Monday, May 5, 2014

Saying Goodbye to a Sweet, Furry Friend

This weekend was a tough one. My husband, kids, and I had to put our beloved 16 1/2-year-old dog, Iggy, to sleep. He lived an incredibly long and happy life that spanned from my early years of marriage as a twentysomething in San Diego to my modern world as a working writer with two kids in Oregon. Even though we knew we wouldn't have Iggy with us much longer, losing him has left an empty gap in our house. I usually sit here in the mornings, checking my emails and getting started on my writing for the day, while he slept downstairs until our late-morning walk and lunchtime. In the recent months, his "walk" mainly consisted of me taking him out to the front yard so he could smell the flowers before I went out on a longer walk by myself, but I will miss even those small moments of watching him bury his face in all the foliage. He was sweet and gentle up until his final moments, and I even managed to get one last tail wag from him just hours before we had to let him go. Even when he became uncomfortable and ill, he never growled; he never got grumpy.

Throughout In the Shadow of Blackbirds, I slipped in personal references to my own life and to the people I love. Family birthdays, the names of inspirational teachers, a play my sister and I enjoyed as kids, etc., all managed to find their way into the book. My nod to Iggy came in the form of the character Paul Spitz, after whom Chapter Twenty is named. Iggy's breed is called "American Eskimo" or "Eskie" in modern times, but up until 1917, it was "American Spitz." The name is believed to have been changed because of the push to Americanize all German names during World War I. I found it fascinating that my own dog's breed contained a connection to the war, and when I was looking for a German last name for Paul, "Spitz" seemed perfect. I love that a little bit of Iggy has now been immortalized in this novel.

Although my house and my heart feel empty and painful today, I will always cherish all the photos and memories that came about from a pup who managed to live almost two decades. Thank you, Iggy, for showing so many people how love and sweetness make the world a better place.

Iggy, guarding the manuscript for The Cure for Dreaming last fall.


Ara Burklund said...

Iggy was such a sweetheart! Hugs to you, C! xo

Kim Murphy said...

A wonderful tribute!

Unknown said...

That was a wonderful tidbit about a beloved family member. I am so sorry for you loss, Cat.

Cat Winters said...

Thank you for the kind notes. Iggy hated whenever any of us were sad, so I wanted to do my best to celebrate him today.

Unknown said...

This is a lovely post, I am glad he got to live such a long happy life. Sending happy thoughts your way. :)

Cat Winters said...

Thank you, Wilhelmina! :)

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