Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Emma, Happy birthday, 11 years old, born December 16, 1998

Emma was born in a Hudson river town in New York on the sixteenth of December, 1998. We brought her home to Tenafly, New Jersey, after she was weaned and old enough to contend with her brother Aesop, who had been born in a previous litter. From her earliest days we knew that Emma had a distinct personality, which differed from her brother's. Whereas Aesop adapted to his older "sister," twelve-year Kate , and learned doggy ways from her (Kate had an a different lineage altogether; she died during his puppyhood), Emma asserted herself and drove poor Aesop to distraction when she was a pup. Her baby teeth must have bothered her, but they could also be used for play that was painful. Had she remained with her siblings then she would have known that you do not jump on the back of your sister or brother and nip them with your needle-sharp teeth because the rough and tumble could be turned against you as well. So poor Aesop found himself beset upon by Emma; Kate was a venerable 12 year--old, who taught Aesop to keep his distance. Aesop's solution was not to bite back but to run upstairs and settle on a couch to look out of the window. With her baby legs she was unable to follow him on the daunting staircase. Aesop solved the problem in a pacific manner.

In time, Emma lost those teeth, matured and within a year brother and sister settled down together and lived harmoniously..

When Aesop died at the end of September (2009), after suffering digital melanoma requiring amputation of a digit and lymphoma, which manifested itself in his mouth, it was evident that Emma was profoundly affected. She looked for him, marked territory, and showed signs of fear. Though Aesop was pacific, nevertheless he was Emma's buffer to the world: he led the way and Emma followed. He signaled to her that it was safe to proceed or indicated that danger or discomfort was imminent. The wonderful Dr. Howard Gittelman of New City, New York, and his staff at Animal Medical Center, cared for him through all his sufferings. And when finally it was time to let go, Aesop was treated with consummate skill, care, empathy, and sympathy.

Now Emma is in a dire condition. In addition to diabetes, which requires insulin injections twice daily --which Harold administers with love and exactness--she also has liver cancer (a common disease that Scotties contract) and bladder cancer (also common among Scottish Terriers). It is the latter which will cause her death. As the cancer grows in the bladder, it fills up the cavity, eventually making it impossible to urinate. Opportunistic infections proliferate in this environment.

Emma has withstood these onslaughts. Many months ago, someone said that she had at best only 3 months to live. But that prediction proved incorrect. She still enjoys her food, her COOKIES, walks and even play. But we know that we cannot stave off the diseases that are killers. May these final days be borne with the knowledge that we gave her the best that we could and that we will know when the final parting has come. My she live live on in a mythical doggy heaven, playing with Kate and Fala, and Aesop, all family, and do forever the things that dogs enjoy best and may we from time to time visit them in their paradise.

The first picture shows Emma, posing for her birthday portrait today; next a picture of doggy heaven, and the third, a corner in the dinning room which she favors at present: nature indoors, hidden but she can still see us and we her, and also a view to the garden. How much she actually sees is uncertain. Diabetes has taken its toll. her left eye probably allows her only to see dark and light, the right perhaps somewhat more.

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