Sunday, October 19, 2008


Photo courtesy of fantastic BF staff photographer Terrah Johnson.

So that was the reason for my hiatus - I took some time off from blogging this week because Smokey needed a little more help and a little more company. After his passing yesterday, today has been surprisingly all right. He was in so much pain on his last day that his death was merciful. Although I will miss him terribly, I am comforted that he is now free from the anguish of his final few days.

Smokey was a difficult dog, and he had the capacity to be dangerous - we suspect abuse at the hands of a person is what gave him his behavioral issues related to handling. There were many parts of his body that he didn't want touched or handled and he wasn't shy about using his teeth, he was afraid of being leashed or having his collar touched (a fear which greatly improved in his time here at Best Friends and disappeared near the end of his life, when he frequently allowed me guide him by the collar), and he refused to go on walks or leave his comfort zone when he didn't want to. Indeed, I rapidly gave up on using a leash on him at all on our trips outside - he couldn't move very fast or very far anymore, so it was never a concern.

He also had a tremendous capacity for love, affection and companionship. When people would enter his pen back in NY, the first thing he would do is march up to them and lean his body into them, looking up into their eyes until they touched him. If a person would sit down on his bed he would scramble up into their lap and loll onto his back, asking for his chest to be scratched. He didn't want anyone to leave his pen and he would scramble to block the door with his body and lean up against you, asking you to stay just a little bit longer. Although he was frightened to be touched in certain ways and in certain places, he had a tremendous hunger for human affection. He had so many fans and so many people rooting for him, both the people at Pets Alive in NY and the staff and volunteers here at Best Friends. I cannot tell you how many people have asked me about him this past week, seeing how he was fairing.

I got to see Smokey relax and settle into a home, which is something I might not have believed possible a few years ago. He was comfortable here, and although he and my other two dogs didn't have the warmest relationship, there were no fights between them. I wish a home could have come for him earlier, but I know he wasn't ready yet. He was tremendously affectionate while he was here but never needy, quiet and never destructive. I would come home to check on him during my lunch break and find him napping quietly on a dog bed, waiting for me to come home.

He had many visitors in his last few days - he was beloved by his former caregivers and other staff. I am grateful for them all and I know that he was, too. I am also grateful for the very compassionate and caring medical staff here at BF that did everything in their power to make his last days as comfortable as possible.

There will be a memorial for Smokey on Thursday at Angel's Rest, the incredibly beautiful animal cemetery here at Best Friends.

Smokey was worth saving. Dogs like him are worth saving. It's an honor to participate in that work.


Blogger Susie said...

I am so sorry for your loss:-(

3:49 PM  

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