Ode to Frida

 My little muse… studio goddess… resident clown…

She dogged me, especially in the last year – having lost sight in one eye due to a detached retina and her hearing gone, she’d awaken with a start and not see me sitting on her blind side, heave herself up and go off to search me out.

Couldn’t do the stairs any longer, or jump on and off the bed, so I carried her – on and off, up and down. Only 20 lbs, but she kept me buff.

What is it, to love a dog and be loved by a dog? For me, it is a testament to giving and caring. She didn’t mind if my hair looked bad or if I had an unproductive day – never judged me in any way. She proved you could make a mistake and feel terrible (when her kidneys and bladder failed), but be so thankful when no punishment came – a tail wag when I said, “that’s alright old girl, it’s okay”. She taught me to reevaluate the definition of “a good day”: a walk in the park, a nap in the sun, a treat you can chew (with the few teeth you have), any excuse to run in circles and act the fool – to age with grace with what you have left, until you have nothing left.

In the end, Frida didn’t know it was the end. We acted out of love and made that decision for her. She had stopped eating and couldn’t keep even fluids down. The vet came to the house, tears in her eyes. Frida gave a last small bark in defense, but softened to our visitor when she saw us greet her warmly, wagged her tail as she savored a last treat and tolerated the poke of the needle as the Valium eased her out of consciousness. She didn’t feel the final, heart-stopping drug which took her away forever.

After a few bad days, my husband hiked to the vet’s office to retrieve Frida’s ashes. They are in a small box in a prominent place in the living room, next to the photo of her I always took with me when I did readings of Lucky Boy. We had thought about scattering her ashes up at her beloved Mt. Tabor Park, where we walked every day, but in the end we decided she was such a house dog (didn’t even like to go into the backyard if it was raining) we will keep her ashes here in the house – a daily reminder of a stunningly sweet spirit, embodied in a stumpy-legged, barrel-chested wonder of a little dog named Frida.