The Love Dog
It is with breaking hearts that we announce the death of Lee Dog, Lee Manucia Abrahams, the Love Dog, the Center of the Universe.
Lee was euthanized during surgery on June 2, 1995, when it was suddenly revealed that she was suffering from a virulent and advanced cancer of the stomach. She had celebrated her twelfth birthday in April. Lee's discomfort was apparently mild until the day of her death. Lee lived a full and happy life, enriching and nurturing those who loved her. She was whelped on an Easter Sunday in Phoenix, AZ, the only female in the litter of a registered Golden Retriever named Mischka and her handsome neighbor, a traveling man named Tolman Inman.
When only a few weeks old, several of the puppies fell into a swimming pool, but Lee's already burgeoning aquatic skills saved her. When she left her littermates, Lee lived the first few months of her life with her father, Tolman, receiving almost daily visits from Gloria. Lee would ride in the passenger seat of Gloria's Tercel station wagon, an activity and position she enjoyed throughout her life, and would visit Gloria's studio apartment and cockatiel, Paolo. By that young, age Lee had already developed an unexplained passion for French kissing. At three months, Lee moved with Gloria and Paolo to Durango, CO, where Lee learned to enjoy snow. Her steadfastness and sensitivity toward Gloria were high points in Gloria's turbulent life. Not only did she sense whenever Gloria was upset, but she would run to Gloria's side and provide compassion and encouragement. Once when humiliated by the college's test-grading machines, Gloria went home midday in tears to be greeted with Lee's gentle pink-orchid tongue. Gloria often stated, "Men come and go, but Lee Dog is forever."
As Lee's feathering grew in, she came to resemble Tolman but with finer features. She won Best-Looking Pet Award from the local animal shelter. In her puppy socialization class, where she was jokingly referred to as the "Artificial Flatcoat", Lee tied with a Sheltie for first place on the final obedience exam. She enjoyed camping alone with Gloria at Little Molas Lake, a place so beautiful that one always expected to see "Taste the high country" printed in large letters in the sky.
Lee was gentle and tolerant toward Lily, a deaf white kitten whom Gloria adopted for several months until Gloria's allergies forced her removal. Lee was also a gracious older sister to Brandy, a flatulent abused Doberman, Gloria adopted from the local animal shelter, whose untimely demise occurred only months later. With the possible exception of cockatiel Paolo, Lee's best friend was a massive black and tan hound named Bonecrusher.
When Gloria moved to Columbia, SC, for clinical retraining, Lee had the run of a large, azalea-filled yard bordered by a creek. She proudly discovered a dead possum and an angry turtle. A frightening collision with a hit & run driver left no discernible sequelae, except to remind Gloria of the priority of Lee in her life. Lee and Gloria weathered a blizzard driving to NC to meet Gloria's biological half-sister and Norwegian Elkhound nephew Hans. Lee's best friend in SC was a sophisticated and well-traveled terrier named Damon. Trips to Charleston included beach visits for the entire family. Lee also enjoyed chasing crabs on the beaches of Lee Island, NC.
When Gloria moved west for her internship, Lee had to adapt to life in a one-bedroom apartment and to elimination on leash on the sidewalks of Brentwood. She developed a taste for sushi. Attempted evening runs were repeatedly interrupted by the West L.A. Veterans Administration police, but the discovery of an off-leash park in Laurel Canyon was the setting for much ecstatic tail-wagging. Lee and Eliott, a black and white cat next door, developed a respectful, if somewhat distant relationship.
Shortly after Gloria and Lee moved to New Orleans in 1989, a dog who could have been Lee's brother appeared in the newspaper as Pet of the Week. Although timid, Alex made a point of sleeping as close to Gloria as possible, and instead of competing, Lee started to vary her nocturnal resting place, often enjoying the cool linoleum of Joel's bathroom. Alex was more puppy-like and actively playful than his sister, but they enjoyed many a vigorous romp together. When disinclined to play, Lee would show Alex her teeth in a display of mock anger, her ears out to the side making her look like a vampire bat. Of the two, Lee was always dominant and secure in her dignity; only a vacuum cleaner could unnerve her. Alex's lumbering size and unselfconscious drooling contrasted markedly with Lee's delicacy and careful step. Lee's shiny and gently wavy coat showed touches of auburn when in sunlight. As Alex put on weight, his coat became long but straighter and bushier. Whenever Joel and Gloria went out with Alex and Lee, they were met by repeated questions and compliments about the two beautiful, big, black dogs.
