My dear friend, Poe, died today.
Poe has lived with me for eight years. Today we found out – through pure accident – that her bones were full of cancer. Bone cancer in pets is a horrifically painful, aggressive type of cancer.
When I was in sixth grade I had a really grouchy English Literature teacher. For whatever reason she seemed to like me. While we studied Edgar Allan Poe she noticed I seemed really interested in his short stories. One day she handed me one of her personal copies of his most famous short stories and told me to keep it. I still have this book on my bookshelf today.
Poe’s short stories were my first experience with literature; they immensely changed my life. I began reading everything I could get my hands on. I was the kid in science class who was reprimanded for reading a novel instead of listening to the teacher go on and on about the fragility of flint. Becoming a book nerd helped me find myself. It helped me escape scary and awful days; it gave me an identity in which I could feel true pride.
The next year – in seventh grade – my family brought home a puppy. When I was in college this puppy (now no longer a puppy!) came to live with me. In 2011 she passed away. Her name was Angel and she was a sassy fluff ball unlike any other. We still had Ripley, a Greyhound my husband had adopted before we moved in together, but I still felt like I was missing a limb. I’ve always had pets for as long as I can remember and I needed to bring another fur-baby into my home.
I decided right away that I wanted to adopt a black dog. Black dogs are often difficult to find homes for – due to stigma saying they are aggressive (not true) and because they are less photogenic than say a smiling yellow lab. I also knew that the first dog I was ever able to name myself would be named Poe in honor of my favorite author whose works made me feel less like a weirdo during my awkward middle school years when our puppy came to live with us.
We contacted a Greyhound Rescue about a girl named Katie. Katie wasn’t socialized yet and was too nervous to meet us. The shelter person told me they had another black Greyhound named the Connie (racing name: The Irish Con) who she just knew we would fall in love with. She was right.
Ms Poe walked right up to me, one ear upright, the other floppy. She let us take her for a stroll around the rescue’s lawn and was very interested in the goats in the yard next door. We immediately completed an application and she came to live with us the following Saturday.
Throughout these eight years, Poe helped me remember who I am during some of my most difficult days. Always ready to lean in for a Greyhound hug, Poe’s kind soul was always there. (If you aren’t familiar with a Greyhound hug, you need to stop whatever you are doing right now and find a Greyhound and hug them.)
We didn’t know Poe had cancer. Yesterday she came to work with me for a teeth cleaning. She acted strange when we came home, hyper and distraught. Her legs kept giving out underneath her. At one point she screamed in pain and all four legs were splayed out beneath her. We thought she’d broken her leg in her anesthesia fog. I brought her back to work today and x-rays revealed she did in fact break her shoulder.
The x-rays also also showed a tumor. A bone tumor.
This girl, the most wonderful dog I ever have known, has been in pain for heaven only knows how long. She didn’t complain. She still hopped up into the car when asked to. She didn’t limp. She didn’t whimper. I know in my heart that she didn’t want us to worry about her. She dealt with her pain until she couldn’t anymore because she wanted nothing more than to give us all the love her giant heart could give.
Poe and my little girl were BFFs. Baby Girl is so sad her BFF won’t see her turn six, but she’s grateful to have had such a special girl welcome her home from the hospital when she was born. (And, of course, to have accidentally shared so many breakfasts with Poe who “sneakily” snagged uneaten toast from Baby Girl’s plates.)
Poe’s favorite thing to do was to dig a hole in the backyard and lay in it in the shade on extremely hot days. Today while we said goodbye to her we found a dusty spot in the shade on grassy yard of the animal hospital. We hugged her and kissed her, and helped her soul leave her painful body to find peace.
As her heart slowed down and stoped beating, a bird suddenly chirped a happy bird call. We all agreed that the bird was there showing Poe’s soul to the rainbow bridge or heaven or wherever it is souls go when they leave a body.
I’ve been home an hour or so since we said goodbye to my beloved friend. I’ve already heard her sighing her big relaxed Greyhound sigh. I also heard her nails clicking outside the door asking to be let in to snuggle with me while I write.
Who even knows what’s happen when we die? No one. I do know my best friend, dear Poe, will always be nearby. She’s hoping for some steak fat when Mike grills and giving me her adorable one ear up, one ear down face when she sees a squirrel running by outside. She’ll be snuggling up on the couch with Baby Girl when Baby Girl needs the kind of snuggle only a Greyhound can give.
I don’t know how many of my colleagues follow me on this weird book blog or my tarot heavy instagram, but I want to be sure to say THANK YOU to everyone who was there today.
From opening doors while I carried Sweet Poe inside the hospital, to closing my car’s hatchback while I carried her inside when I still thought she’d broken her leg, to making sure Poe’s eyes were hydrated since she was in so much pain that she wasn’t blinking, to giving Poe a pillow so her tiny head and giant nose were comfortable while we waited for the radiology report, to expediting the radiology report, to bringing me sparkling water, to stopping whatever else you were working on to give my dear friend xrays and pain meds, to coming in on your day off when you learned of the horror that existed in my dear girl’s bones.
I’m not very good at being vulnerable. But today I knew that my pain was shared. I was surrounded by people who care about me and my family, and especially my most amazing friend Poe the Greyhound.