To Paris, With Love

While our hearts ache beyond imagination, I must first say thank you. You were a sparkling diamond and we were blessed to have you in our lives. I thought I had so much to teach you when you joined and it is you that has taught me a lifetime of lessons in an all too short 6 years together. I don’t think there will ever be a day that losing you like this will be ok. But for you I rejoice. Your radiance could spark a universe and I just hope with all of my heart that you are waiting for us in the next one.

PARIS “I’m Spicy” Glenn
12/04/02 – 6/08/10

aka “P-Dawg, Princess Pei Pei, Paris Francis, P, P-monkey, Sweet-P”

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Your golden eyes stared out at me from the Pefinder ad and I fell in love on the spot. I would soon make the trip to meet you in Orlando where I would first glimpse your dynamic presence. Your beauty was more astonishing face to face – a gorgeous snow white greyhound with a single blue eyebrow and the most adorable light blue speckled ears. Your skin glowed a soft pink and your legs and tummy were dusted with the little blue spots so faintly that you had to be close to realize that they were there. As if all that glamor wasn’t enough, your coat had a very distinguished feature – that wonderful ridge along the back of your neck, perfectly formed like a rhodesian’s . The beautiful twist of nature that created you and your brother with his handsome matching white and blue parti “Armani” coat was breathtaking. How dare they ask if I minded about your scars – they were unfortunate, but in no way detracted from your elegance. I couldn’t wait until you came home, and had decided on your name by the time I was halfway home. At only a year and a half, you never competed on the track, but had endured the rearing and training of a very battered track dog. A bright eyed wild child full of life, pale, beautiful and in need of a few manners – Paris.

In July of 04 you and your brother arrived and the party began. Everyone was your friend – you were overjoyed with your new home and happily fell into your new pack. You were always at the heart of the action and never without a big panting smile. You approached everyone with such a generous spirit and everything as a new game, another race – always teasing someone to join in. And they always did. If anyone ever boarded their hound with us, they were surely entertained by you.

At first you were such a handful. No manners, all smile and a whirl of energy. Nothing could contain you and it was so hard to try to steer you in the right direction without laughing – your charm and dancing eyes always got the best of me. There was never any need for food to motivate you to learn new things. You just lavished in the praise and I was happy to give it liberally – you did everything with such an eager spirit and excelled so fast. It was like watching a child with a new toy as I saw your face and strides full of understanding and response as we tackled new agility tricks. As bubbly and energetic as you were, you had an equally gentle, passive side. I could offer the tastiest of delicacies to you and you would take it from me with the tenderness of an angel.

I watched you and Armani with constant laughter and surprise as the two of you learned about life off the track. I still crack up thinking of the songs that you would lead he and the others in whenever I was getting ready to leave. The two of you were the center of an ever present whirlwind. Our world would change a lot that year. Thank you for bearing with me and for becoming such a brave, smart and resilient lady. Thank you for sharing your soul, comfort and bringing me daily smiles during a time that I didn’t think any could exist. I take comfort in knowing that you never had a lonely day – a single dog home would never have fit you.

At the start, there was a bit of rivalry between you and Macy, our alpha and rising agility champ. While there were surely reasons for you two to continue in a power struggle, it never happened. Somewhere along the way I even lost sight of who was leading. Not only did I not even blink after you somehow wrapped yourself around parts of my heart that only she knew, but I never even consciously recognized it. Macy had grown older and while I still championed her as alpha, I believe that even she had gifted the role to you along the way. If not, she was at least sharing it. How did I become one of these owners that doesn’t see that?!?

Only until two weeks ago did it even dawn on me that you were already in the role that I had knew you’d one day be. You had turned into a leader all on your own in a very short time. The way that you took Roxy under your wing when she joined our life was heart melting. She was so, so tiny that we had to watch so cautiously that you, Macy and Malibu realized that she was family and not prey. After a couple of weeks, you seemed to tag her as yours. And from there the most wonderful friendship among dogs that I have ever been fortunate enough to witness started to flourish into many seasons of amazement. Of pure love. Of celebrating each other like there’s no tomorrow.

We would nickname the two of you “Paris and Nicole” for your non-stop partying and antics. No, dull moments simply no longer existed. Our lives were fixated on keeping an eye on you two, keeping you well bandaged, out of trouble and laughing with you about it all the way. You treated Roxy with the tenderness of a mother along with the silly, playfulness of your first childhood best friend. You lightened up the world and begged everyone to see it as weightlessly as you did. You guided me to simply drink in the rich moments of our life – instead of drilling the same training routines into you, I found myself just watching the two of you from afar many times. It was just too beautiful to intrude and I took solace in seeing how bright and instinctive you were both becoming. Everything became a competition between the two of you and I’m surprised that all of our doors are still hinged after you each exuberantly made your way out of the ‘padlock’ each day.

