Friday, March 4, 2011

Goodbye My Dear Friends

Tiki Dance and Bumba
Bumba and Tiki Dance enjoying the sofa

I have not been cooking lately.  In fact, I haven’t been doing much of anything these days.  I do not want to be creative; I can barely get out of bed.  My purpose for getting out of bed is gone.  My family, devastated.  On the 18th of February, I lost two of my best friends in the world, Tiki Dance and Bumba.  I am having a hard time coping these days, which is why there haven’t been updates or new recipes on my blog.  I miss my friends, and I can’t seem to move forward without them. 
     Bumba was a very special dog for us.  When we decided to buy the house we are living in now, the first thing I wanted to do was adopt an old dog from a dog pound.  I found Bumba online through Ulmino, and she seemed perfect.  She was about 13-14 yrs old and had been in a concrete cell for 12 years at the kennel of Rieti, one of the worst and most hopeless dog pounds in the Rome area.  I honestly have no idea how she survived.  At one time this kennel was sequestered because it broke welfare laws and all common decency.  Dog were left exposed to die, to live with dog corpses,  feces, waste and to brave the elements.  Bumba survived this.  We drove up to Rieti on May 1st of 2010 and took her out of the hell.  And what a gift she was!  Bumba was one of the most spirited souls I have ever known.  She survived hell, and then, within two days of having a home,  it was as if that life never existed for her.  She lived in the now and forgave us.  She was a hurricane, vivacious, loving and patient.  We got only 9 months with her.  And every day of those nine months was a complete joy of life.  When we would take her on walks she galloped as if she were the wind, as if she had channeled Zephyr himself.  She smiled, integrated with our other boys and was friendly with the cats.  I remember when I first saw her photo online.  It was her in a cage, there was shit all over the place, and yet, she was smiling.  That is Bumba.   Bumba, hurricane and life lover.  She was force to be reckoned with.  Whenever we tried to tell her, “no,” her attitude was, “I don’t think so, lady.”  We didn’t want her in bed at first.  She would get in bed and we would try to kick her out.  She would hold fast and not budge until we finally settled for the two inch corner she left for us.  If she wanted something, she took it.  She was a fighter, but also lover.  She was the soul mate of Tiki Dance.
     At the beginning of February, I took all the dogs on a walk around the vineyards.  It was sunny, and Bumba was running like the wind as usual.  When we got home, Ettore and I noticed that she had difficulty breathing, the vet advised us to bring her in.  She never came back.  She developed edema of the heart and lungs and fought for 8 days.  We visited her every day, and she was warm and happy to see us, but her tenacity was no longer there.   Unfortunately she developed lung cancer due to exposure to asbestos in the dog pound.  Apparently very common in dog pounds in Italy.  During those 8 days we still lived our normal lives with our other 3 dogs, Tiki Dance, Chardonnay, and Benny Boo Boo.  Out home felt empty without her, but I think especially for Tiki. 
     Tiki Dance was a very special Yorkshire Terrier we adopted 2 years ago from a horrible situation.  He lived his entire life in a mechanic's garage, was found wandering the Appian Way, “rescued” by a girl who threw him outside on a balcony to brave the elements and to live in his own feces and to live alone.      When we went to take him, he came down the stairs, into the living room and did a tiki dance.  It was love at first site for Ettore.  We took him home, got him groomed, as he was full of dreads and conjunctivitis, and eventually he became the prince of the bed.  Talk about a couch potato!  Tiki Dance lived to be next to us.  He was the sweetest and most vicious dog I have ever known.  He had two personalities, Tiki, the mean growling one and Dance the sweet couch potato that occasionally allowed us to rub his belly.  He had a lot of psychological problems and trust issues.  He wasn’t like any dog I have ever known, he was my brother.  We never treated him like a child.  He was our companion, and sadly, he was just so old when we got him. 
When we brought Bumba home, Tiki Dance fell in love.  Anywhere Bumba went Tiki Dance was by her side.  And being the patient lady that she was, she tolerated him, and I think loved him as well.  It was a glory to see two previously abandoned, neglected and abused souls bond like that. 
