Angel was put to sleep on November 13th in Sarasota, Florida - our winter residence. She was 15 years old. Angel was the inspiration for my book All I Know About Management I Learned From My Dog. She may not be here in person but she will be with us when our book is published in April 2011 by Skyhorse Press and distributed by W.W. Norton.
Angel was on center stage for the almost five years that she was with us. She taught us many important things but in the last four months, as she struggled with a growth on the brain, weakness in her back legs, and a failing liver, she kept going, generously giving of her love.
She was the force that drove the household. She walked as briskly and as often as we would take her, going as far as she could without a whimper. She loved to swim. And, as many of you have read, on October 2, just a little over a month ago, while we were in our house in Rye (which is located on the water) she disappeared in the late evening. She was out for her regular evening outing but slipped away while Paula was not looking, found her way in complete darkness down a 12-foot rocky embankment, and went swimming in Long Island sound. Paula, searching frantically with a flashlight, saw the sparkles on her collar and flew down the embankment, catching Angel just as she was paddling to get into the deeper water. Paula, shoeless, in her soggy nightgown, dragged Angel up to safety. Rather than being apologetic, Angel was frustrated and fretted at not being able to enjoy her midnight dip.
When we brought Angel to Sarasota, hopefully to spend the winter in a warmer climate, she was reunited with her friend Winnie - a one-year-old female small dog. Angel towered over Winnie, but when they met, Angel would chase after Winnie to show her affection, girl to girl. Angel had respect for males, including me, but she adored women, especially Paula. At the last hours of her life she sought me out for a treat, but cuddled up to Paula.
It was Angel that inspired me, as you will read in our book, to select “Perseverance” as the most important of the Four Golden Rules. She tried to keep going through her illness, despite the frailties of her body. She persevered with a passion. She walked to strengthen the back legs, took the medicines to get well. Her love never diminished, even when she was in pain. She played with her tiny friend Winnie as though she were a puppy. When the time came to go, she sat quietly in the back seat of the car on our way to the vet. When we took her into the room from which she would not return, she went gently, quietly seeking us out for a last pat on her golden coat. When the vet asked her to lie down for the injection, she obeyed with the signal dignity of a lady. As the injection went into her veins, she closed her eyes, accepted the relief from pain and passed on without a murmur to join the other Angels.
In death, as in life, Angel is an inspiration. Maybe Rule Five should be “Make Certain You Make Every Minute Count”, treasure the short time we have together, make certain that we use this time to learn, lead, love what we do, and when the time is right, leave in dignity.