Wednesday, 16 November 2011

And I miss you like hell

My dear dog passed away on November 11th, exhausted by hemolytic anaemia.

Due to these few depressing weeks, I have neglected my blog and I will still put off my Halloween posts etc. I have many things to write about, but they'll have to wait. Please be patient.

I will dedicate this post to my best friend, as I think writing this is an important part of my grieving process. I will certainly never forget her, but I also want to make sure I will remember each and every detail of her that gave me so much joy during our twelve-year-long journey together.

May 11th, 1999 – November 11th, 2011

As you can see, she was twelve years and a half to the day when she died. In a way I feel slightly bitter – only twelve and a half years! Dachshunds's life expectancy is from ten to fifteen years! And we all had quietly decided that she would become the oldest dog in the country – and she had all the requirements for such, being healthy, strong, with enough exercise and good nutrition... She should have had many more years to live! If it just hadn't been for the insidious illness which struck out of the blue... It feels so unfair.

However, I know that's not the way to think. Life is not fair, and who gets to determine their own days? No one. The same applies to the days of our loved ones. It's a sad fact that all the time someone loses a loved one too early; many of those being too young to die, totally innocent or otherwise not deserving their fate. But it's just... life. Oona and I got to spend over twelve healthy years together. Some people have lost their dogs young, after being run over by a car or even worse – having fallen victim to a dog hater's malicious violence. Our first dog died at the age of eleven, but her death was mysterious – she went from being normal to fighting for her life in less than eight hours, and we never found out why since we couldn't get a vet in time. However, later a vet suspected she might have died of rat poison. Back then, in my early teenage, I took it to heart and became very bitter. Now, however... I cannot blame anyone for Oona's death. I feel that there would have been so many more moments for us to share with each other, but I also know that during those twelve years we already gathered so many memories that I have a lot to cherish. This may feel unfair, but I have to accept it; death comes for everyone, and rarely with a good timing.

I won't go into the details of her death much, but to cut a long story short; in spite of being "officially" my dog, she lived with my parents. Not taking her to live with me in a city was probably the best favour I could do her. As she was always terribly timid, she would never have learnt to enjoy a life in a city. And especially after she fell ill, I could never have taken care of her well enough – living alone and working full-time... No, she was certainly doing better at my parents' place as I know they take extremely good care of our dogs. And this said... I saw Oona for the last time eleven days before her death. I would have liked to be there next to her when she quietly passed away, but on the other hand... I already said farewell to her when I last saw her alive as I knew it could be the last chance. And well, although I wasn't there, I know her end was as good as it could.

Some time ago I said I'd write about what is so special about Oona – besides the fact that she was my dear, own dog. Some people's reactions to the sad piece of news of her death have been quite touching as it's obvious Oona had managed to melt many hearts during her lifetime. My opinions are mostly subjective, yet there are a few things which make her seem somewhat objectively special.

Lil' miss happy new dog owner (looking stupid)

I already mentioned she was very timid. We noticed this immediately after taking her home. She was always afraid of everything – children in particular, but people in general... Yet she was not angry, I cannot remember her ever showing her fear by growling let alone by biting whenever someone got too close to her. She used to bark under a couch when we got guests.
Somehow, unsocial animals have always fascinated me more than those who are particularly friendly to anyone. When it comes to horses, I always preferred those that were a bit difficult because it was very rewarding to eventually see how they began to trust you. And this applies to dogs too, although I naturally established my bond with Oona very early and then she never questioned my trustworthiness. However, I felt important, being one of the few people she ever showed any love to.

Despite being so timid, Oona got slightly famous. We didn't try to promote her, but "rumours" leaked and eventually she appeared in a local newspaper and on a local radio channel. And strangely enough, I later encountered people who remembered her.
The reason for her fame was her dear and very active hobby which she started at the age of about six months and continued as long as her condition allowed her to. Simply enough; she loved playing the piano, and singing at the same time.

