Beloved....my beloved Fella
My favorite photo of Fella and I.... I'm looking through them this morning. I forgot some of these...they are beautiful...he was beautiful. Through a wall of tears I look through these. Somehow it is sad and yet soothing...three years ago our Greyhound, Monroe, died two days after Thanksgiving. (Thanksgiving was earlier in the month that year) She died two days after Thanksgiving and we still miss her.
Fella, my beloved Fella, died on Saturday morning in my arms at our home. Two days after Thanksgiving.....two days after Thanksgiving. Sometimes I like to write....I'm someone who loves pen pals and snail mail. Maybe you'll read this maybe you'll scroll on by. If you read it, thank you for listening. I am sore. I didn't sleep. I ache. My nose is raw, my heart is shattered and his spot in front of me is empty. To some folks....it's just a dog. But to those of us with them in our lives, woven into the fabric of our days and nights, bonded tightly to our hearts and souls...........they are not just dogs. They are a piece of us, a piece of our hearts and purpose.
I looked for him this morning, I listened for him last night. I shouldn't have eaten food, I should have stuck with tea, I was miserable all night. My stomach turns and I feel sick most of the time.
If you've never lost an animal, this is what it feels like. It feels like nausea, like someone kicked you in the chest and the wind has been sucked from your lungs. Like the life has been taken from your chest. The light is gone from your eyes. I putter around the house...standing there. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. My beloved Fella does not come around the corner. I do no see him when I go to check on him. And I break all over again. Yes.... I am broken.
Fella was my birthday gift from my ex husband. I promised a blow job a week for a year if I could have this dog. (a promise I never made good on and I am damn glad of that) I got my dog, flown down from a rescue in Oregon.
Fella was in Mexico, with a pack of homeless dogs. He had a brother who had been run over in a parking lot of an orange grove picking area. One of the trucks ran over his brothers back leg, it stuck to the pavement and his brother could not move.
The rescue worked with a gal in Mexico to save and transport these dogs, the rescue is in Oregon. Fella stood guard by his brother, the woman from the rescue drove to work each day, saw this dog lying down and a dog sitting next to that dog. Same place, each day. They never moved. On the third day she pulled into the lot, saw Fella standing guard by his injured brother and managed to get them both into her car.
Fella's brother had the leg amputated, that dog was adopted right away. Fella was not...........he had a fierce love for his brother and stood sentry guard day and night until they were rescued by that amazing woman.
I had lost my first Dingo a year before seeing Fella's photo on the rescue site. He looked a lot like my former dog, but when I saw his photo I knew knew knew in my heart we were meant to be together.
He was flown down from Oregon in June for my birthday, it was raining ash in Phoenix that year from a fire or...I can't remember but my mom and Marty were with me to go pick him up. The first time I saw him I didn't like the way he looked, he was different than my old dog and that wasn't what I hoped for. But he WASN'T my old dog, he was Fella. His name was Teri.....but his real name Fella came out as we got to know each other.
His goat milk is on the counter.......he didn't like to drink water. So I gave him goat milk each morning and we used to laugh that I had to water my Dingo. Today his milk is there....i poured the usual amount and realized there is one bowl less to fill. It sits there as I type.
My marriage ended and I was broken, Fella changed when all of that happened. It was a dark time, a dismal journey...and Fella changed. Fella was by my side constantly. Always. Fierce. Standing guard, never aggressive but always watchful. He was different after that divorce, I suppose so was I.
Our relationship changed. We were two peas in a pod like never before. When we touched our forheads together it was magnetic, I could feel a physical pull so strong I didn't want to pull away. You may think I'm nuts, but it's true.
We muddled through divorce and healing, moves and stress and uncertainty. My dog pack stood by me, and me by them. FIERCE is how I describe my love for my dogs, but for Fella the most. FIERCE was our love for each other, our loyalty and devotion to each other.
We had 14 years together.......the rescue said he was 2. They always say 2....that would have made him 16. Dr Marsh said he was more like 5-7....that would have made him 19-22. I went with three and say he was 17 ...I'll never know his birthday or his young life. I'll never know what he looked like as a puppy. His teeth were bad, missing layers of enamel. The vet said since all yes every tooth was malformed he didn't get enough nutrition in the womb. He was simply born that way and malnourished as a pup, his teeth couldn't form properly.
