CAROLINA – c.1987 – 2004

To you my friends, I need to tell you that my dear canine companion and friend of 13 1/2 years, Carolina, had to be “put down” on Friday, December 10, 2004. She was nearly 17 years old.

Over the past months, her kidney/liver failure had increasingly made her uncomfortable and increasingly loose control of her body and her sense of dignity. Though agonizing to do, I decided to put her down twice earlier this year while she was experiencing some severe physical setbacks. Yet, each time, she seemed to truly know what was about to occur, and both times “miraculously” rallied all her energies and was “back to normal” … normal as a 17 year old dog could be — slow in moving, problems with back legs; but engaged in play and with her more recently adapted Shitzu “sister,” – “Star.” Much to my joy and surprise, Carolina’s will to live gave us almost an additional year together. Yet, when I came home from work on Thursday night, it was completely clear that waiting even a day or two or three more would have doomed her to a cruel death. There was no uncertainty about what needed to be done. I was comforting her throughout the night and she was comforted by Liva’ Snaps and my holding her and petting and talking to her until the final moment.

I’ve been blessed so many times over the nearly 14 years that we discovered one another.. I was traveling back to New York from Miami – July 4, 1991. That I decided at the very last minute to change my itinerary from taking express Interstate 95 and chose to take Rural Route 1 through South Carolina is part of the mystery — and the miracle — of our meeting. Making that decision took me at least 400 miles out of the way and added an extra day to the time to get home — and it lead me to her. I’m convinced it was because of her that I came to her that hot July 4th day.

Carolina was a beautiful dog. When she was younger she had long, shiny, silky black hair, a white “bib” that ran from under her lower jaw to the bottom of her belly. Her long ears would stand straight out from her head when a gust of wind came and thus, earned her one of her many nicknames “Sister Betrille.” Sally Fields would have agreed. Yet, it was her lovely face and her large soulful eyes that were the clincher. Her eyes were sparkling, optimistic and often humble or longing — so beautifully expressive.

As my friend Carrie once said, Carolina was “a subtle dog.” She was incredibly sweet and affectionate, but not in an “in your face” way. She had a sense of propriety. She was a very noble and also a humble dog and she was trusting to an occasional fault. A very respectful being. Her joy in meeting new people and making friends with dogs was constant – but she knew when to draw the line.. She particularly loved meeting the most large, macho dogs. Even as an old dog, she did a sprightly and flirtatious “chase” dance around the happy German shepherd or pit bull — the ol’ girl still “had it in her.”

Up until about 6 years ago, she was astonishingly sure-footed – being able to run up and down a hill in a split and hop over logs and underbrush like a rabbit in pursuit of a squirrel or a rabbit. She would literally run circles around the other dogs we’d meet nightly at the large baseball field near the park. She was a dachshund/Spaniel mix after all …. made for being outdoors, foraging, exploring, hunting – but likewise incredibly patient and gentle. I was in disbelief the first time I saw her bury a milk bone treat in the Inwood forest… only to unearth it three months later! It was her loss of physical prowess that was the most difficult thing for her to come to terms with in her old age – particularly the last two months.

I was severly injured – hit by a car in 1993 and left for dead, I was walking Carolina, and Billy (a 14 year old hound I rescued several months earlier). Both were unharmed. Yet, I was having last rights read over me. Yet, I came to .. and asked “are my dogs alive” I learned from eye witnesses, that Carolina was by my side – shivering in the streets right next to me – licking me the entire time.. Were it not for her, I would not be alive today – truly – my concern for her

Carolina’s devotion to me was never failing. She was one of the most stabilizing forces in these most significant last 14 years of my life. I cannot begin to fathom what my life would have been without her strong presence and unwavering, gentle and gracious love

Jonathan from NY