Now you might think that I taught her to do that, but oh, I certainly did not! I would never have thought she'd learn something like that! Not that silly puppy who seemed to have serious trouble understanding the concept of newspaper spread out on the floor. Yet one evening it happened – she was alone in the living room when we suddenly heard the sound of piano keys being pressed – once – and went to see what on earth had happened. We didn't expect to find an embarrassed puppy sitting on the chair in front of the piano. That's how it began, and she never seemed to get enough of playing.

Her motive will remain a mystery, yet it was obvious she knew how to get our attention. I know she's not universally unique with her hobby, but I guess many of the dogs who do something similar have been taught or encouraged to do it, and at least I've never seen any video of a dog doing it with the same enthusiasm as Oona. She had her major and minor tunes, depending on the mood – the editor who wrote the article of her for the newspaper described her style as experimental jazz.

I've been pondering over this for years – well, for twelve years. I think that was innovative of her, whatever her original idea was. And that's very fascinating. Taking up such a hobby is quite exceptional for a dog, and it makes me wonder what equally exceptional I could achieve in my life. It certainly inspires me to try to think out of the box, to see beyond my own limits.

My loss makes me feel desperate. They say, "friendship is one mind in two bodies", and I think that describes our bond very well. She was my best friend – and on the other hand will always be. Whenever no one else understood me, she always did. We shared the same wit, we understood each other so well. While others described her timid nature as being prejudiced, I always thought she was smart for not being too gullible. And somewhere deep inside, I'm just like her; suspicious, timid and uncertain. I guess that's why I always felt she was my soul mate.

I would love to embrace her once more, stroke her soft fur, ask her to give me a kiss (something I had taught and something she agreed to do to me) and look her in the eyes; those gentle and understanding eyes. I would love to share my secrets with her, go for a walk in a forest with her, cuddle up with her... But those times are over. I have my memories. And I already got her back once – when she disappeared in 2007. Being quite far away from home, the situation seemed quite bad and we were sure we would never see her alive again. However, eventually she was found, in a good condition but tired. Back then I was lucky.

Although I am very sad and still keep crying daily, I'm trying to go on. I've been neglecting my own health and the people around me while worrying over Oona. The anxiety is gone now – nothing can harm her anymore. Sorrow won't leave me any time soon, but I'm trying my best to avoid total depression. I know that if Oona could still tell us something, it would be something like:
"Please don't be sad, I'm alright now."
And that's true, although it hurts. The illness didn't probably cause her pain, but it slowly made her weaker and weaker. And still; her strong heart probably was the reason why she managed to hold onto life that long.

I wanted to do something in order to honour her memory, and thus, I went to get my ear pierced yesterday. Does this sound absurd? I shall explain. I got my first two ear piercings on the day Oona was born. It was a coincidence, but I doubt I would have remembered a piercing date without such a happy event. At some point I thought I'd just go get another two piercings to my left ear lobe, but then I figured that since I had my right ear lobe pierced twice in the spring for no reason, similar piercings on the left would seem just as pointless. Thus, I decided to get a real hole to the cartilage because it'd be more remarkable. With a ring with a ball-shaped lock, it actually represents Oona in many ways. The ring is like the letter O, and she used to like playing with ring-shaped rubber toys. She also liked playing football (soccer) and the ring, being of a cold and hard material, resembles stones, which she loved. She didn't play with wooden sticks, she always picked up a stone instead.

"The first two holes on the day you were born, and one painful stab for the wound your death tore into my heart."

Oona meant a world to me. She taught me so many things I ever needed to learn about life. She was a small dog with a huge soul, and a spirit that never dies. I will keep mourning, but I will also try to keep looking back on all the great moments we shared together.

A song that will always remind me of her:

Rednex – Wish you were here
"And I miss you like hell,
and I'm feeling blue."
Sleep well, my dear friend. Someone will always love you.


  1. I'm sorry to hear that your dog passed away. She sounds like she was very special. I loved the story of her playing the piano.

    All my best wishes.


  2. Thank you, Zelde. I'm glad if the stories I have of her can be of some entertainment to people. It touches me if she still manages to impress.

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