Between the two of them, Alex and Lee comprised a formidable canine intellect. Not only was it impossible to touch a leash within the earshot of either dog without starting a riot, but it became necessary to learn to spell aloud when they both learned to recognize any discussion about "going for a walk." When Joel was hospitalized for a few weeks only 5 months into our marriage, Alex and Lee accompanied Gloria on long late-night walks, keeping her safe and listening to her fears and confidences.
Every year the family anticipated in the LA SPCA's benefit activities such as Bark in the Park and Dog Day Afternoon and also had portraits made. One such portrait caught the eye of a young pregnant woman seeking a family for her unborn infant. It is not exaggeration to say that the dogs, especially Lee, played a major role in facilitating the adoption of little Katie. Lee's gentleness and maturity had been proven during many visits to psychiatric patients at DePaul Hospital as a therapy dog, and she totally charmed the social worker from Jewish Family Services. Her trusting and devoted gaze could melt any heart. Lee never showed any jealousy of Katie (saving that instead for Solomon the parrot, adopted when Lee was eleven) and, in contrast, habitually slept just outside the baby's room.
Katie learned at the earliest possible age the sacredness of the canine-human bond, and Lee and Alex patiently learned to ignore when Katie would bring out their leashes. Katie would climb all over Alex and use him as a stair, but when she tried to do so to Lee, Lee would gently rise and walk away. Lee particularly enjoyed Katie's dinner time and would sit in front of Katie's high chair, her graying muzzle aimed at Katie's lap. She and Alex invariably licked clean the baby's tray table. Indeed, Lee was always a prompt and fastidiously thorough cleaner of any spilled food or beverage. No wonder that Katie first learned to kiss by sticking out her tongue and waiting for Lee to do the same.
Lee's health had been generally good throughout her life. Twice she had developed lick granulomas on her leg which resulted in Joel's repeated bandaging. Once she had an apparent mammary tumor removed, which turned out to be merely a lipoma. A second lipoma was monitored but otherwise ignored. In her advancing age, Lee suffered from an indolent ulcer of the cornea that required induced abrasion and the temporary suturing shut of her eyelid for a few weeks. She was invariably sweet-tempered through these trials, and cooperative toward her veterinarian, Dr. Grisoli.
It was during our Friday night candle-lighting that we first noticed Lee's distress. Ordinarily Lee and Alex would come running as soon as they heard Gloria pulling out the Shabbat candlesticks, kiddish cup, and challah cover. That night Lee dawdled in arriving. When she dropped her taste of challah bread and did not bend to retrieve it, we were sure that she was seriously ill. The emergency veterinarian sedated Lee before attempting to pass a stomach tube to relieve gastric pressure and abdominal bloating. She was placed in a cage fifteen feet down a hallway behind the receptionist's desk, a solid wooden door providing a visual barrier between her and tearful Gloria.
At one point Lee cried softly from either the intubation efforts or the medication. The veterinary staff refused to let Gloria wait with Lee when surgery was chosen. When the door was briefly left ajar, Gloria called out softly to Lee, "It's okay sweetheart. We're here, Lee. Daddy and Katie came too. We love you, Lee." Lee raised her tired head in response. The staff closed the door. The surgeon's report was pessimistic: Lee's abdomen was rife with neoplasmic material, most certainly malignant. She had also been hemorrhaging. Complete tumor removal was likely impossible, and little would be left of Lee's digestive system. Radiation and chemotherapy were not options. Gloria ached at the thought of losing Lee without the opportunity to say good-bye, but the veterinarian advised against allowing her to regain consciousness because of the certainty of pain and shock.
Gloria and Joel watched as the large syringe of pink barbiturate was emptied into Lee's right front leg. Her breathing and heart stopped almost immediately. Joel removed Lee's collar and Gloria removed the leg restraint. They gently extubated their daughter dog and fumbled removing her IV, spraying saline. The vet sutured the long longitudinal incision. Lee's tongue drooped to one side, slightly cyanotic. Her beautiful brown eyes had lost their fire. Her perfect teeth seemed smaller and more tartar-stained. Gloria wanted to hug her, to hold her tight, to keep her. How could she face a future that denied her the sensation of Lee's sitting upright next to her, a bundle of silky, shiny fur and the deepest, most knowing eyes? "Lee, how can I live without you?" she wailed, kissing the pads of Lee's two closer feet, already cooling and no longer redolent of the backyard grass. Gloria had long considered having Lee's coat made into a simple hide so she could continue to be able to stroke that soft fur for the rest of her life. Joel balked, and the vet sided with him.
