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Frames of Time...

001_06 - My Lucky Star
Originally a "bark" for September 6, 2006

We lost Star today, and it seems as if my world has changed.

Rachel found Star on the internet and she flew into LAX where I picked her up on December 9th, 1999. On the drive home she was very unhappy in her crate. I let her out, hoping she would rest, but she was a "wild child" and made driving impossible. So she went back in her crate, where she cried the entire hour and a half drive home. I tried to pacify her with my singing, usually "You Are My Lucky Star" (best known from SINGIN' IN THE RAIN). At home she quickly became my little princess, as well as my pretty princess. (She loved being called "pretty".) Of all the kids, she was probably closest to me. Almost doting. She always knew when I was sad, or worried. She would come over to be with me and also look sad. At night, she often laid next to me to sleep. Many a night I would wake to find her standing over me looking down as if concerned about something. I was never sure which of us she was concerned about.

Her care for me was simply part of her motherly nature. In fact, she was the best mother. She took care of her pups, and husband Roku, with a love and patience every mother should have. She loved her kids, and always loved seeing them at family reunions. She also loved disciplining them. She even disciplined other youngsters at shows and parks. She was a mother to be respected, and almost all the young ones who met her did. She loved her husband, Roku, as much. Few expecting bitches would allow their mate to lay with them up to delivery, and to hang around during and after the pups' arrival... but Star did. To her family was very important.

When we lost Roku after last Christmas, it hit her hard. She was obviously saddened for weeks. Luckily we had a new litter in the house, from her son Eagle, that she could work with. Both Rooster and Kele adored grandma and loved to play with her. They also respected her. Then came Jet, the minimutt. He made her a pup again. Many a time this 13 pound wonder would chase her and Eagle around the deck as if he were 20 times his size. She loved to bark at him so that he would give chase. Then in the summer, we lost Nikoma, our Akita. This also hit her hard. Even though they had not played much lately (due to Nikoma's age), his departure made her the elder of the family. Now, she was the oldest canine in the house. Even though her age was making her a bit slower, and tire more easily, she still maintained control of the house as much as possible. Frequently scolding the grandkids for getting noisy or rowdy. Since it was often just verbal scolding, the grandkids sadly had begun to ignore her a bit.

The circumstances of her death were a collection of odd events, clues, worry, hopes and a sudden shock. It was the kind of shock that happens when you hear about someone who died in a crash. You feel sorrow, but also a numbness... almost a disbelief. She left the house this morning for what was expected to be fairly simple surgery. In fact, it was cancelled right before breakfast, then reinstated just as she was about to eat. Once on the operating table, it was discovered that things were not what they had seemed only yesterday. Star was allowed to stay asleep. I had headed out for an appointment, only to find it had been cancelled and returned home to find Rachel in tears and hear the news. We, including Eagle, went to the vets to say our goodbyes. Rachel and I then took her to the crematorium.

As the day has progressed, I have swung back and forth from shock to grief. In some ways, the sudden end was good. It kept her from serious pain, and from those final days when everyone is so sad around the house. That would have made her sad, too. But then it also didn't allow a "final" farewell. She was here. And then she was gone. Luckily the last few weeks had been fun for her. She got to go to the Olympets, and won a silver medal in the shot put. She loved to win things. She was always proud of a bowl she won in a puppy match. I use the bowl for my wallet, keys and chain. Showing it to her always made her smile. She got to go to the lake and play in the water. She loved to play. She got cheesecake for her birthday. It was different from our standard angel food cake. She loved it. She had some Outback steak, another treat. And she even had some venison, perhaps her favorite meat. Star just loved to eat. Over the weekend we pulled out home movies of her first litter and she watched the tv with glee, barking whenever it looked like the pups were going the wrong way. She loved watching TV, even my Charlie Chan movies. As a pup she would occasionally sing along with BLUES CLUES.

But the final weeks were not all good. She had been having some digestion issues, which might just have been age. She had just turned 7. She was also having heat flashes. Again, possibly a sign of age. It was over the weekend that additional symptoms suddenly arose along with the discovery of a "lump". An xray showed the lump to most likely be a "calcified fetus" from her last, sad, pregnancy. But once opened, it was found to be cancer... and totally devasting. We were shocked... but she probably was not. Early in the morning, we noticed she was taking momemts to stare upward and listen. Rachel even joked for her not to listen "too much". We have seen such actions in almost all our kids prior to their exit. As if those that have left before were calling them, welcoming them to their new world.

Now she has joined her beloved Roku, nanny Nikoma, the constant baby Baron, several of her pups and various family members - canine and feline. As mentioned, this has changed my world. Maybe it is because she is the first one I got to see first. Maybe, because she was our first puppy girl. Maybe, because she was my little princess. Maybe it is because she was the last of our kids with a "voice" of their own. All the kids bark and make funny noises. But Star, like Roku, Baron, Nikoma, Bronx, Hoss, and even Reveille had actual voices that spoke to us. Or that we spoke for them. She "spoke" with a slight Aussie accent and we joked how she called me "daddy". When I would do or say something silly, she would reply "oh, daddy's being stupid... again." Now the house seems very silent. This was particularly noticable upon returning home without her. There was no princess to greet me and check how I was doing.

I recall a few years back a bunch of us were at Dog Beach in San Diego. Rachel, I, Star and several other pups and human friends. I was not feeling well that day, so I was often lagging behind the group. Every so often, Star's head would rise out of the playing canines, locate me, come over, nuzzle my leg and smile at me. It was her way of making sure I was okay. I will miss many things about my princess, but as selfish as it sounds, I will miss her caring about me most of all.

Still, I know she is with others who also need her care. And I know that like all the rest that have left us, she will be keeping an eye on me and the family down here. As I said, my world has changed... but my love for her has not. Star, you are now, and you will forever be, my pretty princess. Goodnight, honey.

text, photo and format John Cawley

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