When a dog has nine lives

When a dog has nine lives, there has to be one last one. And our Frances used all of hers up on Sunday. She came from Richmond, California and died in Richmond, Surrey, UK. Born on January 3, 2001, she graced our lives for nearly 11 years.

But let’s be honest. She earned her nine-lives stripes. Born to an abused and neglected dog, we plucked her from a craigslist ad when she was three months old. A lab mix, a rescue with a stunted tail and an outtie belly button/hernia. Our Frances. Named after a badger in one of our childhood books.

Frances' good side; taken in the spring.

We went through several vets throughout the Bay Area before she was diagnosed with a severe case of IBD at just 1.5 years old. Her doctor said he had never seen a case like hers at such a young age. A horrible disease. Consequently, she was a waif of a pup. Bone thin, starving most of the time. Couldn’t eat this or that. Picked on by other dogs in the neighborhood. But she turned out to be a real alpha, peeing higher on walls than any male dog in the neighborhood. And she carried her IBD badge with honor. Her life was saved or extended by budesinide. We had that stuff shipped from the US to England. Couldn’t live without it. And thanks to the parents for shipping it over.

For most of her life, she was on special diets, hand fed, given fresh food (hello whole chickens, potatoes, ground beef and turkey, weighed food). Heck, we even got her a sibling to get her competitive eating juices going (thanks, Mickey). Then came pancreatitis. Five days at the vet. Another painful time in her life and another new, diet.

And then, a year ago, after six months of paperwork and stateside quarantine and one week before she got on a British Airways plane to England, Frances was diagnosed with one of three things. Her head had pretty much caved in on one side of her skull in less than a week and before we put her through the stress of the trip, we wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing. Without doing any invasive medical tests or MRIs (our request), the vet diagnosed atrophy of the temporal muscle due to trauma, another autoimmune problem, or a malignant or non-malignant tumor. Because she wasn’t exhibiting many signs yet, they said she had three to 18 months to live.

And live she did. For 12 more months. Weekly walks to Richmond Green, Ravenscourt Park, Old Deer Park, Richmond Park with her little dachshund brother, Oliver. And snow. Boy, did she enjoy the snow drifts in her own yard.

But 12 months later, blind in one eye, unable to drink water properly, her legs going one by one, bumping into things, becoming unbalanced, and oh, the painful head. The spark faded. Quickly and in front of our eyes.

Frances leaves a legacy. She was the second and longest serving dog of Piedmont Stationers – greeting customers and blocking their way in front of the counter or on the sidewalk. She accompanied Shelly to work every day, because that was her job, her life. When the store closed, Frances had to retire, very reluctantly. Because of her, we went through more paper towels and white vinegar than a 7-11 (IBD = lots of throwing up). A superb travel dog, she made her way up and down Highway 5 to Los Angeles and back. Loved the pee spot at Anderson’s Pea soup. Got to see Utah and Tahoe, and places in between. She got herself stuck in the loft of a cabin and took a ride down a ladder in a duffel bag to freedom.

And Frances was smart. Very smart. Listened. Trusted. Obeyed. And loved us back unconditionally. We let her go with dignity. Before her condition took too much of her soul. She will be missed. Oh, so very missed.

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  1. #1 by Eileen Cohen on November 9, 2011 - 5:50 pm

    Dear Kathy, I am sad to learn that Frances has passed. How fortunate she was to have you and Shelly to cherish and care for her. As you might remember, I was privileged to make friends with her when she was your new pup (and gave her that big heavy toy that you probably never forgave me for).

    Got here after getting a notification that you and Jenni Aloi had connected on Linkedin. The years do fly by, eh? Hope you are thriving in the UK.

    All the best,
    Eileen

    • #2 by kathybad on November 11, 2011 - 4:22 pm

      Of course I remember you. And that heavy toy, yep. She played with it a bit way back when. It didn’t make the trip to the UK. ; )

  2. #3 by alyshanaples on December 29, 2011 - 6:23 am

    This is a lovely tribute, Kbad. Frances had nine very good lives.

  1. A year in London « Kathy Badertscher

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