with purpose out of the woods. I really hope it’s soon because I don’t know how much longer you can go like this. I am going to keep trying and I will write again when I know.