Last year, during an online painting class that I took, I painted a portrait of Pearl. I'm glad I did it before she left us—it would've been too hard to do it after. To preserve the memories of great times with her, I also put together this shadowbox. It holds her collar and heart-shaped tag with the last bow that the groomer put on in it, her favorite toy, a grungy pink squeaky ball and her AKC papers. I've also included a favorite picture that I took of her, coincidentally the day we got the pathology report on one of her mast cell tumors. I had taken her to DQ that evening to drown our sorrows, 'cause that's how I roll. Finally, the box of memories includes the last piece of Pearl that we have—a tuft of fur from her wonderful plume of a tail. I'm so grateful that Tabatha thought to save that for us. I still plan to go back down to the Plaza to the Three Dog Bakery store to buy a handful of Jump and Sit Bits. Those were her favorite treats, although now that I think about it Pearl never ate a treat she didn't love, but they were the perfect size for our little girl. The last time I went there I took her with me and was holding her while looking around the shop and she pooped—right into my purse—and on top of my iPhone!! The staff was great about helping me get everything cleaned up. Even that is a good memory.
The road of life never is even without hills and valleys, but the last several weeks have been filled with some big ups and some big downs. After more than two years of nursing an aging dog with many ailments, we lost our precious gem of a dog, Princess Pearl Petite on Sunday afternoon, August 26th at about 12:45. The hardest decision we've ever had to make, became a bit easier after several days of greater decline. Those last moments are burned into my memory and are so painful. If I go into the details I won't be able to get on to the good stuff, so I won't share those now. It doesn't matter too much now anyway. What does matter is that Pearl was the most loved dog in the world, and we did everything we could to make her life long and with the best quality it could possibly be.
Below I've copied the words I used on that day and the day after.
From Facebook on August 26th: The sweetest dog in the world is now an angel and my heart is completely broken.
In response to all of the supportive comments on August 27th: I'm sorry I haven't thanked you all for your warm, caring, supportive comments sooner. It's been too painful to do it, and I'm crying now as I write this. I always knew this day would arrive, and knew it would hurt, but I never imagined just how much and how big the ache would be. I miss her "smile", her trust, playfulness, loyalty and so much more. I miss my "shadow" as I walk into my studio or her waiting for me there, knowing it was time to work. I will miss going out to run errands through drive thru's, not because they needed to be done right then, but because i knew she'd enjoy it and reward me with her smiles afterward. Mostly right now I want to bury my nose in that sweet, soft, yummy fur and inhale a deep whiff of her. Every night as she fell asleep between by legs and lay her head on my leg, knowing she felt so safe there, she dug a hole deeper into my heart that will never be filled again. My sweet, lovable Pearl—your were truly the best gem of a dog, and you will shine in my memory to the end of time. Thank you all for understanding just how much a dog becomes a part of your family. I'm blessed to have a community of family and friends who care so deeply. And, if you have a pet, please give them a kiss tonight for me.
What did help to ease some of the pain was working with the most compassionate vet. Dr. Tabatha Regehr at Perimeter Veterinary Center, was a godsend. Over the past two years she'd given us her cell number and email address so we could call anytime of the day or night. She emailed to check in when it had been a while since she'd seen us. Tabatha took Pearl home with her overnight after she did the last surgery in October so she could care for her because we were so nervous about the large incision. She cried with us and comforted us and checked in on us and is a true angel. She even made a donation to K-State's Pet Tribute in Pearl's memory. We are planning to do the same in her honor.
A few days later I went to the groomer that we'd been taking Pearl to for years. I planned my trip for right at five o'clock when she'd be closing, so it wouldn't ruin her day and so we'd have time to talk. When I walked in a new assistant, who I hadn't met yet, came out to answer the door. I told her I was there to see Jean and she went to the back room to get her. Jean knew why I was there, opened the door, waited for me to nod my head to confirm, and then came out crying. We held each other and cried together. A card arrived from her a few days later saying how she appreciated us entrusting Pearl to her for so many years and that the memories would be very dear to her. How wonderful to be surrounded in life by people who are so empathetic and supportive! We are blessed.
