To lose a forever dog, a family member, is one of life’s biggest heartaches. One that is stale, world-stopping and devastating. Maybe I have just been lucky to have never experienced a “loss” of any sort. But this one has not been easy for me. I have been going through the stages of grief like a never-ending circle. Thus, this post is more for my healing and therapy than for anyone’s interest. But, I also hope that this resonates with all pet lovers and to those who have lost a forever pet.
I’ve had to think back to the very beginning of our time together. Here’s the story:
She decided to follow my brother home from middle school one day. And we never looked back. She was not a pup when we took her in. She must have been at least a year old– I was 9 or 10. Making her at least 17 years old this year.
If you know me, you know Fiona.
She was the strongest little lady. She managed to get taken from our yard twice, returning both times. The first time, we were living in my old house. She disappeared for days, maybe even a whole week. One night, we got a call from our neighbor letting us know that Fiona had come home all on her own. The second time, just last year, she was taken by someone in a car. She made it back home all on her own before I could even put up the Lost Dog signs. Aside from being terrible irresponsible, isn’t that crazy? Aside from that, she developed a tumor on her foot about four years ago. With fair warning from the vet, she let us know that because of her old age, she probably would not make it out of surgery. We tried anyway, and received a happy, much healthier, toe-missing Fiona in return. She lived.
Holidays were fun with Peonies. My mom dressed her up as a bumble bee more years than I can even keep count of. This last year, as i was a cactus, my mom tied a bow around her head and claimed she was “Frida” that year. During Thanksgiving, she sat on my right side. Always. Some years, she even had a plate on the table. I never had shame in feeding her with my fork. Christmas was fun because she loved to rip apart the wrapping paper left on the floor from opening gifts.
Fiona had a sassy personality. If she could talk, she would be one of few words. Her facial expressions and lack of interest for things happening around her spoke to the core of her personality. She was strong. So much so, that she never expressed the amount of pain and discomfort she was experiencing that led to her last days. Suddenly, she decided she couldn’t bear anymore and it started to show. She had liver failure along with other things that come with old age. And although she was holding on, and looked like she had more fight, we made the decision to end her pain and send her off to the heavens.
You see, Fiona was much more than just a pet to me. She was the wagging tail, squinty face, ears pushed back girl that I came home to through elementary, middle school, high school and college. My move to Tennessee was hard because of my pups. I knew I would miss them more than anything. The morning that I was leaving Fresno and flying out to Nashville, I was rushing into the car and ran back to hug Fiona and Peas one last time.
My last memory of her was just a few days before I left to Tennessee. I picked her up and placed her on my chest. She fell asleep. Luckily, my mom captured a picture of that moment. I can always look back at it to remember her.
The beautiful thing about this whole loss, has been the amount of people that have reached out to acknowledge and remember her. I feel so privileged to have been chosen to love her for the last 15 years.
Peonies, I will miss you and love you forever. I hope that you’ve found a nice patch of sun to lay in while you wait for us to catch up to you.