     5 days after Bumba went to the hospital, Tiki Dance also started breathing badly.  So, of course, we rushed him to the vet.  At first they thought that he had been poisoned, but his heart valve was destroyed.  He had treatment for one day to ease the pain, and we brought him home on Thursday the 17th.  He had the worst case of panting I had heard.  I guess I was in denial, I thought he was just sick with a cold or something but he was suffocating.  He came home after the last check with the vet who discovered he had spots all over his lungs, lung cancer.  He came home, we all went to bed and I held him all night.  At 7am, Ettore woke up, and so held him on his chest and Tiki Dance took his last breath at home, not alone, not in a clinic, but with his truest friend, Ettore. 
     The loss of Tiki Dance was shocking, and honestly, I do not understand how the world did not stop with him.  I am having a hard time going outside and seeing that the world goes on, life goes on, but not for us.  Tiki Dance was part of my being.  He wasn’t a pet, but a dear and beloved friend, and I was lucky to get at least 2 years with him. 
     We buried Tiki by 10am, and I had a very strong desire and urge to get over to the vet at once to see Bumba.  She was calling to me, I knew, for some reason that I had to get there, right away.  So we went to the vet, I saw Bumba, I took her out for a small walk, and then we went back into the clinic to have her checked.  When I arrived, I could see she was waiting for me, she was so happy to see us, she wagged her tail, and gave me a soft kiss.  She was exhausted though.  When we took her in for the sonogram, she collapsed.  But before she did that, I called her name to calm her, held her head, she wagged her tail, looked into my eyes, and then the vets took her away to revive her, but she didn’t make it.  I know she was waiting for us to say goodbye.  She fought a good fight, but in the end, the canile lagher won.  However, she had NINE glorious months of happiness, love, family, and freedom.  She changed my life.  Both of them did.  And I can’t believe that within 4 hours I lost 2 members of my family. 
     We are grieving.   I want to hold Tiki again.  I need to know if he was happy, if he knew how much we loved him, that we lived for him, and that without him our family is incomplete.  Tiki Dance and Bumba are buried side by side.  Both of them taught me so much about how to live.  I don’t know any people who have had to endure what they both did, and yet, they survived, lived and lived well when they were finally able to.  I wish I could have a few more minutes with each of them.   I wish Bumba could come home and take over my entire bed.  I want to hear Tiki growl and sneeze because he is desperate for caresses.  I want to enjoy all the idiosyncrasies that made each of them unique, but they are gone, and I cannot cope.  I am not hysterical anymore, I am not in denial, and I know that they are not suffering, but only I am.  I am suffering because I deeply miss them and their friendship and the lessons learned. 
Tiki Dance
     Tiki Dance, rescue boy, thank you so much for being in my life and loving me and Ettore.  You are the brightest star I have ever known.  You were the sunshine in our lives.  You will always be the most unique once in a lifetime friendship and most cherished being I have ever known.  Each day without you seems like an eternity, I think about what I am doing and whether you would enjoy it.  I miss you, I just plain miss you, and I hope that whatever there is on the flip side it is a place of comfort and joy.  Please know that you were loved beyond measure.  Thank you for all of your nuisances, your personality, the lack of fear, your resolve, and your unabashed desire for love.  You took life by the horns, my friend.  I love you so much. 
     Bumba, my hurricane, my tornado.  You are missed and loved, and as much as I know your last 9 months were good, I need for you to know that I have never experienced the pure joy of living until I met you.  I always called you my Buddha, because you released yourself from suffering, you taught the power to forgive, to let go, and to be a warrior in life.  Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. 

Tiki Dance and Bumba loved in life and left this world together.  RIP my friends.  You are forever close in our hearts. 
I can't emphasize enough the importance of adopting old dogs like Bumba and Tiki Dance.  The time together may be limited, but it is the most rewarding.  Please open your heart and home to an old dog, they deserve their last few months or years with a family.