A Tribute to Pickles, Part 1

Posted by Pia

I can't believe it's been a year already! I thank you all for being such engaged and supportive readers since my having joined you here at the DW. I also want to thank Martha and DW editor Mark Ganem for inviting me to join such elegant canine authors as Frannie and Sharkey!

Many of you wrote to welcome Pickles and me to the DW when we arrived a year ago. At that time Pickles had only recently passed, and I was unsure how I wished to address any discussion related to her. And as you know, I do not believe there is a uniform way to handle loss. I am a big believer in taking the time we need and doing what feels fitting as we navigate our grief.

As we mark the passing of a year together, I feel ready and eager to tell you about that very special snaggle-toothed little blond in my bio photo: my beloved Pickles.

1 of 12
Pickles's under-bite was truly a site to behold!

1 Pickles's under-bite was truly a site to behold!

As co-

2 As co-"spokesbeings" for Adopt-a-Pet.com, Pickles and I often matched our accessories for media appearances!

A very proud mama and her little girl!

3 A very proud mama and her little girl!

A blond and a brunette!

4 A blond and a brunette!

I used to say she had tusks like an elephant!

5 I used to say she had tusks like an elephant!

I always felt a great deal of pride and admiration for my Pickles!

6 I always felt a great deal of pride and admiration for my Pickles!

Bath time, while not a favorite activity, was surprisingly well tolerated!

7 Bath time, while not a favorite activity, was surprisingly well tolerated!

Here she is with one of her feline sisters -- the lovely 3-legged Ms. Olive.

8 Here she is with one of her feline sisters -- the lovely 3-legged Ms. Olive.

Pickles and I could be quite

9 Pickles and I could be quite "catty" together when we wanted to be.

A pickle bunny is a very rare creature.

10 A pickle bunny is a very rare creature.

Here is Pickles pondering what to do next with her canine sister Luna!

11 Here is Pickles pondering what to do next with her canine sister Luna!

What a little angel!

12 What a little angel!

I miss that little gherkin every single day. It was only recently that I told a good friend I might be ready to adopt another small dog into my family. And while I may or may not have done this yet ;) , before we go there, I'd like to tell you a bit about Ms. Pickles.

Below is Part 1 of a tribute I wrote and shared with friends and family who had known her through the years. Although her passing occurred prior to my 'meeting' all of you, I'm hoping that sharing it will leave you feeling as though you too knew this very precious soul!

A Tribute to Pickles, My Special Little Girl

Good things do indeed come in small packages: Pickles was proof positive of that.

I have a small frame on my desk that reads, "Can rescuing just one animal out of thousands really make a difference?...It made a difference to this one," and the little face peering at me from behind the glass is that of my beloved Pickles. Genuine. Loving. Present.

While the frame answers one question, it does not speak to the other life that has been impacted so profoundly: mine. In many ways, the love engendered by saving her life has sustained mine. My little snaggle-toothed partner was indeed just that -- a partner. And I miss her deeply.

"Chihuahua to die Monday."

That was the subject of an email that began a whole new world for me, a world I will cherish deeply and miss more than I can possibly express. It arrived late on Friday, November 10, 2000, while I was living in Atlanta. There was little information other than an estimated age of 8 years. I was not looking to have a dog, but knew that the little soul I'd just met in cyberspace needed a chance. I was not planning to keep her. I just planned to make room in my place to at least secure her life. Little did I know that the "little" space I was making for this "little" dog would open up a place in my heart that would be anything but little. That 4-legged, 6-pound gremlin quickly moved through every chamber of my heart and unpacked her things. I didn't know what the plan was for her, but I think she somehow did.

I found my way to the shelter in rural Georgia that Monday morning. I requested that they simply get the dog with impound number 008767P from the back, as I knew I would not be able to handle seeing the faces of others who also needed a space in someone's heart.

Within minutes, a scrappy little creature came peering around a corner, and I introduced myself. I felt totally lost, as I had never had a dog of my own and knew nothing about these little ones. I learned that she had been found running along the highway un-spayed, with no tags, and had likely had a few litters.

After filling out the paperwork to take her, we loaded into my mustard-colored Volvo 240 station wagon and headed home, two little souls with no real plan but lots of love to give and the ability to figure it out as we went along -- sometimes the best kind of plan, really.

Pickles and I spent the following days kind of checking each other out…staring at each other curiously and considering a plan. Well, maybe I was the one considering a plan while she absolutely knew that she would be signing the lease and simply needed to scope out which would be her favorite napping spots.

Within a month I got to hear her first bark and the first signs of what would ultimately become the most amazing welcome home anyone could ever wish for. She performed a very vocal interpretive dance when I came through the door. It was akin to a rain dance you might see in a hill tribe, punctuated by sprints to and from the water bowl. Priceless.

That welcome home dance is something I will cherish ever moment of my life. Words cannot express how lucky I feel to have been its recipient. It artfully confirmed the depth of love that exists in these creatures who are our kin.

My dear Pickles, I hope that someone up there is doing a welcome home dance for you like the one you always did for me. Your snaggle teeth. Freckly Dr. Seuss paws. Tongue peeking out. Spittle on your chin. All your gremlin ways… I will miss you so very much.

In Kinship,

Dr. Pia Salk

P.S. Be sure to check back for part 2 next week.