Arrangements were made for Lee's cremation. Gloria cut a small lock of black and white fur from Lee's chest and wrapped it in surgical gauze. Now Lee's remains sit atop a hutch in Gloria's bedroom/office. She also looks down upon us from pictures scattered around the house. Beautiful Lee Love, if anything resembling consciousness awaits us in the World to Come, we know that we will find you there, waiting happily and patiently for us in a place of peace and fulfillment.
New Orleans, LA
July 27, 1995
Maxie: June 26, 1985-November 14, 1995
I remember the first time I saw you at a farm in NC, one little black and white face in a group of nine. You saw me, you walked over to me, you picked me. That was the beginning of a ten year friendship like none I have ever known or experienced.
Our relationship started in Goldsboro, NC, and ended up here in Seattle. As we made our journey from North Carolina to Minnesota to California to Arizona, and then to Washington, the only thing we needed was each other, that along with a job from time to time to keep us warm and our stomachs full. I remember a painful time in my life when I had to leave you with my parents for 2 years. I never stopped thinking about you and took comfort in knowing you were loved and cared for. I'll also never forget how you knew me the moment you saw me when I came back to get you, and from that moment on, I swore we were never to be parted again.
You gave meaning to each and everyday that you were with me, comforted me when I was sad, inspired me when I was confused, loved me when I felt I had no love. I never again thought about not having you with me forever, but I feel I never took the time we did have together for granted. I thank God that you found me and have been made richer by the experience.
I knew it was time to finally let you go when you were suffering from brain tumors. The idea of letting you go pained me more than anything I had ever felt before. I was racked with guilt and pain, and I'm sorry I couldn't hide that from you. But I also know that you understood, and that night, as you looked at me in my eyes, you also knew what was happening. I let you go Maxie because I loved you, but my memory of you is something I will cling to till the day I die. You continue to comfort me, and though I long to hold you again, I can close my eyes and feel you and know that you are near.
This is a picture of my beloved pet Amazonian water snails.
At one point I had 24 snails living in my acquarium. Each snail was roughly the size of a human hand, with a weight of up to 250 grams when alive. The shell had a color that varied from white to brown. It was very appealing to the eye.
They came from Ecuador, a gift from my ex-wife after she returned from visiting her aunt.
One by one they died. I don't know why. Maybe it was the water or lack of nutrients or old age. But I'm heart broken. They were all I had left after my wife divorced me. Last year, I was down to two snails. Then last week both of these died. Now there's nothing left of our relationship. Nothing.
San Francisco, California
Steve 1987 - 1994
I bought Steve, and his two short-lived companions, the day of my junior prom. I had recently broken up with my high-school boyfriend, and he had asked one of my soon to be ex-best friends to the prom instead. I consoled myself by going to the local Woolworth's and buying three goldfish for a dollar, and a plastic fishbowl.
As I grew, so did Steve. After a bout with tail rot, which killed his two bowl-mates, Steve moved into his very own 5 gallon aquarium, with a filter and blue rocks. When I graduated from high school the following year, I took Steve to college on a transcontinental trip from Washington D.C. to Golden, Colorado, in a small fishbowl, barrelling westward on I-70 in my disco-yellow 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. He survived the trip by being metabolically frozen with a constant barrage of ice cubes in his bowl. He was a very strong fish.
During my freshman year of college, he lived in a spacious 10 gallon tank on my desk, allowing him to grow bigger and bigger. He lived through a brush with death, when he jumped out of his tank onto my calculus binder. When I sadly picked up his limp body, and tearfully placed him back into the water, as a last and only resort, he revived and swimmingly went on with his life. I went and bought a screen for his tank to protect him from any more unnavigated adventures into "outer space." As the years went by, Steve survived 4 more transcontinental trips in a playmate cooler. His final two years were spent in Golden in a luxurious 15 gallon home in a cool basement during my years as a graduate student. He had matured into a beautiful shimmery light golden beauty, as long as my hand, with glorious flowing fins. He was a solitary soul, happy in his environment.
One day, close to my graduation, I found Steve in a bent position, floating near the top of the water, a victim of some sort of fish-stroke. His gills were still functioning, and he was staring off into space. I was broken hearted, and felt quite helpless. I had a tough decision to make. I could stand idly by and watch as he wasted away, no longer in control of his mobility, or I could try to help him. I fashioned a splint out of six straws and some waterproof tape. As gently as possible I fitted Steve to the splint, straightening out his twisted fish-body, all the while, his gills slowly pumping water and filtering precious oxygen. I weighted the splint down, so he could return to his home. I had done all I could. I went to bed that night, slightly hopeful that Steve would recover. He was, after all, a fighter.
