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Monday, October 18, 2010

First Alert Xena Retires after Nearly 14 Years of Loyal Canine Service

by Carrie Boyko, C.E.B.
(c) Carrie Boyko
Xena's Last Photo
After many a long day of writing, with Xena at my feet, she and I would sometimes take time for a cat nap. Patches often joined us, just as we used to do when I had a migraine headache. As I dozed in and out, I would be vaguely aware of Xena's soothing snoring--a cute, soft sound that I have always found endearing.

The time for Xena to rest eternally came yesterday. There will be no more snoring, no more sock frolics, no more happy Xena greetings at the door. She is now resting peacefully, and I am glad of that only because the pain had begun for her. This is the one thing I could not bear for her to experience; I always promised her that I would not let her suffer. 

With Xena gone I will cry, mourn, remember and sob enough for 10 dogs, I am sure.  But afterwards two things came to me in another snuggle, this time with Tanner and Oliver joining me. 

Just recently when my father passed away, he did it exactly the same way as Xena. We went to sleep side by side--I in the fold out bed at hospice--while he snored like a chain saw in need of a good oiling. That oiling had been the best bath he had received in his two weeks of care at the hospital. His gruff, dominant nurse that I immediately took offense to, had encouraged me out of the room, assuring me that I would find him sleeping peacefully after her skillful and soothing bath.

Was she ever right! I returned to find my father swaddled like an infant, a sight that sent a shudder down my spine and at the same time made me feel warm and secure, just as he apparently did. When he awoke for pain medicine, it was the last time I was able to speak with him. He gave me a loving kiss, even as his lips did not quite pucker the way they used to. Then he slipped once again into a slumber that will last for an eternity.

Xena has now joined him in that place where all beloved family members go. It gives me a small amount of peace to think of them together, Dad rubbing her belly and head, while she wags her tail appreciatively. They will have each other to keep company with, even if only a fantasy of mine. I guess this is my way of dealing with a painful situation. Losing two treasured family members in a few short months is more than anyone should have to bear. But both went peacefully to sleep, ceasing their signature snoring to signal their permanent retirement.

I will miss you my sweet, loyal Xena. Thank you for giving me nearly 14 years of service as a weather alert dog. And thank you for keeping an eye on Dad. You two will make a good team.

Our whole family will always remember the day she came to live with us as if it were yesterday. The recollections of trips to the park, walks through the neighborhood, squirrel chases and tag games will never go away. These and many more will be the memories that will keep her alive in our hearts.

As Xena slipped into her permanent slumber I whispered to my sweet puppy, "Dad is a Packers fan; be sure to wear your green and yellow bandanna when you see him at the Rainbow Bridge." I must have imagined it, but I could swear I saw a slight nod of her head.
(c) Carrie Boyko
Xena at Age 2


Patti said...

I am so sorry Xena left you - losing a pet is one the most heart breaking life events. I'm sure your dad was waiting for her at the Bridge and I hope my Bandit was there too! I told him to take care of Xena :)

Elle said...

So sorry for your loss. This same thing happened to my mother a couple years ago (father passing, then her 15-year-old dog who she'd rescued off the street in a bad part of town). I wonder if the dogs really did go to keep "Grandpa" company. Dogs were always such a delight to my grandfather.
May peace and blessings be yours,
Lauressa (and Flash)

K9 Coach said...


I am so sorry and know the pain and the moments of joy you will remember are only yours to hold. I lost my 14 year old Spencer this summer.

He was the reason I became a professional dog trainer. There are dogs that are forever a part of us. Now... Xena is with your father and they are watching over you with much love and adoration.

Take care.

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Yup....and definitely watching the Packers games. Xena will have to become a fan along with my dad. Thanks everyone!

Anonymous said...

I found your blog at work...Oh,,,Xena!...I have watched you on and off for years...I have heard your "voice" down the street ..and I guess I will continue to for a long time to come...Missy , Nakita and I all cry..that you are gone... leader of the pack...and gentle soul soft to the touch with such bright twinkly eyes...We send our hugs and barks to you all...Noreen

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Thank you Noreen, Nakita and Missy for all your years of friendship. Tanner and Oliver will carry on Xena's guarding of the neighborhood. Hopefully we'll keep the bear away from your front door!

According to Gus said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Gus is our first dog, and I cannot even imagine the sadness in your heart. You are in our thoughs <3

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Thanks Gus and family. We are trying to stay busy with lots of dog park outings, swimming, biking and all manner of activities to keep our mind off the missing link at home. One paw in front of the other... said...

Hi Carrie:
I'm sorry that I'm so late with this post and I'm especially sorry for your loss of Xena and your dad. I know how painful it is to lose those we love so close together. It hurts and it hurts bad.

Your story was a beautiful one and brought many tears to my eyes. Xena was very beautiful and the pictures show just how happy she was with her loving family.

I have to believe that we will see our pets (family members) again one day. Besides being a coping mechanism, I truly believe it.

Janie :o)

Talking-Dogs said...

A beautiful tribute to both Xena and your dad. I am do sorry for your loss.

Melissa T. said...

That was very touching & made me search for the kleenex. I'm so sorry you lost your beloved Xena and your father. I do think it's great that you can tell us about it, especially since it hurts. Thank you for sharing that. Hopefully my little old man Rex is playing with Xena. :)

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

Rex is welcome to join Xena. Send me his pic and information and I'll add him to our Rainbow Bridge Memorial. Check the menu bar of the blog to see it.

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