Archive for August 2nd, 2008

Saying Goodbye…

Shea Nowicki was not simply a dog. She was Tom’s soulmate and partner. As Tom tells it, he was not a dog person and he certainly wasn’t looking for a dog when he glanced into the eyes of his future. Shea opened his world and his heart for 13 years. Not nearly long enough, in anyone’s estimation. But when facing life without the daily contact of such a driving force, one must be thankful for whatever time they were graced by her.

Shea was the inspiration behind Hip Dog Hydrotherapy and that is how we came to know her and Tom. They were willing to help us ease the aches and pains of old age in our beloved minpin, Ramirez. This was some 5 or so years ago. Ramirez hated the water but he’s an excellent swimmer and he miraculously trusted Tom. We started off going on a regular basis and we saw great improvement. It was also nice just to sit with my legs dangling in the water, Shea beside me for company, chatting with Tom as he made my boy swim. Ramirez is now 16 years old and we can no longer go to Hip Dog as we once did. Tom gave us an emergency session last year after he fell off the bed but that was the last time Ramirez was in the pool. In these last few years, Tom and Shea have helped several of our old, arthritic dogs to feel better and for that we will forever be thankful.

We attended Shea’s memorial service this week. When we got the email that she had died, Scottie and I felt devastated. Not only for the unexpected loss of such a special dog, but for the idea that Tom was now going to be without her. There was no question we would go to honor her at the pool. We brought Ramirez along in a rare outing, as he now prefers his bedroom to going anywhere. As soon as Tom saw him, it started all of us crying. Seeing the anguish in Tom was difficult. It reminded me of the place I’m also destined to be when it is Ramirez’s time to leave us. All of us dog people know of the Rainbow Bridge and that’s where we want our pets to wait for us. It’s comforting to imagine our aged and sick pets whole and happy but it doesn’t help how much we miss them. Nothing anyone says will help. Nothing anyone does will help. Time will eventually make the hurt not so searing but when you truly love a pet, the feeling of loss is always there in some way.

There were about 30 people and a handful of well-behaved dogs in attendance. We all lined up around the pool, holding candles as best we could in the wind. There were several candles floating all around the pool. It was a beautiful and peaceful scene. Tom was somehow able to read a poem with great eloquence. He asked us to continue telling folks about Hip Dog so Shea can continue helping others feel better.

Several of us took turns saying Shea stories and letting Tom know how special she was to everyone. I tried to be strong but the tears flowed as soon as I began speaking to thank them for helping with our cattledog, Rebecca the last few months of her life. From some stores told, it’s obvious Shea is going to be missed on Park Avenue at all the eateries and stores that kept special Shea cookies on hand. How will Tom be able to walk the Avenue without her at his side? At the end we all blew bubbles. It was magical to see them floating on the nighttime air.

In a move befitting such a spirit as Shea, it was obvious all the floating candles had made their way to Tom’s feet. I pray she will continue to guide him as she always did and that he will open his heart again when she tells him he’s ready.

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