By: Suzanne Fluhr
This is my tribute to Phoenix…
I have been dreading the news ever since I virtually met Mike and Phoenix. (Actually, they found me via another blog where I had left a comment.) According to Mike, I helped inspire him to take “Past My Curfew” to the next level and to join the blogosphere in earnest. Not surprisingly, once he knew where to look, he quickly amassed a group of dedicated fans many of whom, as far as I can tell, like me, became friends.
For me, and many others, Mike quickly became “Mike and Phoenix” because their intense inter-species relationship was full of such understanding, caring and fun. When Phoenix was diagnosed with mast cell cancer earlier this year, I worried every day about them. As much as I love our dog, I don’t know if I could have taken the journey Mike took with Phoenix, leaving no stone unturned, sparing no expense and patiently caring for him while he recovered from five massive surgeries. (I just went back and re-read Phoenix’s moving account of that journey.) I never expected to see the good news in early June that testing showed Phoenix to be cancer free.
It occurred to me that there must have been some divine intervention for Phoenix to have made it through that ordeal. Recently, Mike posted a video of him and Phoenix getting ready for the ALS ice water dousing challenge. In the short video, Phoenix sits patiently by Mike’s side until the second before the ice water descends at which point he bounds out of the picture, leaving only Mike to get soaked. Both of them looked fine and I was pleasantly surprised to see the alacrity and grace with which Phoenix had the good canine sense to take off.
This is why I was simply stunned to receive a call from Mike the next day in which he imparted the incredibly sad news that Phoenix had passed away that morning, the cancer having returned with a vengeance. Mike was devastated. How could he be anything but. Mike told me he wasn’t ready to share this news with his on-line community. I know there are many people who knew and loved Phoenix and care about Mike in and around Reno and I’m sure they have rallied around Mike as he copes with his tremendous loss. However, I also know that, like me, Mike and Phoenix’s virtual friends would want to know this sad news and to express our condolences.
Yesterday, a post showed up in my Facebook feed that I needed to see. Along with everyone else, I usually curse the Facebook algorithms that seem to invade our privacy, but I am very glad that this poem by an unknown author found its way to me. I know that Phoenix’s soul will be with Mike always and I hope that the pain of his loss will lessen enough for Mike to be able to find joy and comfort in his memories of his Lionhearted friend. I dedicate this to Phoenix and Mike:
A Loan From God
God promised at the birth of time,
A special friend to give,
His time on earth is short, he said,
So love him while he lives.
It may be six or seven years,
Or twelve or then sixteen,
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care of him for me?
A wagging tail and cold wet nose,
And silken velvet ears,
A heart as big as all outdoors,
To love you through the years.
His puppy ways will gladden you,
And antics bring a smile,
As guardian or friend he will,
Be loyal all the while.
He’ll bring his charms to grace your life,
And though his stay be brief,
When he’s gone the memories,
Are solace for your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return,
But lessons only a dog can teach,
I want you each to learn.
Whatever love you give to him,
Returns in triple measure,
Follow his lead and gain a life,
Brim full of simple pleasure.
Enjoy each day as it comes,
Allow your heart to guide,
Be loyal and steadfast in love,
As the dog there by your side.
Now will you give him all your love,
Nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call,
To take him back again?
I fancy each of us would say,
“Dear Lord, thy will be done,
For all the joy this dog shall bring,
The risk of grief we’ll run.
“We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
We’ll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known,
Forever grateful stay.
“But shall the angels call for him,
Much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And try to understand.”