Today we ended Faith’s life. She was, according to the records, 19 years old.
She had cancer and while still able to go up and down the stairs, take short walks, and eat two square meals a day (her favorite 8 minutes of the day), the tumors were at a point of not just being an annoyance. They caused her pain, and it was clear that as they were now spreading quickly, there was more of that in her future. And so we made an appointment and drove her to the Vet in the Palisades. I was able to hold it together through the signing of release forms, and the initial wait in the entry, but when it was time to take her back, Gary and she went together for the last walk down the hall.
They tried to get her lay down on the floor, but she wanted to sit up, so Gary wrapped his arms around her and they administered the drug. He said she peacefully began to breathe more slowly, until she was no longer with him. He said she looked angelic. The doctor left him alone with her and he said he lost it, beginning to cry, his tears spilling down onto the front of his blue t-shirt like drops of heavy rain. When he came out of the building, I was waiting in the car, and while we knew we’d done the right thing, the strong thing, the best thing for her – it was so incredibly hard.
Faith was rescued from the Westside Animal Shelter by Chuck Sloan with Max and Calvin in the fall of 1992. She had been dropped off there with 8 puppies. It was because she was such a sweet and gentle dog, somewhat fearful of the unknown, and always preferring people to other animals, that the staff allowed her to be in the back, not in a cage and not on display. It was only when Sloan asked if there were anything unseen, any "specials" as it were, that the woman at the desk decided to bring her out. I could say that it was love at first sight. That she fell into their arms with joy and reckless abandon, but that was saved for when she met me. And while she didn’t actually come to stay at my house until 1995, she was the canine love of my life. Everyone believes that their dog is smart, knowing, gentle, devoted, and filled with love.
And this is true. Having had many dogs in my past, I can say that Faith had a soul and dare I say, a wit, that was unmatched by others. One of her last acts, even while ill, was the theft of a bundt cake at the birthday party for my mother and Calvin and me. She waited until she was let out after eleven at night, she circled the dessert table, and then, hoping people were drunk, she made a sneak attack. With the fully formed poppy seed bundt cake made by Carla Danes in her mouth, she then attempted a daring escape to the corner of the yard.
When the cake was taken from her, in her sorry state with her wobbly legs and shaking muzzle, she quickly planned a second assault. Once again, she was able to pull the cake off the table by simply standing in the deep shadows and
tugging on the lacey paper underneath with just her delicate upper lip. She brought it down, and having secured the sugar prisoner, she started more quickly this time, for cover. She was caught on her second attempt nearly in full gallop with the bundt cake like a ring around her muzzle. And that was just three weeks ago.
Faith made me laugh and today she has made me cry, but for sixteen years, she made me simply happy. And for that, Gary and I are incredibly grateful.