This is a post I hoped I would never have to write.
Long-time readers will remember Ashley, our beloved Bangkok street dog, whom we adopted in 2009.
About two weeks ago, on March 7, Ashley died after a brief illness.
Above is a photo from the day we adopted her from an organization that rescued “soi dogs,” as they’re called, in Bangkok.
It’s one of our favorite images of Ashley, since it was such a happy day for us — and because we joke that Ashley looks like she’s laughing in the photo, having tricked her way into a “forever home” as a year-old dog at a time when other owners were snapping up much younger, often cuter puppies from the organzation that saved her.
Here’s a recent pic of her, from before she got sick.
A and I are still trying to process the news and live with the reality of coming home to an empty house, no longer taking walks with her, and living without her constant companionship on the couch, in the den, in the kitchen and nearly everywhere in between.
She was by our side in Bangkok for five years, then with us in Singapore for two and a half years, and then here in Delhi with us since we moved here last summer.
We adopted her when she was about a year old, and she would have turned nine this August.
Ashley was no longer a puppy, of course, and she had started to slow down ever so slightly in recent months. While she had some health issues before we adopted her, she was a pretty robust dog, and we expected to have much more time with her. And that’s part of what makes saying goodbye so difficult.
She loved our house here in New Delhi, with our small yard and its many sights and sounds: birds to eye, squirrels to chase, fellow street dogs to romp with, cats to pester.
Ash developed a cough a month or so back, and a subsequent ultrasound revealed a large mass in her abdomen that we later learned was cancerous.
She underwent surgery not long afterwards, and the mass was removed, but she never rebounded fully, and she succumbed to multi-organ failure just a few days later. Fortunately we were with her during her final days and hours, patting her head, stroking her back, and just keeping her company.
She was so weak in her final days that she had to be carried everywhere, yet her puppy-like enthusiasm remained; just an hour before she died, even though she could barely sit up on her own, I took her leash down from a coat rack near the door and she wagged her tail vigorously, looking up at me with her big black eyes.
When she passed away, we had her cremated here in Delhi, and the very sympathetic workers at the facility gave us her ashes in a lovely urn. Now it sits, with her collar and a painting of her A gave me as a gift years ago, on our mantle. (See the photo at the bottom of this post.)
Rather than dwell on her sickness — really just a week or two of the nearly nine years she lived — we have been trying to focus on all the fun we had with her.
Here, to have them all in one place, are a bunch of my favorite photos of her. I’ve posted some of these before, but others are new.
As a puppy, before we adopted her
She was in really rough shape
But was soon…
…On her way to health
How she looked when we adopted her
On the way home, day one
Taking a nap at home in Bangkok, not long after we adopted her
A happy, high energy pup
A favorite past time: hanging out on the balcony.
At the beach in Thailand
One funny thing: she liked the beach but hated getting near any kind of water
Sand on the nose
At home in Singapore
On one of many long walks we took in the city-state
On the couch and in my face, likely because I was eating a snack
On a jaunt in Singapore
At Singapore’s Bishan Park
“Can I please have some of that lamb you’re cooking?”
If her morning walk was ever delayed, you might open your eyes to see this, with her unruly ear fur — tendrils, we called them — blowing in the air conditioning
At home in Singapore
On our balcony here in New Delhi
On the bed
After her surgery, wearing a T-shirt to protect the stitches
I really, really loved that little ball of fur.