Farewelling Hero


On Friday, my four legged little friend sat across from me in the office. I happy-snapped this picture of him staring out in to the bushland. He had lived in Canberra now since May and after a pancreatic failure episode and the onset of acute diabetes was unable to wander outside. He was constantly hungry due to a restricted diet to manage his insulin levels. Given a chance, he would take off into the neighborhood in a hunt for anything edible he could find. Taking him for a walk became a challenge to make sure there was nothing in his path that he could consume. A month ago, he squeezed through a fence and ate what the vet believed was a Mag-Pie - the x-rays showed a large bird skeleton.

He was seven years old and this little Maltese Shih Tzu's name was Hero.

I bought Hero when he was six weeks old from a pet shop. He looked like an Ewok from Star Wars, all black with two white eyebrows a perfect waist c0at and white booties as markings. He was so small he fit in the palm of my hand - all 750 grams of him.

The night before I wandered into the pet shot I watched Jet Li's film, Hero. It is one of the most beautiful films I had ever seen with an explosive use of color. In the film, Jet Li's character is nameless, he is the hero. Having never owned a pet, I was unsure how naming went. I asked the shop girl what the animal's name was after an initial cuddle session. She said he doesn't have one. I responded, "He is nameless, like the Hero." She looked at me strangely but it was set, and this little black powder puff became Hero.

Hero spent his early days in the kitchen and we threw a party in his honor. Our friends bought him little gifts. Within six months he was completely voice trained (no leash needed for walks).  I taught him good manners, how to fetch, and he was like our first born child.  He loved company and was utterly lovely. He loved to ride in the car and was happy to hop in my handbag and go for outings.

In July 2005 I became pregnant with my son. We were a bit apprehensive as to how Hero would cope with another small member joining the herd. It turned out not to be a problem.

Hero and Bunny (8 weeks).jpg
Hero and Bunny (8 weeks).jpg

Hero was so patient with Bunny. He never minded the games of chase, the occasional pull on his ears, or clumsy cuddles Buns would attempt in his terrible two's.

Hero was our litmus test for nannies. In his funny little way, he would let us know if they were good enough for our boy with his behavior. We had one incident with a nanny who failed to tell us she had a severe hearing loss. (How would she possible hear the baby monitor?). On her second day, he took one of her $2 thongs, brought it downstairs under the table, and ripped it to shreds. (He had never chewed anything of anyone else's before...ever.) Loving a pet is like loving someone else's child. It comes from a place of compassion.

To be continued...