Monday, August 8, 2011

R.I.P. 2

So many amazing dogs have passed away recently.

Any viewer of this blog can see the evidence of all the time we've spent with "the Golden Girls", a group of four dogs. Sadly, in the past few weeks they've gone down to 2 dogs. Both Princess and Slim have died after fairly quick declines in their health.

Slim (or Bimmy) (or Bimmy-Slimmy-Slim-Slim) was rescued shortly after I started taking care of the "girls" a few years back- maybe 4 or 5 years ago? The girls and their dad found her tied to a tree at Bartram's Garden, emaciated and scared. Watching her progress over the next few months was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. At first she didn't understand what people were for, besides feeding, and of course she could never eat as much as she wanted, since her system was not used to food. Seeing her figure out how to be a pet by watching and getting to know the other 3 dogs was inspiring. Within a few weeks she grew to like human affection and learned how to play with the other dogs, and sometimes with toys. Eventually she gained so much weight that her name seemed like a joke, and she had to be put on a diet. This photo is from her more rotund days.Slimmy had one of the funniest barks I've ever heard, too. It's hard to describe the sound, but when she was excited or upset about being left, she'd run in circles with her head up in the air and her giant mouth constantly moving, so she looked like a shark! Thus her sometimes nickname of Shark-dog. I wish I had video of that!
Princess was the oldest of the bunch, around 12 by most estimates. She'd been pretty slow for a while now, but even when her vet said she had the worst case of arthritis they'd ever seen, she still seemed like a happy dog. She would still "run" towards the tennis ball, though she wouldn't be able to catch it. But she seemed to enjoy just going after it. I took her to her aquatic therapy at Whole Animal Gym in South Philly a few times in her last months, which really seemed to help her mobility. Out of respect, I did not take a picture of her "swimming outfit:" an orange life jacket and a diaper with cartoon monkeys on it. But it was really funny.

I'll just post this one picture of her, since I know there are already a ton of her (and Slim) on this blog!

Maggie was a sweet old German Shepherd that I met years ago in Clark Park. My old friend Mingus (my first client!) was quite fond of her. Rumor has it she was the queen of fetch in her youth, but when I knew her well, she was just a sweet, slow, kind dog with impressively large ears! I'm glad a friend hired me to draw her portrait this winter:

Here she is again. I know a lot of people who miss her a lot.

I think that's everyone. So many of my favorite dogs. I'm so so lucky to have known all these brilliant creatures. But my heart hurts right now.

Maggie, Princess, Slim, Bee Bee, and Alice: I love you forever. I meant it every time I said it.


Rest In Peace, friends.

Sadly, we have lost so many amazing dogs in the past few months. My heart breaks a little each time, and this past week I thought maybe I shouldn't even get to know dogs anymore- it hurts so bad when they die.

But I know I can't stop, so I need to honor each of these amazing dogs as best I can.

Bee Bee was a Pomeranian. When I first met him, I felt like he hated me. He bit me several times, but fortunately he was already so old that his bark really was worse than his bite! He had severe back problems, so his biting was probably an attempt to protect himself from pain. After maybe ten visits, he finally got used to me and allowed me to put his leash on without protective gloves! After a couple years, he warmed up to me to the point that he would let me pet him any time, and often he'd try to cuddle up to me when I sat on the floor. I grew to love him very much, though he was the slowest dog to walk!

What a sweetie:

Alice also passed away this summer. I'm so glad I had a chance to spend time with her a few weeks before she died. She and her little beagle sister Deedee were the closest friends I've ever seen. They would wrestle in bed for hours! Alice was very smart and loyal, and almost never needed a leash.

I'll miss her tons. So will my Maxxie, with whom she and Deedee spent many days running in the woods. Check out a close-up of Alice's amazing underbite!
One more of Alice, contemplating the wonders of nature:
R.I.P. 2 in my next post...


Sonrisa was kind enough to take some photos of me at Chester Ave. Dog Park with Radar and Jack last week. We needed some hi-res images of me looking like a professional dog walker for a story about me in my college's alumni magazine. (I'll be sure to link to it here when it's out!) ETA: no link, can't find it online. It was a short story anyway.

There's a few really good ones, two of which you can currently see over on, and while this one is goofy and a little blurry, I love it. Look at Radar's sweet face!