He always had stinky breath because of that....and I never cared. He was beautiful. He had a tear on his left ear, it was there when he came to me. I imagine he was defending his brother and was injured....I will never know.
14 beautiful years, I spent one night away from him. I will never spend another night away from my pack. I regret that night, it was one more I could have had with them. I am utterly devoted to my pack. Yes they tie me down. Yes they keep me from travelling. Yes they keep me home. Yes it's stressful a lot of work and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I am crushed without my beloved....................his leash hangs on the wall never to be put on again. He is the one who needed help home a few weeks ago when the good samaritan helped us. I would have carried him to the ends of the earth............... there is a pile of shoes by the front door. Never to be worn.... his food bowl on the counter with goat milk he won't drink today. I made too much food for the rest last night.... there are less bowls to fill. There is no peeking around the corner to see if he's okay. There is.....nothing.
I was awake all night listening for him, because that's what I do. He slept downstairs in this house most of the time and it killed me because we were apart. But he was always on guard. If I forced him to sleep upstairs he was at the doorway or top of the stairs. I hope he rested some....I felt he never rested. He is resting now. I hope he enjoyed his life with me..............I hope it was not constant work and constant sentry duty.
He was aloof, if you were at our shows you probably rarely met him because he didn't care for the choas. We retired the shows after someone's child punched him (that child was removed and that family told never to set foot on our property again). If you'd like to see the beast in me, fuck with my dogs. You will regret it.
Fella was quiet and aloof. Beautiful and soulful. Fella was my everything. My bff when I needed him, he filled the shoes of husband when that role was taken away. He stayed by my side through lonlieness and the joy of meeting my forever husband, Brent. Fella went through countless moves, unknown times and uncertainty and yet he was SOLID for me, constantly my rock to lean on. Oh my God I am broken..........what does it feel like to lose a dog? It hurts. Yes I physically hurt. My stomach lurches and I feel like I'm going to be sick constantly. My eyes are dry and swollen and sore and when you think they are empty, they are not. There are more tears. My nostrils are raw utterly raw. I'm eating advil to keep the headache at bay. I don't want food. I drink some tea and water but it upsets my stomach, but it's the only thing that feels okay. My hair is sticking straight up and I don't give a fuck. I don't care about sunshine or snow or Christmas or walking or food or anything. I don't care. I wish I hadn't woken up today. That is how this feels.
Fella was my first dog to die naturally. He did not pass on or pass away or ................he died. He fucking died. In my arms he died. My parents came to visit for Thanksgiving and we walked.........his gift was a really long walk with them. And as we were doing it I knew what he was doing, I knew we were close. I told my mom I thought Fella just gave us this gift of a long walk........the next day they came and we walked but it was our normal small slow walk. And I knew.
The next day, Thanksgiving, he didn't want to eat and when it was walk time he came in the room and layed down. He made it down the front yard and that was all, we had to come back. Brent brought him in and for the first time I walked four dogs alone. I cried the entire walk....Fella was waiting in the front room when I came home.
Friday he ate some breakfast, to humor me. Friday night he didn't eat more than a bite and I knew. When I went to bed Friday night Fella wanted to be downstairs. I kissed him so many times and told him I wasn't sure if I'd see him in the morning. I knew.
Early in the morning I heard him breathing, but that's not possible because I was up and he was down. I jarred awake, was I really awake?!? I heard his breathing in the room with me, I was awake but hearing him and shot down the stairs. He was in the bathroom, confused but I heard the click of his nails and that got me downstairs. I told him to told on, let me get jammies on I'd be right back. I heard a thud while getting dressed upstairs. I dashed down and he had collapsed on the bottom stair trying to get up to me.
His legs folded like a deer..........I scooped him up and put him on his ottoman. Ran upstairs to get Brent, it was time. I called my dearest friend, Kim, who loves my dogs as her own. She remembers the day Fella came to the office for the first time.........I told Kim if she wanted to say goodbye it was now. It was dark, before dawn and Kim came to be with us.
