In Memoriam of that crazy Fish
This is extremely difficult for me right now. I apologize in advance if this does not flow well, as I know there will be many stops and starts born from the need to step away when the emotions are too much. There will also be various updates done as I remember more and more, but for now this needs to be done.
Two days ago, on February 24th 2018, we had to say goodbye to the first dog we ever lived with together. Yuna Saphira Fishy Swah was 11 years old, and was with us since she was a few months old. This entire situation gutted us because it was all so fast. Last week, she was totally fine. She ate, ran, played, and was her normal fishy self. Then, earlier in the week, she started acting off. She stopped eating as much, then stopped eating completely. She was lethargic and seemed to have a little difficulty breathing. We took her to the vet, and he did some blood work and x-rays. The x-rays showed a haze around her, which they determined to be fluid surrounding her body cavity. When the blood work came back the following day, he called us in to say that some thing looked off, and he wanted to do an ultrasound and analyze the fluid in her. He said it could just be something like pancreatitis, or it could be some form of cancer. The fluid analysis would tell the tale. She ate a can of food at the vet that day, Thursday, and things looked up. We tried giving her another can that night, but she wasn’t into it. The next day we were away, and when we got home at night she was still not eating and still very much not herself. Saturday morning, the Lish had to run a morning errand, and I went to pick up the kids from their grandparents. Around noon, Lish called to tell me she got home and Yuna was noticeably worse. Her breathing was labored, and her belly was more swollen due to fluid buildup. She called the vet, who gave us the bad news. Stomach cancer. That’s why she didn’t want to eat, and it was also causing the fluid build up. Due to the type of cancer, there wasn’t really anything he could do. I rushed home with the kids in tow to say goodbye. Our vet took us in right away, even though they were closed for the day and he had a personal doctor’s appointment that he had to cancel so he could see us. We held her, loved her, talked to her, and cried. He gave her the sedative to make her sleep, but she fought and stayed awake until the very end. I kept eye contact with her until her last, and saw her leave this world. The dam broke, the waves of sorrow, anger, frustration, and loss pounded into me, devastating me inside with every surge. The sheer disbelief, the thoughts of “how could this happen?”. I hadn’t taken it too seriously earlier because she never really got sick, and she was always filled with such boundless puppy joy and energy. How could such a perfectly bright shining star of love, kindness, happiness, and cheer be snuffed out like the flame of a candle. Now, I’m left with an emptiness, a hollowness in my heart where part of me is missing.
We left the vet’s office, and came home to an empty house for the first time. It felt wrong, awful, and alien. We gathered up her things to put them away, out of sight. I brought the crates, bowls, and food mat down to the basement. I came up to find the Lish outside, sitting in the light rain. She was clutching Yuna’s toys and crying in earnest. I joined her. We wept openly for out lost baby, our little swah. We came back in some time later and tried to get ourselves centered and distracted. We called some of our friends to make them aware of what happened. They offered to come by, but we said we’d be ok. They all came by anyway, bringing love, comfort snacks, and even dinner. Those who brought us dinner weren’t planning on staying because they had their little dog with them, and didn’t want to upset us by bringing her in. I asked them to bring her in, and it was just what we needed. The love of our friends, and their dog’s crazy puppy energy, brought some life back into our home, even if only for a few hours. We’re thankful to have such great people in our lives. The next day was difficult. I’m reminded of her absence at every turn, and I’m constantly needing to catch myself from calling out to her. I imagine seeing her every time I look at the couch or peer out into the backyard. I feel the absence of her presence when I’m in my office, and when I use the bathroom, since she’d exploit such occasions to get constant love and pets from her ‘captive audience’. I sat in my office for a time, holding her rope (aptly named, Ropey), and crying.
Yuna was our first dog together. Lish and I both had dogs growing up, and when we moved into our first house we were finally able to adopt a dog. We went to the North Shore Animal League and decided to give a puppy a home. We saw a bunch of adorable pups, but our hearts were stolen by this lanky mantle puppy cowering in the back of her cage. We took her out, and she was this little bundle of love, giving us endless kisses without being at all mouthy. We were smitten, and decided that she was the one. I had to leave briefly to drive our friend home, and while I was away, the Lish found an older dog who stole her heart as well. We adopted them both. The older dog we named Cosmo, after Cher’s character’s father from the movie Moonstruck. The beautiful puppy we named Yuna, after the beautiful summoner from Final Fantasy X, since she summoned love and happiness everywhere she went. We took them home and got them all set up. We decided to crate train Yuna, but she was too small for the small size crate we bought, so we had to put a cooler and some boxes in there to use up the space. She was a brilliant dog. House trained and crate trained in a few days. We later took her to obedience lessons, where she learned pretty well. If we said “Yuna, come” she’d always come running.
She started developing an issue where she’d chase her tail. It became a problem, and she’d just chase all the time and bark while doing so. We took her to specialist after specialist, and eventually she broke free of it because we got Sophie. The two would run and play, and it broke the cycle. She never had an issue chasing ever again, even though eventually the two started getting into actual fights and needed to be kept separate. Still, I do think they had a bond, and Yuna was different after Sophie died. Anyways, I’m getting off track here. Too many breaks.
Her name. You now know her name, as listed in the first paragraph, but here’s the explanation of everything after Yuna. First, before any other nicknames, she received her alter ego name. As I said before, Yuna was a licker. She licked everyone, and loved giving kisses. Even when she was a puppy, she’d pause mid-lick with her tongue on your hand or face, almost as if she was too tired to keep it going. She became known as The Lazy Licker, and she did that right until the end. Soon after getting her, we saw the movie Eragon and his dragon reminded us of Yuna when the dragon was young. We then started calling her Yuna Saphira. Fast forward a bit, and Lish jokingly called her Yuna fish, cuz it sounded like tuna fish. The name stuck, and we started referring to her as Fish. Yes, we had a dog named Fish… Finally, there was a joke Lish told that went something like this: “What do you call a fish with no eyes?” “Fssssshhhhh”. We would call Yuna by saying Fsssshhhhhh, and she’d come running like mad cuz that was usually playtime. We had so many great times with her, I literally can’t list them all. I will, however, give some highlights.