When we moved to our Dunedin paradise, our pack had found it’s footing. Our new home gave you all that I had ever wanted for us. A huge yard, a great sunny dog room by the pool, and sunshine flooding in from anywhere in the house. There was room for agility, chase, squirrel hunting, sunning, swimming and as much area as you could dream to spread your toys. You thrived here and made use of every inch of our home and garden. That booming bark of yours certainly put the wildlife on notice.

You were my shadow and my muse. I could not have been any more in love with another creature and would just gaze into your dancing eyes to find peace in the day. We would sit for moments just exchanging adoring stares, your face glimmering, your love radiating and pouring out all around you. Then you’d make a silly gesture and we’d end up wrestling and teasing in hysterics. I’d tell you that the letter P was made for you and was short for Paris, Pretty and Perfect and then you would jump up glowing and give me a hug. Then it was off to start your game of arranging your toys all over the house, patio and yard. Which I would clean up only to have you begin again before I had the last toy in the basket. I joked that you were decorating. Tim would come home and you’d get spoiled some more, help him make dinner, and then show him more toys. You had such fun with him – I think maybe one of your jobs was to bring us all together. It certainly didn’t hurt to have you for him to fall in love with first.

You were the highlight of starting my day. Mornings do not delight nearly as much as your happy early bird face did, always the first up to start the day at my side. If you hadn’t already wedged your way onto the bed and begun delivering your steamrollers and belly rub requests by the time we got up, you’d soon be following closely behind as the morning began. And if I wasn’t paying enough attention, you knew how to prompt another round of laughter. Slamming your rump into the hallway wall and sliding your backside along the way was not something that I could stand by carrying a straight face and you knew it. I don’t know why you did this but I’ll never be able to clean your mark off that wall.

There was no fooling you about anything. You sensed things happening no matter how much we tried to throw you off the trail. Whether it was trying to sneak leashes together for an outing, subtly slipping out to thaw your dinner, or just needing to run a few errands, you always managed to be a step ahead. Whatever the occasion you would be adjusting your actions to those that you knew were expected before ever asked. Your willingness and desire to please was immeasurable. I am sure that I could have taught you anything.

Summer has always been my favorite time of year and you were such a special part of the season. Your soul was the epitome of all that summer stands for – laughing with friends like there’s no tomorrow, singing as though no one can hear you, and dancing center stage as though no one can see you. And if anyone did catch you carrying on with your melodic outside voice, bouncing jubilantly around your camp or smiling like a canary, then so what. They were all the better for being hypnotized by your charms. The spring and summers on our patio with you, Tim, Macy, Malibu and Roxy will forever be some of my fondest memories. You and Roxy learned to swim like pros. Even against your protests I know that you secretly liked it. Just as you secretly loved baths and are the only dog that I’ve ever known to actually ask for one. After either your bath or swim you could never resist diving into a towel, then dart madly around the house and patio, recharged and ready to go again. Easing the day away in the sun with you girls became my happy place, a secret garden where problems dared not intrude. Tim and I both reflected that it was our utopia, our Bridge to Terabithia. The work battered weeks evaporated into the sun drenched skies with you and our gang soaking in every golden moment. The balmy days turned into dusk with you and Roxy still going strong, chasing each other and anything that moved in your yard.

Paris, my lovely, sweet, wild, fragile china doll. You were so carefree and excited, but with such wreckless abandon. It was never hard for trouble to find you. By the time you were 6, I was begging you to stop accumulating the battle wounds and scars. It was all that I could do to protect you from yourself sometimes. I’ll never forget the painful shrill of you breaking your leg. I know I shouldn’t have gone on that interview but you could have found a better way to stop me! No greyhound should be unable to run for that long. I’ll never know if that break and consequent surgery was the cause or casualty of the disease that would take you from us. All I knew then is that I wanted you to run again and if you needed surgery then….

I’m not sure if it was before or after that point that it was Roxy who was then looking after you. We thought she was just anxious and nervous with all of her security checks, but it was you that she was worrying about. You helped us raise Roxy to be tough and nurturing by showering her life with affection and leadership, and now she was returning it all to you. She already was beginning to understand what I would never believe.

All in all, things returned to normal soon and within a few months you’d be charging around the yard with Roxy and the crew, albeit a bit more carefully. Looking back on it now, I see the silent shifts that were taking place around me. Bonds, understandings and the rights of passage of a dog pack were unfolding. Even while making strides to downshift from a schedule on overdrive, I still missed a lot of these quiet rumblings. I am so thankful that I had this last year and a half that I didn’t have to leave you for a much less appreciative job. I wish we could have played all day long.