Three of us vigiled around him as his body slowly shut down all systems. He was a verbal dog, and his death was a verbal death. That was scary for my husband to see and hear, there were scary moments. Thank God I have hospice training and volunteered for years with them, I knew the methodical side of death and what would happen. Brent thought Fella might be in pain, there was moaning and some sorts of wailing, but I knew he was talking and saying all the things he needed to say. And it was okay, he wasn't in distress or pain. This was his death and how he was doing it.
I've never had a dog pass at home..........this was new and scary and we just held hands and held him and none of us left his side. We talked to him and told him all the things we needed to say. He knew I was sad and didn't want him to go, but I lied to him and said it was okay to go. He knows I was lying, I know he knew. And his death took hours....he held on as his worn out body shut down, he still wanted to be here with his mama. He knew my heart was breaking and he knew his job was to mend that break. But he couldn't stop the inevitable.
His breathing was heavy (normal) and then he peed (normal) and my hugest gratitude to Kim...................she was holding him near that area and just grabbed kleenex after kleenex, never flinched, and dried him off, never letting go of holding him while tending to him. Once that happened I knew we'd be close but he hung on another hour or so.
His breathing changed, his mouth opened and closed. There was no gasping or fear, it simply changed. It slowed, I had gone into the kitchen to start food for the other dogs and that's when he changed. Kim and Brent called me back, the two seconds I was away he started to go. His mouth opened and closed. Breath in. Breath out. No more moaning. I hear him now as I type............... his eyes changed, one eye became glassy and dry. His other eye was watching me. I looked at him, I kept moistening his lips to keep him comfortable.... and his other eye changed. He was gone. I layed my head on his chest, there was no heartbeat. And with that..........Fella left my life. And the light left my eyes. The spark left my soul. A shell remains. Going through the motions. I am but a shell.
We didn't know what to do...........this has never happened to anyone I know. Our vet lives behind us and I have her number so I texted her asking................what do we do when my beloved dog is here, dead in my arms at home? On a holiday weekend, on a Saturday morning early? To my utter blessing she answered back...she was home and would meet me at the clinic in an hour. A few minutes later she offered to come over and come get him so we didn't have to drive. I have no words................I have no words for this miracle. This woman who is selfless and so giving to come to my house, someone she barely knows, she and her team care for our dogs but only since we lived here, about a year.
We waited, and that was good....it was a bit before she arrived. Bailey and Fella shared that ottoman every single night, whoever was up there first growled at the other one coming up and then they snuggled until bedtime, always on my right. Back home Fella was on my right on the couch every single night. Here was have recliners and he was on that ottoman every night without fail.
As we waited for Dr Jenny to come........Fella was gone, Bailey got up on the ottoman and put her head on Fella's body. There she stayed, growled at Dr Jenny when she came in. Dr Jenny sat on the floor with us, in our home in our jammies, shattered and snotty, crying and swollen. She talked with us and talked about Fella, talked about why she became a vet. I cannot believe she came over... I cannot. She petted him ... Bailey turned and spooned his body. Guarding her friend as he had done for so long for me. Then we were ready...Fella was stiff. Brent lovingly carried the body of his beloved Fella Cakes aka Fella Fetcha out to Dr Jenny's car. She had backed up to our driveway and put the hatch up, knowing. She came in her own personal car, to our home, to transport a dog who was not her own..............on a Saturday on a holiday weekend. Fella wasn't a small dog, Kim my beautiful Kim offered to go with Dr Jenny to help get Fella's body into the clinic. Dr Jenny told us her husband was going with her to help...............these two angels down from heaven helping us unknown people. Giving of their time, giving of their hearts. Giving of their love.
Dr Jenny said this is why she does what she does, so she can help people in this situation, so she can ease the transition and pain and help. I have no words for the utter kindness given by this woman to my family. She asked if she could put his paw print in clay for me........ and told me that Monday (tomorrow) his body will go to the pet crematorium. I will get his ashes..... and the quilt he was transported in will come back to me. He was on that quilt nightly and died on it, his body was lovingly wrapped in it. My mother made that quilt, it's covered in his fur right now and she will bring it back to me. I will have it always...................
And this is what death of a loved one at home looks like. And this is what grief looks like. And this.........................THIS is what fierce love looks like. And as my dear friend Patti
says....the harder you're grieving the more you loved them.
I am broken. I am shattered. I wish I didn't wake up today. My beloved Fella is gone. Close curtain.