Tuesday, January 04, 2011

a true friendship and a good death

Bittersweet news from Kerry O'Connor - who said yes to a creaky little old lady dog plucked out of Oakland Animal Services as part of our compassion hold program in spring 2009. Kerry went on to adopt 'Gemma' as her very own. Photographs by Lori Fusaro

"I wanted to let you know that Gemma passed away on December 24. I always wondered what Gemma’s life had been like before she came to my house. She must have been an amazing young dog! She loved her comforts – blankets warm from the clothes dryer, snoozing on the sofa, cheese, scrambled eggs (I was always trying to put weight on that girl!) She didn’t mind taking baths, was great about getting her nails done, followed me around like a little shadow, and up until the second to last day of her life, served as my 'doggie alarm clock.' She was able to sense when 6:30am rolled around – but never did understand that weekends were different and that she didn’t have to woof me awake quite so early on Saturdays and Sundays.

On Wednesday 12/22, Gemma feasted on tiny meals of chicken breast and baby food. She found a sunny place on the back lawn, and we sat together watching the leaves fall from my neighbor’s birch trees and the squirrels running on the fences. I couldn’t get her to eat or drink at all on Thursday, and on Friday she was becoming unsteady on her feet, and still wouldn’t eat or drink. She was alert and sweet, but I knew she was ready to leave, and that the kindest thing I could do was let her go.

The nobility of old dogs has always amazed me. Gemma had the look of a wise old ferret. The white fur around her eyes reminded me of a pair of spectacles. I also think about the huge numbers of our breed that never get the opportunity to be old dogs. You, and so many articles I’ve read, talk about how many of these wonderful dogs don’t make it to their second birthdays. Even the technicians at the vet mentioned it – seeing a pit bull type dog able to live to such a ripe old age.

I’m so happy to have known Gemma, and to have had the privilege of being her guardian since April 2009. I know, as you do, that there are so many other Gemmas out there, who deserve a sunny spot in a peaceful home to live out their days, and if her story makes one person consider adopting an old dog, then all the tears that have been shed in the last few weeks have been well worthwhile." Kerry O'Connor

Sweet blessings to both Gemma and her devoted person Kerry.

19 comments:

J.M. said...

Oh no,not another one I thought as I saw this pop up.
But what a wonderful tribute to an obviously much loved dog even if for a relatively short time.
The love expressed by the owners/caretakers/guardians of these dogs never ceases to amaze me.
RIP Gemma
My condolences to Gemma`s family and all those who knew her.

Donna said...

I know J.M! ... the holidays always seem to come with a few difficult passings. We have some happy beginnings to report too, and will get busy posting those as well.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kerry, I'm so sorry for your loss and bless you for the love and warmth you provided Gemma. As many of us face our dog's old age, its heartwarming to hear of another senior who has been honored and loved. Many thanks

Lynn in N. Cal

Diane said...

Condolences...

Kerry and Gemma's beautiful story, starting with some of the earlier posts, has inspired me to do compassion holds in the future.

(I need to do more work with my own dog to make bringing a new dog into the picture truly "compassionate" - we're getting there!!)

Looking forward to reading the "Happy Beginnings" and maybe some Chunk updates.

Leigh said...

Gemma was so beautiful ! A giant thank you to Kerry for taking amazing care of her. Gemma was so lucky to have you. Older dogs are the best. My thoughts are with you. I have shed tears for Gemma's passing.

Anonymous said...

dear kerry and badrap,
i want you to know that when life gets me down, i often turn to badrap's Happy Endings page to lift my spirits and remind me that there are many fine and generous people in the world after all. one of my most favorite stories is gemma's story. her short slow walks, her wagging tail, her love of cheese. there was a touch of the divine about her, i could tell. and indeed, something of the divine in you too, kerry. i'll continue to cherish gemma's Happy Ending story, secure in the knowledge of a life well lived, a dog well loved, and a measure of grace bestowed on us all.
thank you.
oxo in harlem

she who loves dogs said...

What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful girl! May you find comfort in the memories that you and Gemma created together, and may you always remember how blessed you were to have each other.

Best,
Emily Browning
www.shewholovesdogs.blogspot.com

Lori said...

I am so sad. And grateful I was able to meet Miss Gemma and take these photos. Kerry are an amazing woman, I'm so glad you opened your heart to this old gal. And thank you Donna and Tim for giving her that opportunity.

Love and prayers to you. Tyson too.

LORI

Linda said...

Bless you, sweet Gemma. My old guy, Jack (also a rescue), passed away on November 14 (lymphoma). He wasn't a bully dog but everyone-and I mean everyone-was his best friend. Hopefully you've met by now and have become buddies, running together and experience utter joy and happiness.

Rest well... both of you.

Dianne said...

I remember when Gemma went for a compassion hold. That is such a wonderful concept. And she got two good years ... I had my 13 yo Aby at the vet yesterday for a blood glucose curve and I mused that if I have him for another year I'll be pleased. My vet said he might make it to 18! Tonight when I get home we'll have some string cheese in memory of Gemma. So sorry for your loss but you know the answer (I get my new kitten in 2 weeks).

leigha said...

these stories always make me cry. happy tears for knowing that she got to live to be an old girl and had so much love. but also sad tears cause i know how much these dogs mean to their families and how missed they are when they leave our world. but i know they never leave our hearts. rip gemma.

jonzak said...

God bless that old body that passes on, and the eternal spirit of joy and love that lingers for as long as we choose. Though our friend has left for now, the memory of how wonderful it was to behold each other can never be released

Mike Sweeney said...

My condolences to you and yours!! You made a HUGE difference for her!!

Wittig Homestead said...

I believe that God smiles down at people like Ms. O'Connor.... Gemma - may you rest in peace... Much love from Tennessee

Cambridge Rat Mom said...

RIP, sweet Gemma. You were deeply loved and you will be missed.

NYCKitten said...

Kudos Kerry, you are a special person to make Gemma's goodbye so very, very special. Hugs from NYC.

LycanPrincess said...

RIP Gemma. It's bitter sweet when your her eof a Pit Bull passing away. At least she ha da good life with people who cared for her. Prrof that it's not the breed it's how the owners treat the dog.

Anonymous said...

Godspeed Beautiful Gemma and many blessings Kerry for the unconditional love you gave her in her final years...

Grillz said...

Awww, Gemma looked like such a sweet dog. I am sure she is in a better place now.