First, I’ll talk about her temperament. Yuna, while not really a fan of other dogs after the incident with Sophie, was the best dog with people and children. She never once showed any sort of aggression towards anyone, and was always there to comfort, play, and lick. She always wanted to be close, to lay on people, to pet, and to lick your face. When we first had her, we slept upstairs while the dogs slept downstairs. The first of us to wake up would go downstairs to let her out, and then call upstairs “incoming!”. The remaining person in bed had a brief couple of seconds to cover up while hearing the approaching thunder of her running up the stairs, just before that crazy fish jumped on the bed and proceeded to lick their face. She was always ready to play when it was playtime, snuggle when it was couch time, and comfort us when we were going through something.
She would eviscerate any toy we gave her, even those deemed virtually indestructible. Only a few over the years were durable enough to survive. We have video of her gutting her “indestructible alligator” after maybe 5-10 minutes of play. Still, she loved her toys. As a puppy, her favorite was her “heave a beaver”, but eventually her love of Ropey and Pheasant outshined them all. She did eventually have one toy that she never truly gutted, which we called her lovey. She took it with her around the house, but didn’t shred it like the others. This was only a recent thing, though. She also had horrible separation anxiety, and would shred any bed or blanket we put in her crate when we left the house. The leftovers were referred to as remnants when we’d find them around the house.
We’ll miss her “voice” in the house as well. We’re the sort of people who talk for our animals, and have full on conversations. Sometimes it’s short, like me looking down at her by the back door and saying “What’s up, little Fish?”, only to respond in her voice with “Dad. Gotta shit. Crowning right now.”. Another would be me trying to chase her down, and her taunting me by saying “Dad, you’re too slow…you need two more legs!”. Sometimes it’s longer talks, usually when Lish questions something she does and I respond in her voice. Then there’s the occasional “Damn Right!”, or “Fuckin A right, Mom/Dad!”, after which we’d tell her to watch her language, to which she’d respond “Fuck yeah, on it!”. She’d also ‘refer’ to herself as supardafish, cuz she’s very supaaaar, and incredibly da-fish. I know, we’re fuckin’ weird, but you already knew that since you read this shit. Besides, we’re damn near 2k words in this post already, so if you’re still reading you’ve probably already lost your mind anyways and this crap seems normal.
Yuna was also the only dog we had that watched TV. She would keep an eye on it for any time an animal would appear on the screen, at which time she would jump off the couch, run up to the TV, and bark her head off at “those fuckers” on screen trying to invade the house through the magic window in the living room.
She’d also play this lovely game called “attack the victim”. If the kids were chasing me around the house, or if it was me chasing the Lish, Yuna would get involved. Instead of going after the attacker and protecting, she’d attack the victim, jumping up and trying to play while slowing them down. This tactic worked to her advantage, as a slowed playful human was easier to lick in the face.
There were the little things she did. Her on my lap while I ate at the dinner table, which we called “that mysterious warmth”. Her licking us on the back of the knee when we’d get out of the shower. Hearing the Beast giggle and laugh in the bathroom after a shower because “Yuna just licked my tushy”.
A huge thing I’m gonna miss is her with the Peanutty. He always loved her, but in the past 2 years or so he really connected with her. He’d always want to be close to her, give her love, cover her with a blanket, or play with her. It was very much an instance of “a boy and his dog”. When Lish’s mom would stay over, Yuna would sleep in bed with her, but we’d often find Yuna in Peanutty’s bed in the morning. She’d leave the room with Lish’s mom and go into Peanutty’s room and climb into bed with him. He was absolutely devastated when this all went down, and yesterday was peppered with random breakdowns on his end as well.
So now we have an empty house. No little feet padding around the carpet, or clicking on the hardwood. No little head nudging my arm for love, or resting her head on my lap while I ate. No beautiful soulful eyes looking up at me while I give love and scratchies on the head. No more hearing the children giggling maniacally because she’s licking their faces, which would get more and more vigorous the more they laughed. No 50 lbs of puppy energy jumping on the bed and rooting around to find my face and deliver massive slobber attacks, tail wagging more and more furiously the longer it goes on. No barking at the TV. No climbing over the Lish on the couch so she could lay down between us while we watched TV. No more fighting with Ropey or Pheasant. No more ‘Damn Right’. No more attacking the victim. No more snuggling together in bed at night when the Lish was away for the weekend. I just walk in the house now and call out, with only my echo to greet me. At night I just go bed, and don’t give her goodnight kisses and whisper “g’night little feet” to her before shutting her crate. I’ll never kiss her tiny head or ears again, never hug her again, never smell her paws or play ‘kiss ya last’. My heart is just fucking broken, and the waves just keep coming. I’m still mostly in shock, and I think it’s because if I were to let the emotions happen I’d have a full blown panic attack and be a complete mess.
I miss you, my little angel. You were my puppy, my friend, my companion, my heart, my dog, the best little fish ever, and I don’t know how the fuck I can live without you. My life feels broken and wrong. I don’t want this reality now, because the world was a far better place with you in it. You mean so very much to me, my little pup, and I hope the feeling was mutual. I hope you were happy, and that we gave you a good life with us. We certainly tried. I don’t want this all to be true, and I hate that I’ll never hold you again. I love you, always and forever, my little baby fish. You will always be in my heart, until the day I die, and nobody else will ever be the fish.