Sadly, Steve did not win his final battle. The next day, he was in his splint at the bottom of his tank, all life functions at an end. I had lost my faithful aquatic buddy of seven years. I was crushed.
Although I cleaned and refilled the tank, and began again with a small black molly, no other fish could ever fill the small volume of space that Steve took up in what is to forever be "Steve's tank".
My beloved dog Nero died on April 1, 1995. He was 15-years-old. He was a gift from my mother when I was 18-years-old and she was ill with terminal cancer. She bought me Nero in order to cheer me up and take my mind off her illness. As it turned out, she was very attached to him too. He was supposed to be a cocker spaniel and poodle cross, a miniature that would grow no larger than 12 inches in length. However, he was, depending on how you looked at it, either the most fascinating mixture of scottie, German shepherd, dachshund and pit bull or the ugliest dog you have ever seen.
Nero had real attitude...he did precisely what he wanted and the only tricks he did were ones he learned himself, like opening the fridge door with his paw and stealing steaks off a hot grill. He was very brave, and would not back down from anyone. He hated it when I put him in sissy dog clothes...growling at me ferociously. He bit several people on the nose, but these were people that stuck their face into his without invitation. He loved me unconditionally, and when I brought home a second dog, when Nero was 10, he grudgingly accepted and grew to love Skooter.
Nero was with me the night my mom died. He was there throughout my turbulent twenties. He was there when my heart was broken and when all the love I had was transferred to this shaggy black creature. When I met the man I would later marry, Nero accepted him and welcomed him into our lives. Nero was there on my wedding day, in my official wedding portrait. When I became pregnant, Nero would lie with me, his chin resting on my ever-expanding belly. He was the first to feel the baby kick.
On February 3, the day my daughter was born, Nero started medication for his arthritic back. He became listless, yet he managed to drag himself to greet the newest member of the household. After grunting his approval, he settled into the nursery and watched over the baby. As he got worse, many people thought the kind thing to do would be to have him put to sleep. With some dogs that may be the case, but Nero always threw a fit at the Vet's office, acting as if it were his last visit there, and the thought of actually taking him to be euthanized was just too hard. The last couple of weeks were tough, but the night before he died we bathed him and set him on a blanket. He crawled into the Baby's room, and that is where we found him, having gone to his eternal rest.
I miss him so very much, as does his buddy Skooter. I could not think of a greater tribute to Nero than to give another loving creature a good home. So after a few weeks, we went to the animal shelter and picked up a new friend for Skooter. Sheppy is his name, an Australian cattle dog that was abandoned on the highway. He is not a replacement but an enhancement to our lives.
I believe there is a place in heaven for dogs (and other beloved pets) to rejoin their loved ones, and I know that is where my Nero is, probably chasing cars made of smoked ham and mailmen made of salami!
In closing, these are a few of the things that made Nero special...his morning coffee, white with 2 Sweet n Lows...The way he barked at statues of horses and cows...the way he rode shotgun in the car, EVERYWHERE, even in the dead of winter when he would curl up and sleep in the back seat while I was doing errands in the mall...his favorite toy, a chocolate scented rubber replica of a human foot...and the love and devotion he gave me for 15 great years...I only hope I did well by you, my "number one baby boy"...
Martin & Rosemarie
Ton-Ton McCoot, a marmalade, tufted eared and pawed Maine Coon Cat, showed quality, died unexpectedly of heart failure, Monday March 13, 1995, at Riverside Veterinary Clinic. Ton-Ton, a stray, was thought to be between seven and eight years old.
Nothing is known of Ton-Tonís origins. After lurking some weeks in their backyard, Ton-Ton came to live permanently with the Osgoods, North Andover, MA, in October of 1988.
Ton-Ton was an excellent sleeper and a good eater. He liked to paw at doors and seek out patches of sun. According to his person, Mary Ellen Osgood, Tonís favorite activity was being combed. He was known to have caught one mouse, and he was patient with children.
Perhaps Ton-Tonís greatest disappointment was that he failed at being an outside cat. Never an intellectual, he was unable to learn to cross streets safely, and he had a tendency to wander. Happily, in later years, he appeared reconciled to being an inside cat.
His person described Ton-Ton as "a perfect pet -- beautiful to look at, reveling in attention, who unfailingly came at the clap of my hands."