Comments (15)

  • Dr. Pia

    Another tear jerker story, your little Pickles is a cutie.

    I knew a Maltese once named Murphy and his tongue would stick out because he lost his bottom teeth, he was a cutie too.

    I hope you adopted another little dog I'm sure Pickles would want that even though she'll always have a special place in your heart.

    Have a great day.


  • Hello ladies, Kirby here.
    What a start for a good story about your Pickles, Dr. Pia. I know that if she would outlived you she would have a special place in her heart for you just as you have for her. My “boys and girls” went away six years ago and I look for them daily. I miss them so much. I try to remember the good things we did together. I have pictures of them on my Facebook page (Kirby Bear). Looking forward to next weeks addition to the story.
    Catch you later, Kirby.

  • What a loving story of girl and dog; it really touched my heart. I have a $1,200 Cairn Terrier (actually he is grandchildren's dog), and a "found" 70 pound mix - Lucky. They are both valuable and loved. I only mention the price of the terrier because I think it is beyond description considering the dogs in shelters who need a home like your Pickles. I always had cats before the dogs arrived. I lost my last cat (Tiger BiscuitHead - also a stray) to cancer and haven't been found yet by my next cat. Actually, I don't know how Lucky would react to a kitty. I'm so glad you and Pickles had each other - what lucky girls you are!!

  • Dear Dr Pia,
    What a precious angel you had in your care. My heart goes out to you. We lovers of animals take them so deeply into our lives and hearts. Rebel is new to our home. It has been 5 years since I had to be "brave" and go to our vets to put down our 15 year old Sheltie. Little Rebel comes to our house after the death of my father-in-law. We now have a 5 year old Black& Tan chihuahua who is quite the character and is already endearing himself to us. Our thoughts will be with you, Dr. P.
    your on-line friends,
    Sharon & Rebel

  • Oh my goodness what a heart-wrenching story about you and Pickles! I give you so much credit for loving such a Gremlin, she looked like personality plus.
    I would love to do a small painting for you of Pickles, but that's up to you...click on my name and you can contact me...it would come from my heart.
    Thank You Dr.Pia for your big heart and all the things you do for needy pets.

    Kindest Regards,

  • Hi Dr. Pia, I love this blog about precious, adorable little Pickles and I appreciate the fact that you saved her. This reminds me very much about when I saved my precious, adorable 5 year old dachshund, Cricket from being euthanized because she was getting too fat. After taking her to a vet to help her lose weight, they discovered that she had canine cushings disease. Things improved and she lost weight and was a very special little girl. Unfortunately she had an unknown disc problem and became paralized after 5 years. She died after her surgery. Like you, I think about her everyday and hope she is having fun running around there in Heaven. Thanks for sharing. Jan

  • http://www.ritualwell.org/lifecycles/sitefolder.2006-10-25.0669142154/PrimaryObject.2006-03-20.1747

    Kaddish for a Beloved Pet

    by Rabbi Steve Kirschner

    “Those who die go no further from us than God, and God is very near.” - Anon.

    You, Who are Exalted,
    You, Who are Holy,
    You, Whose great name we praise
    in times of grief,
    Please bless my pet, who too briefly
    blessed me here.

    Keep him near,
    Hold him close.
    You, Whom we revere,
    You, Who are wise,
    Look kindly on him with Your eyes.
    Keep him safe from hunger, cold and fear.

    His needs are few.
    You, Who are all
    our hopes and dreams,
    You, to Whom we pray and weep,
    Make space beside You where he can sleep.
    A little place will do. He’s small.

    I pray that in Your peace-filled
    Realm, he finds peace, too.
    You, Who know, show him that
    Pain is short, that play’s preferred.
    Make him strong and sturdy, once again.
    For all this I pray. Amen. Amen.

    © Steven J. Kirschner May, 2001

  • Amazing! You are both amazing!!!!

  • What I noticed were her seductive eyelids and long lashes, giving her a kind of sultry, skeptical look. Thank you for sharing her story. I have known versions of that welcome home dance and there's nothing like it.

  • Wow!
    Thank you all so very much for your lovely sentiments and kind words!
    Much appreciated!
    In kinship,
    Dr. Pia

  • I was blessed to know the unique and amazing Pickles personally. Although words often fall short of capturing the many blessings and bonds our canine family members bring, Pia has managed to verbalize these in a beautiful and eloquent tribute. I am certain Pickles is welcomed with a rain dance each and every day.

  • What a wonderful, wonderful story.
    Loved reading about her "rain dance!"
    So heartwarming, & brought tears to my eyes!

    I am lucky enough to get a "rain dance" from Indy & Cleo every day.

    MIshele, Indy & Cleo ♥

  • I am lucky enough to say I call Pia and Miss Pickles friends... I used to love to hang with Pickles in my office.. what a beautiful soul both these ladies have
    Much love to you both
    Love and licks
    Bess and Byron

  • I knew Pickles well and miss her too. She is the star of so many stories we can tell, but mostly I remember her for screaming- literally screaming with ecstatic joy every single time Pia walked through the door. Picklzina- we love and miss you.

  • What a beautiful tribute to your little pickles. Sometimes I think it is us that are the lucky chosen ones. We are forunate to have been graced by their presence & happily remember all the wonderful things they did & pure joy they have brought to our lives.

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