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March 7, 1993 - May 12, 2007As some of you know, my dearest friend and devoted canine companion of 10 years, Abbey, was diagnosed with terminal cancer last september. After pallative treatment of chemo and radiation in October, and several efforts at staving off infections with various antibiotics (and yet making sure she has a positive quality of life), at the age of 14, she is finally leaving me.
A jack russell terrier with tons of attitude who was smart as a whip and equally as beautiful, her absence will leave a hole in more lives than just my own.
Not everyone understands what the love of a dog can do for your life. I am thankful that I do. Abbey basically saved mine by coming into my world at a point when I was suffering from severe depression and a broken heart and was painfully lonely.
I never had any pets growing up. Well, okay, not entirely true. I did have some of those tiny turtles in a plastic bowl with a fake palm tree and a hamster named Cream Puff, but never knew what it was like to have a pet who curled up with you during an afternoon nap or licked your face in the morning to wake you. The birthday wish I made as I closed my eyes and blew out the candles from age 5 to age 16 was to have a dog.
I'm forever grateful to my friend Kim, who was Abbey's original mommy but whose life at the time was complicated and wasn't the best for raising a dog. She saw that I needed something to love and she generously let me adopt Abbey in 1998. Not once did she ever ask for Abbey back nor during her numerous and frequent visits over the following years, did she make me feel like Mommy #2. Because of her generosity, I had the wonderful unparalleled experience of having Abbey for 10 years.
Abbey and I drove across the country, just the two of us, twice. She was my partner in strange hotels and adventures in towns I had previously never seen. The perfect road trip companion, she never wanted to change the radio and not once asked "Are we there yet?". She helped make every unfamiliar place comforting. She gave me strength to do things I'd never undertake alone.
I moved to Michigan for work in 2003 and returned in 2006. Part of what made that experience endurable and void of homesickness was Abbey. Wherever she was became home to me.
It will be hard to adjust to life without Abbey. In the past ten years there were very few nights she did not sleep tucked under the covers with me. More often than not, hers was the last face I saw before going to sleep and the first face I saw as I woke. But, like all living things, no matter how wonderful, she cannot grace the world forever.
She is being peacefully euthanized today in the comfort of her home, in the safety of my arms. And someday, someday I hope to see her again, to hold her, to let her nuzzle her snout in my neck and to give her kisses on the belly. Until then I can happily say I have no regrets. None at all. I'm so happy that I spoiled her rotten, put her needs before mine, and spent every penny on everything from gourmet dog food, beautiful collars, the finest medical care and all those deposits for hotel rooms.
It was completely worth it.
Goodbye Sweet Abbey.
Below are a few of my favorite pictures from the past ten years:
Portrait, 2002 photo by Jon Pearce
The perfect passenger, road trip 2003
Luxuriating in bed, 2006
Napping in a hotel in Sante Fe, 2006
Yesterday: Abbey sleeping peacefully on the porch the last day before her death.