Peter’s Passing

A friend of ours lost a grand dog last week. Steve’s obit for Peter (below) was so eloquent that I wanted to share it with fellow Dog Lovers, and posted it elsewhere with Steve’s permission. It’s a fine example of one way to celebrate the life of one of those who I regard as having “Graduated.”

Peter’s Passing
1/03/2000 to 2/07/2011

It will come as a shock to most reading this letter that Peter, our beloved Irish Water Spaniel, was humanely put to sleep this morning. We learned about ten days ago that he had inoperable abdominal cancer. The veterinarians at Cornell told us to take him home to enjoy his final days. The three of us did enjoy his last days just as we had enjoyed every one of his eleven years. He was a wonderful dog and he had a wonderful life.

Peter was born in Canada. He had fine breeding and breeders. We were in touch with his breeders throughout his life and their help was greatly appreciated. As you know, he was a happy, sweet and healthy dog. He brought great joy to his parents. He was our workmate at [my] dental office for his entire life. Peter was rarely apart from his parents. He was only boarded at one kennel and they took special care of him so we could go away without worry. He had a caring veterinarian who took care of him his whole life.

Peter and groomers did not always get along, and after the five who did their best for him, Peter had his parents groom him for his final year. Peter had a way of making friends and getting attention his whole life. I cannot remember how many people, seeing him for the first time, said the same thing. “What a beautiful dog!” He also had a special student friend at Cornell.

Neither Joan nor I can believe that these eleven years have ended so soon. Both Joan and I have had many special dogs in our lives, but without any doubt Peter was the one most special dog in our lives. My mother once told me that he was the perfect dog. She was not one easily snookered by canines, but he got to her too. Joan and I have a big hole in our hearts that could only have been filled by him.

Irish Water Spaniels are often referred to as the “clowns of the spaniel world.” Without spending as much time with him as we did, it would be hard to understand just how funny he could be. It was not just that great face, those knowing brown eyes and that crazy topknot. He did great physical comedy. If you don’t believe he was an acrobat, just ask those five rejected groomers what he put them through. Until just a few years ago he would stand on his head on the sofa.

He was able to balance whimsy with dignity. He had definite ideas about how the world should be. His Canadian breeder told us that his was a noble breed. He lived up to those princely standards. He could live a dog’s life of running, swimming and hunting. However, he expected pillows on the sofa, blankets on the furniture, cushions on the rugs and plenty of good home-cooked food. It is easier to be a great dog when you have a great mom. If there was anything he needed from Joan in eleven years, she gave it to him with a joyful heart. He was great; Joan was better.

Peter was blessed in church nearly every year of his life at the “blessing of the animals” service. Five different priests blessed him and in his final hour another priest prayed for him over the telephone. He always went to church with us except for unusually frigid weather. During my years as senior warden that meant a lot of trips to church. He was happy to go there, just as he was happy to go anywhere with us. We planned vacations only to places that took dogs.

Unfortunately, dogs do not live as long as they should. We are much richer for his life. He taught us much more that we taught him. Even in this time of sorrow, Joan and I are thankful and grateful to God for having had him. We gave him all we could and he returned that by giving us much more. May angels surround him, and welcome him in peace.


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