Dervish 2001 - 2010

“If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” -- Will Rogers

“If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.” -- James Thurber

“Sometimes he sits at your feet looking into your face with an expression so gentle and caressing that the depth of his gaze startles you. You can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes!” -- Theophile Gautier

At roughly 10 am we said good-bye to our dear companion Dervish.

People often gave us quizzical looks when asked about his name. Fortunately, this was something that we were used to. We have named our dogs based on characteristics that they displayed as puppies. Our first dog, Kai-Long, was named after the King of the Dragons because of his habit of snaking between people’s legs like an Oriental dragon.

Dervish -- (n) a member of a religious organization who expresses his beliefs through rituals featuring whirling and howling.

Have a pretty good picture of Dervish as a puppy now?

The day before Thanksgiving he stopped eating and became very listless. We noticed a hard mass in his abdomen which grew rapidly. A trip to the vet confirmed the worst, his lack of energy was due to an incredibly low blood count. X-rays and lab work indicated that the distended abdomen was most likely due to a cancerous growth on his spleen. Other blood work suggested that his liver and kidneys had also been affected.

One of the benefits of having a double lot across the street from a park (other than having a lot of room for running around) is the huge number of trees available. As far as Dervish was concerned, all of those trees were his. That meant he could do whatever he wanted to with them including tear them apart. He had a thing about branches. While he would, on occasion, actually play fetch with them, he was far happier when he was systematically destroying them. he would hold them between his front paws or prop them in the ground and then chomp off pieces until they were reduced to wood chips.

I have a clear image of Dervish as a puppy of maybe 9 or 10 weeks running towards me on his stubby puppy legs, his ‘he’ll grow into them’ paws far too large for his tiny body, his tail whipping back and forth. In his jaws he carried/dragged a tree limb as big around as my forearm and at least three times his length.

It was gone in a matter of minutes.

Making the decision to euthanize him was incredibly difficult. Due to the other problems he has been experiencing this year, his age, and a number of other factors his chances of surviving the surgery were not good. The recovery process would be difficult and the post surgical prognosis was poor.

We first met Dervish at the Find Your Best Friend at the Zoo event held each year at the Detroit Zoo. We were already familiar with him, however, for we had seen him on-line on Pet Finder. We were going to go down to the West Warren Veterinary Hospital, but when we found out that they puppies would be at the Zoo we decided to wait. There are a lot of animals available for adoption each year, but we zeroed in on Dervish pretty quickly.

Dervish and his litter-mates were born at West Warren and lived in one of the exam rooms for the first weeks of their life. We decided that it only made sense to take him there for all of his check-ups. He viewed the clinic as one of his homes. He was never afraid or hesitant when we pulled up outside the building. Quite the opposite, in fact. He would rush through the front door and would often try to jump over the counter separating the waiting room from the examination area. Once back there he would peer into each room and try to run back into the boarding area to see who was around. He had to make sure he said hello to everyone working, most of whom remembered him as a tiny ball of fur.

Sugar, his birth mom, is a German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix who topped out around 50 pounds. Dervish was the runt of the litter. The original adoption listing estimated the puppies’ adult weights as 50 - 60 pounds. Dervish was close to that at his 6 month check up. He would be close to 100 pounds when fully grown.

I think that he had to be that big in order to hold all of the love and joy in his heart.

The deciding factor for us was that his quality of life before the illness was not the greatest. He averaged 3 or 4 good hours per day. The pain in his back legs limited his mobility and his activity level. He was always up for a walk, but by the end he would be limping even more than me.

Dervish loved a good walk, to pile toys at your feet until you got the hint, and to “help” open presents. It is going to be a difficult holiday season. We will miss him at night when R will have to warm her own feet. There will be terrible moments when we remember that he is no longer with us. Walking into the house and expecting to be greeted at the door. Sitting on the couch and patting my knee before I remember that no one will be coming.

The sight of his empty collar is heartbreaking.

Thanks to everyone who has already called or written to express their condolences. We appreciate your sympathy. We know that many of you will be feeling the loss as we are. Our hearts are with you. Although we certainly appreciate the sentiment behind cards and flowers and such, we encourage you to make a donation of money, food, supplies, and/or time to your local no-kill shelter or rescue organization instead.

Thank you to everyone who loved Dervish.

Know that he loved you too.

I know you are all familiar with the
Rainbow Bridge Poem. I would reprint it here, but I don’t think I can cry much more right now. Instead I will leave you with something from The Twilight Zone.

An old man and his dog were walking down this dirt road with fences on both sides, they came to a gate in the fence and looked in, it was nice - grassy, woody areas, just what a 'huntin' dog and man would like, but, it had a sign saying 'no trespassing' so they walked on.
They came to a beautiful gate with a person in white robes standing there. "Welcome to Heaven" he said. The old man was happy and started in with his dog following him.
The gatekeeper stopped him. "Dogs aren't allowed, I'm sorry but he can't come with you." "What kind of Heaven won't allow dogs? If He can't come in, then I will stay out with him. He's been my faithful companion all his life, I can't desert him now. " "Suit yourself, but I have to warn you, the Devil's on this road and he'll try to sweet talk you into his area, he'll promise you anything, but, the dog can't go there either. If you won't leave the dog, you'll spend Eternity on this road " So the old man and dog went on.
They came to a rundown fence with a gap in it, no gate, just a hole. Another old man was inside. "Scuse me Sir, my dog and I are getting mighty tired, mind if we come in and sit in the shade for awhile?" "Of course, there's some cold water under that tree over there. Make yourselves comfortable " "You're sure my dog can come in? The man down the road said dogs weren't allowed anywhere." "Would you come in if you had to leave the dog?" " No sir, that's why I didn't go to Heaven, he said the dog couldn't come in. We'll be spending Eternity on this road, and a glass of cold water and some shade would be mighty fine right about now. But, I won't come in if my buddy here can't come too, and that's final. "
The man smiled a big smile and said "Welcome to Heaven." "You mean this is Heaven? Dogs ARE allowed? How come that fellow down the road said they weren't?" "That was the Devil and he gets all the people who are willing to give up a life long companion for a comfortable place to stay. They soon find out their mistake, but, then it's too late. The dogs come here, the fickle people stay there. GOD wouldn't allow dogs to be banned from Heaven. After all, HE created them to be man's companions in life, why would he separate them in death?"

--Earl Hamner

The Creative Process of Writing

If you are in the Detroit area next weekend or the following weekend and you interested in how writers, well, write, plan on being at the Main Branch of the Detroit Library Sunday afternoon. A number of GLAHW members (including yours truly) will be describing how we do that thing that we do.

In one week we will be discussing the creative process (click the image above for a flier). The following week we will be discussing the ins and outs of publishing.

I would go into more detail, but I need to work on my portion of the presentation.