…or, as my dad spelled it – Feebee.
Reminding me of a “Frisbee” – which Phoebe would never have bothered to fetch.
In August of 2006 I finally convinced Glenn that we should get a dog. This was a big deal since the boys and Glenn were all a little afraid of dogs (Gabe – 5, Andrew – 7). With a “yes” from Glenn and the fear that the “yes” could be revoked at any minute I set off with the boys and my mom to find the perfect dog. A family dog. After trips to multiple shelters and visiting with many dogs we landed at the Humane Society in Detroit: the headquarters for Animal Cops Detroit on Animal Planet.
We saw Phoebe’s sad face. No reaction. Perfect! That’s not scary at all!
We took her to the side yard. She wouldn’t look at us, come to us, or acknowledge us. Perfect! That’s not scary at all!
And she was ours. My mother thought I was crazy – she kept asking me, “Are you sure she’s the one?” “She doesn’t seem to be making a connection with you, do you think that’s ok?” My mom is very wise and these are the right things to think when adopting a pet, I’m sure. We’ve tried as a family to adopt and bring home scores of pets since – and they’ve all been relocated after short or long periods of time spent with us. Phoebe, however, rose above that wisdom and is the one pet that “stuck.” I brought her home and introduced her to Glenn.
She wasn’t much to look at right away. Her fur wasn’t fluffy, her belly was shaved for surgery allowing all to see proof she gave birth to at least one litter of pups – most likely more – which made some people uncomfortable to see, and she didn’t make eye contact or wag her tail. She was pretty pathetic. But she was ours.
Phoebe played with a toy on two occasions that I can remember over the course of the almost 8 years she lived with us. These occasions lasted all of about 45 seconds total. Phoebe didn’t chase a ball, catch a Frisbee, or chew on a Kong.
Phoebe just was. That meant:
- She followed me from room to room. I was her person. In the last few months this almost became an obsession.
- She wagged her tail, when she was younger, at the sound of her name or even just the sound of my voice.
- At Christmastime she liked to sleep under the Christmas tree.
- She stood in the kitchen, sometimes in the middle, and would stare at the cupboards for long periods of time. My brother Chris said recently, “If you ever needed to hire someone to watch paint dry Phoebe would be your girl.”
- As she grew to realize she was loved and that she could enjoy life she would occasionally do a happy dance when I came home from work: running in circles, and bounding around, with her front left paw almost “waving.”
- She loved to sunbathe in the backyard – until the last year or so when it was harder for her to relax outside.
- For years she would lie down and patiently let me groom her and even cut her toenails in the backyard. As she grew older she would stand still and quietly endure me lifting each paw to do the job.
- One of her few dog-like traits was to chase squirrels through the backyard like a bat out of hell in Michigan. The squirrels would haul through the grass, up the fence, and into the trees nearby where they would bark at her furiously.
- She tolerated other dogs – she did not interact with them. If they were well-behaved and left her alone she was willing to maintain an apathetic coexistence.
Andrew spontaneously made up and sang a not-so-nice song about Gabe years ago. There’s no way for you to know that we don’t talk like this about one another regularly. There’s no way to guarantee you know this was funny only because it a) came out of nowhere b) was sung with crazy sass and volume, and c) was sung so perfectly on key that we couldn’t help but laugh. I’m taking the risk you won’t be understand and I’m sharing the story anyway. One afternoon years ago Andrew belted out, “Gabe is so annoying! We all know that for sure! He thinks he’s really cool, but he’s really not cool at all. Yeahhhhh…” We tried to tell Andrew, “That’s not nice! Don’t say things like that!” but couldn’t do it through our laughter. Gabe had to laugh, too. When Phoebe would stand in the way while I was bringing in groceries or trying to do another job it became the song I’d cheerfully sing to her. “Phoebe’s so annoying! We all know that for sure! She thinks she’s really cool, but she’s really not cool at all. Yeahhhhh…” Her tail would wag.
About two years ago I mentioned to the vet that I thought her back toenails were scraping the pavement every now and then when we took walks. Neuropathy.
I’m grateful it took a long time for her to get to the point she was at last week. We took her to the vet on Wednesday night hoping for a “fix.” On Thursday we realized that things weren’t going to get better and took her back to the vet to say goodbye. She went peacefully.
I look for her face by the window in the kitchen where she would wait for one of us to let her in. I expect her to be standing outside the bathroom door when I come out (I told you she followed me everywhere). I look for her in the morning when I come out of my room.
She was a good dog. A sweet girl from the “D”. A wonderfully loyal pet. I will miss her.