Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pictures of Lily

No, I'm not talking about the song by The Who.  I'm talking about actual pictures, of my dog Lily.

If you're not a person who's ever experienced a strong attachment to an animal, it's probably impossible to convey what that relationship is like (especially if you're one of the it's just an animal ilk who uses rational arguments about anthropomorphism and displaced maternal feelings to deride the legitimacy of the human-dog bond).  But if you have ever really connected with a pet, you'll understand what I mean when I say I loved my dog more than almost anything in the world, ever.

We found Lily on an Easter Sunday.  I was learning to drive and my parents had let me take control of the family station wagon on the way to breakfast.  After we ate I suggested we stop by the Alameda animal shelter because we'd been thinking about getting another dog (we already had a family dog, the loyal and wonderful terrier Virginia).  My parents both knew, they later said, that it would be closed, but they let me drive over there anyway.

The Alameda SPCA is off the end of the street I currently live on next to a marina.  It's tucked away on a dead end road after a series of left turns, surrounded by boats up on blocks for cleaning and weird little rental shacks and mooring stations.  When we pulled into the parking lot I finally connected the dots and realized the place was closed.  I was about to turn the car around when suddenly there was a flash of movement near the door and the three of us simultaneously noticed that outside, tied to a bike rack, was a little white dog.

My family, my mother in particular, is known for having a soft spot for animals.  If there's a dog on the street, my mother will stop her car and get out to help it.  If someone gets sick and can't care for their pet, they will come and stay at our house.  And a few months ago my mom got into fostering (with Muttville) and that's how they wound up with their house guest, Luigi, who really is a super sweet funny little dude (if you're interested in adopting him).

So it's no surprise that in the presence of an animal in need, we piled out of the car and scooped her up.  She was shaggy and goofy looking and I suggested that we offer her to our friend Dana, who was also talking about getting a dog, but my step-dad Jim (who had the fluff ball curled in his arms) looked up and said, "Well, I don't know about that..."

Being responsible people, we of course posted "dog found" signs around the neighborhood and listed Lily with the ASPCA, but no one responded and after a few weeks we decided she was ours for good.  We named her after the Easter flower in honor of the day she was found, and I trimmed her hair to reveal the most adorable face on any dog, ever. 


Only a few days after bringing Lily home my parents headed off to Chicago for a week, leaving me to watch the dogs on my own.  This meant that Lily bonded most closely with me, especially since for the first few nights she was nervous and unable to sleep and the only way I could get her to lie down was to put her on my chest and pet her until she finally drifted off.  From that point on she slept with me, curled in my arms like a little doll, and every morning I woke up to her sleepy face tucked snugly under my chin.

At her first visit to our family we learned Lily was about a year old, and in spite of their roughly 8 year age difference Lily became fast buddies with Virginia.  Ginny had started to slow down around then, but with this new young puppy in the house she immediately perked up, romping and playing like she had when we'd first adopted her (from the Oakland SPCA) in 1989.  Virginia went on to live another 9 years with her bestie by her side, something I don't think would've happened if she'd remained an only-dog.

Lily, as you may know, lived only a few months more after Ginny left us.  In fall of 2005 Lily had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.  Virginia died of old age shortly after our 17th anniversary on Halloween of that year, and Lily hung on until summer of 2006 before her little body finally gave out.

Knowing that she was dying was terrible and painful, but it also meant we had a lot of time to prepare for losing her.  One of the ways I handled this was by taking hundreds and hundreds of photos of her, so while she's on my mind today I'd like to share some of my favorites with you.





For more photos from the Brisk photo files, check out my flickr account at


  1. I love your story of Lily. We recently had to put down our 17 year old jack russell terrier, Odie. The little ones have so much spirit.
    It was hard to leave Odie, but I celebrate the many years we had with her.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, E. If only dogs lived as long as we did :-)