Homage to a Beloved Friend

Claudine Ascher Art > Blogue > Homage to a Beloved Friend
Bambi’s Dream
acrylic on pannel
I lost my darling Bambi today. The sweetheart was at the end of her energy – she’d not eaten much the last couple of weeks and nothing since yesterday. She lost a good six pounds in four months, which for a 19 pound, 11 year-old miniature schnauzer… I’m afraid it’s because of my broken arm. She was always fragile, a rescue dog with epilepsy, weak liver, arthritis, and soft teeth, but she was doing really well until my accident in January. 
I have no doubt that the stress we were under as I healed, including dealing with my other dog, her schnauzer buddy’s new diagnosis of chronic rhinitis, pushed her sensitive immune system over the edge. I suddenly kept finding new bumps on her body that turned out to be very fast growing cancers. By this morning she had three as big as golf balls and at least six others from marble to pea size. There was no way she had enough flesh to remove them all, and anyway, her lack of appetite was a good indication that she had more growing inside.
Until yesterday, despite her weakness, she was going for walks and chasing sticks in the garden. Today, however, she could hardly sustain her tail wagging. She couldn’t even swallow her pain pills. She was ready. When I wrapped her up in a towel, she just settled into my arms and leaned her head against my shoulder. In my friend’s car she curled up on my lap and held her bead up towards me. When we got to the vet’s, she didn’t shake, she didn’t try to jump off my lap to hide under my seat, she didn’t try to go to the other dogs waiting in the anteroom or to get to the exit door. She just sat, warm in my embrace. When we were called in and i sat once more with her she didn’t react to the vet’s touch as he shaved her leg and put in  the needle, she just lay against my chest, heart to heart as I stroked her,, her soft head resting on my arm. I only knew she was gone because her head slid down slightly towards my elbow. 
She loved to chase sticks in the garden and in parks, and balls and stuffed animals in the house. I made a kind of lane for her with a hall carpet  and a big pillow at the end against a wall into which she’d crash at full speed after catching her ‘prey’. She liked to bark at the world through the living room window, sitting on the back of the couch to look out, but when friends arrived she greeted them with such delight no one could resist her. She looked to me, her best friend, with such a mixture of mischief, joy, devotion and trust that I was blessed.
I think only those who share that much love with an animal know such a blessing.
It’s good I have done many sketches, drawings and paintings of her over the eight years she was my friend, and that I’ve caught many of her moods and movements in photographs. She is gone but will ever be present, and she will continue to inspire me, as do the other beings, human or animal, that I’ve loved and lost over the past number of years.

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