"He had sweet and funny ways," Ms Osgood said. "I have never seen a more beautiful cat. He brought a great deal of happiness to our house. He was admired by all who saw him. He was very much loved by us and we will miss him always."
Besides his person, Ton-Ton leaves his good friend Gayton Osgood. Cat companions J.P. and Flame predeceased him. The daughter of the house, Andrea Williams, lives in New Hampshire, and through her, Ton-Ton was distantly related to a dog.
Memorial contributions may be made to the MSPCA. Internment, which will be in the Osgood yard, is postponed until later in the season.
Mary Ellen & Gayton Osgood
In Memory of Samantha
May 1976 - May 1995
Samantha was an old cat. She had been a companion, a confidant, a source of joy and love for the dozen years that I had known her. My earliest memories of her are those when I was visiting the home of my wife to be. Samantha, of all the cats, sought me out, and I invariably left with pant legs damper than when I arrived. A cat of intense affection, she always took my sitting on the couch as an invitation to find room on my lap, climb my chest to butt her forehead against my face. Those times when I refused her access to the lap, cuddling against my leg was sufficient to make her happy.
Samantha reached 19 years old this month of May. It seems as if she was saving up for this big event, as she had been on a head long down hill slide ever since.
The signs had become increasingly clear. The leap to the top of my desk, a task that has been none too easy in the last year, to sit next to my keyboard as I type, became close to impossible. Her back end was hunched and the legs stiff causing her to pivot on them to turn around, the weakness causing her to sway as she stood and stagger as she walked. She tripped on things, and when another of our cats brushed her, she fell over. She had been urinating more and more. She would tell me she was hungry all the time, but finding the tasty tidbit that she would eat became a challenge, though this had not stopped me from trying. I bought every type of cat food the store offered, as well as many types of baby food. Some sufficed for a meal or two, some not at all.
Last week she took a walk. This was unusual as the number of times she had been outside in the last two years could be counted on two hands, the last time she made it all the way down the stairs to the parking lot was not an event in recent memory. But last week, she went all the way down, twice. On one of the occasions she wandered quite far afield, going down the stairs to the front of the building and wanted to cross the street. In fact, she was quite insistent on the matter, avoiding all my attempts to deter her. I ended up carrying her across and following her while she wandered.
The signs were clear, so clear even Vicki could not fail to see them. She finally agreed the time was here and made the call to the vet, Dr. Lisa as we call her, on Monday. They made an appointment for a mutually acceptable day, a full work week from the day of decision. We had decided to have Dr. Lisa come to our home to do the deed. Samantha always stressed when we took her to the vet, and we did not feel it fair to her to stress her with the trip to the office.
Of course, life is rarely as tidy as all that. Monday night and most of Tuesday, Samantha was much better, and we asked ourselves if we were making the right decision. But that Tuesday evening she began to meow incessantly, she kept making attempts to get out the door and even looked as if she might be thinking of jumping from an open second story window. She was restless and would not eat. Then Wednesday, at one point, she lost almost all use of her hind legs, and I knew the decision was the correct one. For several hours, she could not walk properly, her left back side leg acting as if it had gone dead. I spoke with Vicki at work, and we agreed Samantha might not make it until Saturday.
Fortunately, a good friend of ours, Jeanine, also works at Vicki's place of employment and was able to arrange to let Vicki have time off on Thursday to come home early. Jeanine had just had her cat, Tutus, put to sleep a short while ago and understood Vicki's need. The vet was amenable to the change of schedule. Samantha kept crying, and whenever I took a break from working, I would let her go outside with me. Outside, she would just sit and watch the world. As if taking in the sights for the last few times.
We pampered her during those last 24 hours, making special treats, letting her get on to places that she was not allowed due to 'accidents', and generally trying to make her as comfortable as possible. What had been a gray and gloomy week turned sunny that Thursday afternoon, she sat in the sun for a time warming her old bones. And she grew even weaker as the day progressed.
Once the vet arrived it was a short quick procedure and she went very quietly. We told her what a good cat she was and how pretty she looked. And then she was gone.
Vicki took her to a friend's house in whose garden other cats from her family were buried. She had gathered rose petals to make a bed for Samantha to lay upon and full flowers to lay over her.
It will be awhile before the reality finally sinks in, and I accept the fact that she is really and truly gone. She had been a companion, a confidant, a source of joy and love for the dozen years that I had known her. Even now, as I sit in my computer room, I hear her talking to me, telling me what, I do not know, but I know she listens to me when I tell her what a good cat she is... has been.
"Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with a cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Don Glover, the younger
C, Visual Basic Programmer