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