In Memorium

Harley’s Last Day

Filed under: Alissa — December 23, 2007 @ 11:50 am

It is with a very heavy heart that I am writing to tell you that Harley, my beloved dog of 17 1/2 years, passed away yesterday.  He lived a very long and happy life filled with many adventures.  We moved all across the country together from Austin to San Diego to Madison, WI to Seattle to Tulsa to Minneapolis and Harley took it all in stride, soaking it all in and making it his own.  All along the way, he made many dear friends and is considered by some to be the most famous dog in the world.  He had 9 lives surviving many health calamities which would have beaten many a softer dog.  But he was tough and he was agile and most of all he was loved by many.  I think perhaps the happiest day of his life was when he got to be a groomsmen in my friend, Megan’s, wedding.  We tried to put him to bed many times.  But he would have none of that.  He was never one to miss the party.  He enjoyed many a party in his Austin days and made many friends.  Perhaps his favorite among them was my roomate, Darrell who taught him to stand on his hind legs and spin around.  Every morning when I got up for school, Harley would scratch on Darrell’s door as he had a few more hours of sleeping in him.  Many years later, Darrell came to visit in Seattle and Harley remembered him right away.  Harley was also a member of a band of superheroes in Seattle called Team Millennium Moon headquartered in the Blue Lodge.  Even when we moved upstairs, Harley knew the way back to the Blue Lodge.  It was his favorite hang out.  Harley almost lost an eye in those days from a grooming mishap.  But my roomate, Heidi, and I kept a 24 hour vigil.  We would not let Harley jump or jostle his eye until it was healed.  And it DID heal.  It grew back fully and he was able to still see from it.  People still do not believe that story.  In his later years, Harley struggled with arthritis, but he didn’t let it get the best of him.  When I thought he was having trouble walking, I ordered a wheelchair for him to help him.  I put him in it only once or twice.  He HATED the wheelchair.  And suddenly, he was able to walk again.  Still, he couldn’t go for the long walks we went on in his youth.  But that didn’t stop us.  I got a Burley Bee for my bike and we went on long bike rides.  And a hip satchel for longer walks.  Harley loved the fresh air, and he loved to see the world.  Lately, as many of you know, I’ve been struggling with health problems.  Harley jumped on the bandwagon with me enjoying many healthy delicacies.  His favorites were zucchini and coconuts.  He could be asleep in the next room when we cracked them open.  But he would wake up as soon as he caught a wif and INSIST on having some of the bounty.  I really think his taste for healthy foods helped him to live a good quality of life.  Harley’s last animal companion was Casio Kitty of Third Ear studios (my boyfriend Tom’s cat).  They really didn’t like each other at first.  But they grew to like each other.  Actually, I think Harley always liked Casio but Casio maybe didn’t appreciate how he also liked her cat food.  Harley adapted to every new environment with ease, and was an excellent judge of character. Perhaps, his closest friend besides me was my father, Charles.  Harley and he were very close playing ball and hanging out in the sun on the porch.  Harley liked to sit in his lap and soak in the sunshine.  The last several months of his life we lived in a third floor apartment.  Harley needed a little help with the stairs, but he was a very proud dog and would not accept help from just anyone.  Very few people were granted this privilege (of being able to carry him).  My father, Tom, Dennis (my BFF), and I understood this about him, and we were given the special knock.  They say the maximum life expectancy for a shih tzu is 12-18 years.  Harley did well, and although he lived to a ripe old age, he left this world on his own terms.  To the very end, Harley would bark and wake ME up every morning to let me know it was time to get out and face the day.  Harley approached every day on this earth with that vigor.  I truly believe that Harley was happy until the very end.  Harley always hated the water.  Ever since he was a puppy.  Only 3 times in his life can I recall him being in it (other than for a bath – which he also hated).  I found him yesterday in the pond behind my parents house.  He had fallen in and drowned.  Something very out of character for him.  It gives me cause to wonder if this was his way of picking his moment.  Strangely, yesterday was a very warm day among a streak of very wintery weather.  It was almost as if the earthed opened up to make room for her friend.  We buried Harley near some pine trees behind my parents house.  His favorite place to run.  There are no words to express the empty feeling in my heart.  Harley and I were very close.  We had an almost psychic connection.  He was my best friend and only companion for this wonderful and crazy journey that has been my life since I left home.  He kept me in line, got me up in the morning, protected me, and comforted me when I cried.  I sometimes wonder if everyone in the world had a special bond like this with something or someone maybe the world we live in would be a different place.  I was very fortunate to have so many years of beautiful memories.  And I will cherish every second.  I loved Harley with my whole heart.  And I will love him always.