I remember the trip to Brooksville to see Dr. C. You were as animated as ever as you and the girls ran around taking in all of the animals on the farm. You ran back and forth between the horses and the cows like a little girl on her birthday. We were there for Macy to get acupuncture but it would be you that we would learn needed the aggressive therapy. The growth that I believed to be an abscess on your jaw was not. The C word was among us. I was stunned. I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that the bond between you and Macy began growing stronger that day.

I asked you to do a lot while you were with us. You jumped through tires for me. You learned those pesky weaves for me. You walked along planks for me. You dove into the deep end of the pool for me. You sat through tears with me. You always shared and waited your turn. You wore stupid outfits out of household decor for my fun. Things weren’t always perfect and you loved me like they were. You left an indelible and magical mark on Roxy’s life and mine. You were our best friend and a kind, spirited leader. You kept us laughing and propelled my ability to believe and marvel in dreams. I asked you to trust me with a lot of things, but I would not ask you to give up your jaw.

We faced the news with homeopathy and acupuncture, while continuing other holistic care. After a few weeks, the growth burst and shrank by about a third. We rejoiced, remained positive and kept on top of check ups and treatments. You were always such a great sport. In early March, my heart sank when I saw that another mass had so quickly taken it’s place on your knee. How this could happen to you I will never understand. I know where to start, but it just doesn’t explain it fully to me.

I remained focused on the positive progress and refused to believe how sick you could be. I think you did the same. Never would I believe it. Never would I believe that your youth and strength would fail you. You just weren’t a ‘sick’ dog to me. Even in your illness you were still exquisite. Another few weeks passed and the growth on your jaw drained. What a horrible couple of days that was, but after a couple of weeks there was barely a sign of it. We thought things were on the right path.

Life continued. Your toys were scattered. You were at my side and you were frolicking with your family. I was counting down the days until I would finish my final project before taking a much needed rest and was looking forward to spending our summer playing in our secret garden. And then BAM! What had grown silent in our sight had grown turbulent and overpowering beneath.

May 13, 6pm. As sick as you visibly were, we continued to deny that you were facing anything that you couldn’t triumph. But the lack of toy activity perhaps made me worry as much as anything else. You, gentle Paris, were so brave and fought with such grace. We are awed by your strength and wish you never had felt a touch of pain. I hadn’t asked you to give up your jaw. I hadn’t asked you to sacrifice your leg. And in the end I wasn’t going to subject you to animal hospitals with out your family’s love. Macy, Roxy and Malibu were as much a part of your care as fluids, vitamins and meds. We were blessed with the ability to watch over and give you the supportive care that you needed at home with a very attentive vet a call away. You bounced back and shared many priceless moments with us in which I think we each had a chance to say goodbye. You knew it was time and you took time to do just about all of your favorite things in those last days, from racing Roxy to barking ferociously at birds to even squeezing in a couple of your naughty habits. More importantly, you sunned with your family and let us love you every second that we could. Losing you this early is the unthinkable, but you will remain timeless and brilliant to me.

On Tuesday June 8, you climbed onto the couch beside me. I thought you were upset with me, as I had been aggressively trying to change our fate. But from that spot you wouldn’t move – you’d spent every ounce of energy you had left to be beside me. On your couch. I sat with you and gave you one more pink lipstick kiss, as I always did before leaving “to last until I get back”. This time I whispered “to last forever”. Even after your final breaths, you gave me insights that I can never repay and memories that will always be a part of me. Thank you for being such an amazing friend to all of us. Even when we weren’t the greatest of humans you always made us feel like we were. Your thunderous footsteps, larger than life smile and spirit can never be replaced. I keep waiting for there to be a missing man fly over, but there is just silence.

We miss and love you beyond words, Sweet P.

xoxoxoxo

S, T, Roxy, Macy, Malibu and Armani

Parting Gifts

With the help of homeopathy during her final moments, we were able to help Paris peacefully take her last breaths at home surrounded by the love of her best friends. For 3 weeks I kept hoping to see her pick up a toy so I’d feel that she was ok, but after her illness took hold she never did. Roxy remained steadfast at her side and showed remarkable love and maturity. She also didn’t touch any of the toys during this time and remained an unusual several feet away from Paris, though loyally attentive of her sick friend’s every move. It’s as if she didn’t want to be responsible for breathing wrong. I can relate. After Paris passed, we groomed and sat in the quiet darkness with her still warm body, waiting for Pet Angels to arrive. Out of nowhere, Roxy jumped up with a boost of excitement, ran to the corner to grab a toy out of the basket that Paris always emptied, then charged through the house back and forth two or three times. I lost count as I sat unable to move or speak, completely transfixed on Roxy running like she and Paris used to race through the house, taunting each other with a toy. Tim was also speechless. An hour or so later when I went to the bedroom, I found the toy on the bed. None of the dogs have expressed any interest in the toy basket since.


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