Farewell to a special friend

My daughter, who makes her living as a freelance photographer, often brings stellar photos for us to “ooh and ahh” over. Last Friday evening was one of those times.
This time, she brought two heart-breaking pictures of our intelligent, loving, gentle dog “Phoebe.”
One picture was of Phoebe lying among the spring tulips, her snow-white coat brilliant against the red-red tulips. Unaware of the picture-taking, Phoebe has her ears up listening to spring sounds.
Her favourite song bird was the Phoebe bird. Every time our Phoebe heard the sweet “fee-bee, fee-bee, fee-bee,” she would cock her head like she couldn’t quite understand who was calling her name.
In the other picture, Phoebe is standing in the snow, with her warm brown eyes looking right at me. Her pure white coat contrasted to the blue-white snow, which she so loved to romp in.
My daughter, who also is a flutist, brought a song which she happens to be preparing to play with a children’s choir. It is a Native American blessing.
“Farewell, my friend. We will speak your name to the wind. . . . We will dance for you on the living path. . . . We will call the mighty thunder above to keep the storms from you. . . .
“We will chant your name in the night. . . . Farewell, my friend. In our memories, we will hold you ’til we meet again.”
Phoebe was a very special dog. Even her caring veterinarian, Dr. Tonn, said after she was gone, “The first time I met Phoebe, I knew she was a special dog.”
He always called her “Phoebe girl.”
She was happiest with lots of people around and especially loved parties. But some people were more important to her than others.
One of those special people was her good friend Walt. Every time Walt was expected, I would tell Phoebe, “Walt is coming!” And she would wait by the front door expectantly until he arrived.
Then, curling her whole body in greeting, she would lead him to the couch and take her place under the coffee table.
What made Walt so special is that at the time of my stroke six years ago, he walked Phoebe every day for four weeks while I was in rehab. Phoebe never forgot that Walt was there when she needed a friend.
Her other special friend was her Uncle Jim. My brother often stops in for a quick cup of coffee after work. Phoebe always waited eagerly when he was expected because Uncle Jim gave her ginger snaps—her favourite treat.
When Phoebe was first offered to me as a pet, I was pretty sure I didn’t want a “used” dog. I’d been researching dogs for years and wanted a purebred.
But after Phoebe, I understand why people say mixed breed dogs make the best friends. So, my daughter already is visiting the local animal shelters.
Phoebe’s ceramic food and water dishes are in our kitchen cupboard and her basket of toys put away. But we hope they won’t be there long. Because we know how important it is for both physical and emotional health to have a dog friend—especially this side of 60.
So as we say “farewell” to our sweet Phoebe, we are waiting hopefully for another wonderful dog to join our family.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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