DiDee was born on July 29, 1981, the day that Charles, Prince of Wales, married Lady Diana Spencer...hence the name. She was a purebred Miniature Schnauzer, the runt of a litter born from the union of Fraulein Kadoodlehoffer and Mister Poo. Fragile at birth and unable to fight for a suckling spot, DiDee was hand-fed to ensure survival. She expected...and received...similar "royal" treatment for the rest of her life. A gentle-natured and good-tempered dog, DiDee was both affectionate and independent, yapping at everything...and often, yapping at nothing at all. Those who have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with a Miniature Schnauzer will know exactly what I mean.
In her later years, DiDee was afflicted with some degree of deafness. It was rather a blessing since thunder (and similar noises like the sound of firecrackers) had been a source of great unease to her since early in life and she would constantly search for sanctuary during a storm...or on the Fourth of July...or New Year's Eve. Nothing and nobody could comfort her at such times. However, with the deafness came a blissful oblivion to the forces of nature and pyrotechnics. She no longer quivered and quaked when the thunder rolled or when the shouts of "Happy New Year" were accompanied by sharp and sudden explosions.
We were fortunate to have DiDee with us for almost fifteen years. She was put to sleep and went to Rainbow Bridge on December 26, 1995, after going into liver failure. There, I am sure, she was greeted by her grandmother Toots (whom she resembled so strongly) and her grandfather Herr Grunt (whose "grunting" while he ate, DiDee inherited). Thankfully, her time of suffering was short-lived...up until a few days prior to her death, she displayed no signs of illness and, in fact, seldom suffered from any ailments during her lifetime. DiDee was spoiled and pampered and dearly loved. She expected such and she received such "in spades," as the saying goes. In return, she lavished those who loved her with overwhelming affection. She was a clown and a protector...a small dog with a huge heart and inspiring spirit.
DiDee's last Christmas was a trying time. It was obvious she was failing and we could only hope that she would make through the holidays. She did...not wanting us to remember future Christmas Eves or Christmas Days as the time we lost her. Thank you for giving us that one last Christmas to remember, DiDee. We will never forget...
What follows is my personal poetic tribute to DiDee.
It was first published in Volume 12, Issue 12, of "Seeker"
(an on-line magazine where I have the honor to be a resident columnist)
in December of 1996...one year after DiDee's passing.
This time last year, you were with us...laying in the big arm-chair;
But your eyes were dull and listless and your spirit wasn't there.
We whispered, "One more Christmas," and you granted the request,
As you always did each time we asked that you give of your best.
With the celebrations over, you made it very clear
That it would be selfish of us to insist that you stay here,
For your essence had departed, leaving just an empty shell,
And the body that remained desired to follow...we could tell.
So, we agonized and asked each other what we ought to do
Because we didn't want to face the fact that we were losing you;
But we really knew the answer...we would help you to the end.
Was the very least that we could do for such a faithful friend.
So, I wrapped you in a blanket, I scratched behind your ears.
I kissed your nose and tried, without success, to hide the tears.
With words of wistful consolation, I walked out of the door,
But I knew that I would never bring you back home any more.
You raised up only once, to sniff the air and look around.
I was hopeful, but you wearily then laid your head back down.
I murmured, "I'm so sorry" and you seemed to understand
For when I turned the final corner and reached out, you licked my hand.
Halfway home, I touched your collar on the blanket next to me
And I like to think that was the moment of tranquility.
Between the grey December clouds appeared a tiny rift of blue
And I wondered if it opened so that you could scamper through.
This time last year, you were with us...and you left a vacant space;
Though we have a new addition, she by no means takes your place.
She is full of bounce and vigor with a streak of mischief too
And in many ways, she does remind us very much of you.
But she isn't a replacement and that isn't why she came,
Though she's equally as priceless and we took her in your name.
In a sense, she is a tribute to your memory.
One small "Thank-You" in return for years of love and loyalty.
This time last year, you were with us...seems like only yesterday
And it's funny all those little tricks a mind can often play.
Like when I'm confident you're standing at the far end of the hall
And just know that you'll come to me if I simply give the call.
In daydreams, when I think about you, there's an image instantly
Of a sturdy little puppy, full of life and energy.
I am sure that your new backyard has lots of room to run
And a soft lap where you go to sleep when all the chasing's done.
This time last year, you were with us...as we trim the Christmas tree,
We will picture you, under our feet, tail wagging eagerly
And take comfort in the knowledge that we're never far apart
For you'll live forever in a special corner of the heart.
We can no longer see or touch you, but we love you none the less
And we'll always have those precious recollections we possess;
Now and then, we'll catch your shadow...barely hiding out sight;
Keen expression, crouching playfully, with brown eyes sharp and bright.
We still miss you, but instead of letting thoughts of you be sad,
We will concentrate on all the long and happy years we had.
So, we'll smile in sweet remembrance, but then how could we forget
That this time last year, you were with us? Cherished memory...not regret.