And, so now I sit here at my computer, and could continue to for as long as I want since Pearl isn't here to remind me it's time to go to bed. I suppose it is easier to work when I want to without distraction, to sleep through the night without having to trod down the stairs holding her sweet smelling, furry little body and hope I don't trip and fall, to come and go from the house without worrying about the little one who needs constant love and attention. But, the house feels so empty all by myself without my little companion and it will be a very long time until I stop expecting her to come clean up the kitchen floor when I drop food, or welcome me home or miss the weight of her little body nestled between my legs in bed at night.
Rest in peace sweet Pearl.
Come back for the hills in the road.....
Pearl is a 14-1/2 year old Maltese and my faithful studio assistant. She alternates between sleeping in her comfy bed at my feet, guarding the doorway to my studio and helping make design decisions. Last week she had surgery for her second mast cell tumor, which turned out to be a grade 3—the most aggressive kind. We got the pathology results on Tuesday while Boyd was out of town. Pearl and I needed to drown our sorrows, so we went to DQ for ice cream. Most people like to drown in alcohol, but Pearl and I prefer the cold, creamy stuff. She LOVES going through the drive through there and getting a "Pup Cup." So Tuesday night we headed over there, just the two of us. We waited patiently in the line of cars until we pulled up to the window. I was still patient but Pearl couldn't restrain herself and went nuts! After pulling around into the parking lot, getting out of the car, we sat down on the grass, and she proceeded to devour that pup cup. She loved every. single. drop. In fact, she would've been even more happy with a double (she takes after me that way with ice cream—there's never enough!) I tried to shoot pictures with my phone in one hand while keeping the cup from scooting away as she licked with frenzy. Then, she just as happily got back in the car, and rode with the window down, enjoying a more temperate Fall evening.
Before heading home we ran through another drive through at Walgreens. Again, she went crazy and wagged with enthusiasm! And, again she was rewarded with a yummy dog treat (well, SHE thought it was yummy—I didn't partake).
When we got home she was so grateful for the good time and obliged me with posing for this terrific photo.
I love running errands with my furry assistant, enjoying the breeze and the scenery. I intend to run as many errands as I can with Pearl over the next months, reveling in all of the treasures we find along the way. Enjoy the pics and think good Pearl thoughts as she begins chemo treatment tomorrow morning. Pearl and I both thank you.
For the final week of Get Your Paint On I decided to paint another animal after been successful with the geese last week. I've never painted animals before this, especially in any representational kind of style, so I thought I'd continue in this direction. Princess Pearl Petite is the most amazing dog in the world—made for loving and cuddling, she's a 14.5 year old Maltese who's been through a lot in the last year. This week her arthritic leg is really bothering her and it breaks my heart. I carry her around so she doesn't have to walk on three legs. I've always thought it would be cool to paint a portrait of her and now seemed the perfect time—much better to do it now while she's still around!
I'm having trouble painting the fur and getting the darker areas to receded, particularly on the right front leg where it bends and under the collar. I also tried painting on Gessoboard this time. I found the surface very slick working with acrylics—paint seemed to dry even faster, had troubles blending, and had problems with the paint adhering in some places. Perhaps it would have helped to sand a bit first. Last week I painted on an unprimed cradled board and liked the more absorbent surface better.
I'm not sure it's quite finished yet, but didn't want to wait any longer to post to the class group. I look forward to any comments and suggestions. And, if it changes significantly, I'll repost.
Next to Teddy Bears, dogs were on the list of Grandma Betty's favorite things. Dogs and cute, little children. Since I don't have any little kids anymore, I brought Pearl up to Betty's room for a day. Pearl surprised me. She didn't bark at all of the fun people she saw and didn't try to leave the room to go exploring all of the exciting new places to check out around the home. Instead she curled up on the end of Betty's bed and did what Maltese dogs do naturally–be a loving companion. I don't know if Betty felt her presence in that room at the end of her bed, but I thoroughly enjoyed her calm demeanor and comfort. Her soft, white fluff and warm, cuddly, little body made it easier to sit there in the room and give comfort to Betty. Thank God for dogs.
I read today about a dog who called 911 when his human was having a seizure. Dogs are truly amazing creatures. I can't begin to imagine life without Pearl. She's my constant companion, curled up under my desk all day long.
This pic was taken with my long awaited iPhone! Maybe I'll blog more now that I have such an easy tool to use.