Foxie, the first dog I got to call my own, and my very best friend, passed away this morning. She waited until I woke up so I could say goodbye.
She used to live outside my old building and would only come around in the evening, when the garbage truck came, to beg for food. I didn’t realise until after I adopted her that she was very succesful, and had about a dozen families feeding her a smorgasbord of treats to choose from, which is why she was never too fussed about the tinned food I used to give her. She would sit and watch the cats eat it instead.
One Sunday afternoon in early 2001, after she hadn’t been seen for a few days, she came running out of the bushes after hearing my scooter. I had never seen her during the day before. As she crossed the street I could see a large, open wound on her flank. Despite having never let me touch her before, she allowed me to tie a leash around her neck, pick her up, and take her on my scooter to the nearest vet. She really knew I was helping her. She sat patiently with me outside the surgery, and I remember looking down at her, sitting by my feet, and wondering what it would be like to have such a smart and well-behaved dog for a pet.
As the vet shaved away her matted fur, the extent and cause of her injury became obvious. A large area of flesh, from her shoulders to her hips and down the flanks, had been burned away. She’d had acid thrown over her. A linear wound cutting into the flesh around her waist had been caused by a rope or something similar that had been tied around her. Despite the suffering she had obviously endured, she allowed myself and the vet to do everything necessary to help her. She never budged when the vet cut away the dying skin and never once cried out.
After doing a few tests, the vet informed me that she also had a very advanced heartworm infection which could soon kill her. But she would need to recover from the acid burns before he could treat the heartworm, as the treatment for heartworm is very dangerous and taxing on the system. That’s when I decided to adopt her.
Although all the odds were against it, Foxie showed incredible spirit through three months of painful treatment for both conditions, and made an outstanding recovery. At one point she had to be put on a drip after a life-threatening infection set in. But she soldiered on, and as the days progressed, her mood improved, and she began to show her amazing character. Although a stray for the best part of a decade, she instinctively knew what I would want her to do, and all it took was one command and a little bit of body language for her to understand what was required of her and she would do it. Sometimes, if I was eating something she wanted and her begging hadn’t paid off, she would go and get one of her toys or chews and place it on my lap, then stare at my plate. How could I not reward such intelligence? She never put a paw wrong in the house. She really was the best dog that anyone could wish for.
The heartworm had caused her heart to swell, and the cardio specialist told me in October 2002, after seeing an ultrasound of her heart and performing a thorough asessment of her condition, that she only had a few months to live - six at the most, though he really didn’t think she would last that long. I was given some instruction as to how to revive her should she have a heart attack, and Foxie was put on some medicine that would make her heart beat more efficiently and also to keep fluid away from her lungs. Every six months or so, I would take Foxie back for a check-up, and each time the vet would be totally shocked to see Foxie trotting around his surgery, standing up to sniff the air. Each time he would tell me how she had definitely broken any records for a dog surviving with a heart as badly diseased as hers. Basically, only one half was working, and the valve in between was completely useless - you could see it on the screen flapping open instead of rhythmically opening and closing. The one side of her heart that was working had to do all the work of both.
But she kept on going, even during renal failure earlier this year. The vet said she would die soon a painful death and should be put to sleep, but she never showed any of the warning signs, and fully recovered from that. She was one tough, persistent dog!
Foxie had been doing really well recently, and even came for a fairly long walk with my other two dogs just a few days ago. I had to carry her half the way and give her many rest stops, but she loved it, as she always does, and stumbled along beside us while we crawled along at a snail’s pace. She thoroughly loved being outside, and would always insist on joining us for a walk, which meant I had to do a lot of carrying!
On Sunday evening, she was refusing to eat. She was already painfully thin, so this was a concern. She still came for very short walks, but her steps were more labored and her eyes beginning to dull. By yesterday evening she was having trouble breathing, and she had began to wheeze. She was too weak to cough and clear her throat. I knew what was going to happen. So last night I brushed her fur and slept with her on the sofa for a little while. But she wanted to be outside. She loves to lie on the tiles and listen to the insects chirping beyond our yard. So I opened the door for her and let her go. I woke up very early this morning, and she was obviously close to leaving me. I cuddled her for a while then went away. When I returned a few minutes later she wasn’t breathing, but as I lay down next to her she let out one last sigh. Despite her discomfort, she had waited to say goodbye to me.
I miss her already. She really was the most beautiful dog, despite her scars and suffering, and was the best dog anyone could wish for. She always overcame the problems that should have killed her, and never showed the pain she was going through. It was Foxie who made me realise that animals do deserve a second chance, regardless of how much of a chance that might be. If it wasn’t for Foxie’s bravery and resilience, Lazarus would not have been given the second chance that he so deserved and is making the very best of today.
So, apologies for babbling on and using up all this space, but she was my best friend and I loved her to bits, and she deserves an obituary. She’ll be buried on Saturday on the hill where I found her and which she loved so much. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love this little lady - she’s the main reason I’m still here - but please don’t call me today, as I really won’t be able to talk about her. I knew this was going to happen, but it’s still incredibly sad for me.
Maybe we could have a pet obituary thread in the Pets forum?
Foxie, Rest in Peace, Baby - Thanks for making it for so long
Lots of love and kisses,
Daddy, Cookie, Chocolate, and Alicia xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
July 26, 2005