My dog Alice made New Mexico My Home
Updated: Sep 22, 2021
I lost my dog Alice today. If all the Miss Americas up in heaven decided to reincarnate together into one sentient being and come back to earth, it would have been as Alice.
Alice, who believed in world peace, and that everyone could be relied upon for a pet, a scratch, a snack and the inevitable "What a beautiful dog," was the epitome of kindness. Not a mean bone in her soul, Alice graced us with her presence for the last 5 years of her life.
Alice was a rags to riches story. She'd been born to Aussie royalty, bred by a renown breeder of championship dogs in Pennsylvania. Through a series of corkscrew turns, Alice ended up homeless for the majority of her life, wandering the streets of Albuquerque. When I picked her up in the Sandia Mountains, she was ready for a lifetime of beauty, friendship, love, and dogbeds in two cities. Alice was my frequent companion on the trails of New Mexico. She was that rare trail dog -one who listened, and looked to me for cues. A typical winter's day would be she and I bundling up in 25º weather, then hiking into the Sandia Foothills with light snow flurries. We'd hike an hour or so, then head into town to buy a sandwich from Jimmy John's (always tunafish). We'd drive back to the mountains and eat at a picnic table in the snow, saying hello to the other hearty dogs and owners passing by. Then I'd drop her off at home, feed her, and head out for a hot tub. We'd wrap up the evening at the Red Door Brewing Co, eating tacos, with Alice greeting each person who came in through the doors.
Other days, we'd go down to the ditches, and when it was warm, we'd sit on the banks of the Rio Grande. Alice made New Mexico my home.
She was at home in California as she was in New Mexico. Alice was legend and had doors to knock on with steady treats. She walked the hills and parks with Greg the dogwalker, staked out Starbucks looking for snacks, and went to the beaches with David, where she was dubbed, the Countess of Dog Beach.
We spent much of the pandemic in Fullerton and finally made it back to New Mexico a few weeks ago. She caught up quickly, befriending dogs and humans alike, when we discovered a local golf course that transforms into a dog park at dusk. Alice made many friends, patiently approaching them, head cocked to the left, smiling, and walking in slow. Inevitably, the payoff was a compliment. Later it would be noted that she was 'deeply loved." I'm glad someone noticed because Alice bloomed the last five years of her life, and no effort was too much, each gesture, whether it was from me or this huge team of friends she'd amassed, was a pleasure.
Her end came swiftly. Within hours of a collapse today, I found out she had Hemangio-Sarcoma, and preliminary tests indicated spots on her liver She had other problems -an enlarged gall bladder, and she lost the function of her back legs. It was clear she was dying. My mission when I got Alice was that I'd give her the best years of her life, but not prolong it. It's a sacred vow I take with each animal. We are both here to guide one another, through this journey of life.
So we, me, Kat, & Josh, honored her life by letting her pass. Looking back, I can see now that she'd been saying good bye now for weeks. She'd been a little slower, and all last night she wanted to know where I was, and carried on a long conversation with our cat, Panda. Perhaps, she was saying good bye to him. The two of them were best friends. All of this is deeply painful, and the fierceness of the onslaught of this medical catastrophe was so traumatic, each of us is processing it in our own way. I miss smothering her with kisses, and having her jump up to kiss me back. I miss scrunching her forehead and ears. I miss her barging into the bathroom, and hearing her pad from room to room. There is new loneliness when you lose a pet. I even miss her breathing.
Tomorrow the trail will be lonely, but in my heart, she will be with me. Our family is so honored to have called this great dog, our companion. Alice, 15 years old, Tri Color full size Australian Shepherd. The great beauty.
Photos from Left: Alice at home, Alice on the banks of the Rio Grande, Alice at the Red Door Brewing Company, Alice on the Golf Course last week, Alice at Dog Beach, and Alice in the Sandia Foothills last winter. The hikes will be hard this winter without her.