Death is a funny thing. Yup, it’s funny alright whether it’s the death of a person, animal or even a relationship. It ever after makes you see things in a different light and the void it leaves changes your life forever. On February 23rd, 2005, Cancer forced me to euthanize my beloved little Schipperke, Frankie, just a single day before her 13th birthday. As I sat/stood/paced in a “private” room at the vet’s office, our world, Frankie’s and mine, became a little bubble. Time moved more slowly for us as I was keenly aware of the laughter, voices and activity of those in the lobby and the back of the clinic. In our pain, I wondered why the world could not stand still with us for just a few moments. Why did it have to keep moving? My tears fell on Frankie’s face and she hadn’t the strength to comfort me as she struggled just to breathe.

The doctor came in and we decided to take my little one back to the operating room. At this point, we were still struggling with whether or not my dog could be saved. The ultrasound had only showed one bad section of colon. Perhaps we could still take it out cutting away what was killing her. When the doctor admitted there was less than a 10% chance of survival since Frankie had lost 50% of her body weight, we decided it was time. Vacillating again, we bounced ideas back and forth wondering if we were doing the right thing. I looked at Frankie and asked her, “What do you want me to do?” At this point, for just a second, her eyes cleared, she looked at me imploringly “Let me go”. She had been dying since I left her at the animal hospital that morning and the staff later admitted that she waited to pass until I arrived again.

The injection was administered, and in seconds the life that coursed through my beloved baby was gone. I remember thinking that her look did not change that much, she looked rather the same. In retrospect, I realized that when the Life Spark left her, she did indeed look nothing like herself.

We opened her then, looking for evidence of the killer within her (although we were the ones with the final needle). Once inside, it was clear that she could not have survived any aggressive technique undertaken. She was eaten alive with cancer throughout her entire intestinal tract and her liver. I held her guts in my gloved hands marveling at something I had never seen before. Respecting what had once been her, we closed the incision and waited for the slide to be prepared. I had to see the demon cells under the microscope. I had to be sure. For me, this was the way to obtain closure, to know finally, that the humane and just thing had been done. Viewing the slide later, NOTHING but cancer cells were present. This would totally explain why none of the food I gave her over the last couple of months was being absorbed.

Back in the room with her, I kissed her goodbye and petted her little head. Life continued on around us. I could hear the vet techs laughing, the doctor taking her next case, and we existed inside our bubble again….but this time….one of us was gone. Later in the lobby, paying out, the vet laughed with a client, the staff bustled past doing their work, NOTHING had changed. Nothing had changed but Frankie and me. Did the world not know that my little one had just died? Once again, I wished they would all stand still for just One Single Moment. It became clear to me that life just does not work this way. You’re here, you’re gone, and it’s as if you never were. You live on ONLY in the minds of those who choose to remember you. This remembrance makes your mark on the world.

In the days since, I can’t stop thinking about her. I still see her patrolling the perimeter of the fence keeping us all safe. I still hear her very distinctive bark. I still see her image, dead, on the table. I still see her image, healthy, launching herself towards me when I called. I see her spinning on the kitchen floor doing our “trick”. Most of all, even in her weakened state, I see her pull herself up off the floor to come looking for me. I owed it to her to stay with her in death. I owed it to her to lay my hands on her and keep them there as she drew her last breath and beyond. My life, truly impacted by this silly little dog is definitely not the same.

Yup, death is a funny thing alright. It leaves everyone and everything involved – forever changed.
Frankie, the Schipperke featured on "Animal or Saint"

Frankie 2/24/1992 to 2/23/2005
Featured on our first recording of “Animal or Saint”

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