This was my dog, Emma. I took this photograph in Stuyvesant Square Park, probably around 2008-2009 in my old neighborhood. She was a great dog, everyone knew her name but didn’t necessarily know mine.
Around 1999 or so a friend brought a dog home, he found it tied to a bench in a park somewhere in New York. He had a dog and couldn’t keep the one he found, so I offered to keep the dog until someone adopted it. Well, I’m an old softy and within three days I had named her and decided to keep her. I named her Oprah because I thought she looked just like Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah must have gotten into some sort of poison or something while she was homeless. Two weeks after I adopted her, she was looking very ill so I took her to the vet. At the vet, they took some blood and gave her fluids, then I took her home. Overnight she became worse and I was up with her trying to comfort her, but she was not doing well. I called up the vet at 9:30 when I knew they would be open, the vet was with a patient so they said he would call back. Oprah was getting worse and worse. When the vet called, I was sobbing because Oprah was just not doing well. As I spoke to him, sobbing on the phone, Oprah started to throw up black fluid, I told him I would call back. Her body convulsed a few times and she was gone.
I felt so bad for this poor dog that was left alone in a park and then died an early death. I decided I would have her cremated. The vet wasn’t that far away so I decided to carry her. I wrapped her in a blanket and left the house to go to the vet. I ran into a chatty neighbor outside my building and had to tell him I had my dog who just died in my arms and I had to get to the vet. That shut him up.
On my way home from the vet, I ran into a neighborhood dog walker. She said she heard about my dog, and she was sorry. She then said “Why don’t you go to the Animal Care and Control and save another dog?” She mentioned a New York Magazine article from October 19, 1988. She said, “They are euthanizing over 4,000 animals a month! You made room in your life for this dog, please go save another, please!”
So, I thought I would go have a look and see who was available. Tuesday and Fridays were adoption days, and it happened to be a Tuesday, so off the the Animal Care and Control I went. When I got there I still wasn’t ready. I looked around and thought, “No more dogs, it’s too painful”. But the following Friday, I had a feeling and went to the shelter again. I told them I was looking for a young dog, preferably a puppy, and would prefer a pitbull, Oprah was a pitbull and was beautiful.
They took me into the section with younger dogs, and there sat the future Emma, with mange and patches of fur missing. But one look at each other and we knew…
I brought her home that day. She was the best. As I said, people would ask me “Are you Emmas Dad?” They didn’t care who I was, Brian Robinson would say “EMMA THE GOOOOOOSE!” and she would go CRAZY!!! Running around in circles jumping all over, an amazing dog.
Emma developed bladder cancer that started to block her urethra. The first signs were blood in her urine. The vet gave us some medication and said the reality was that one day the cancer would grow and block her urethra totally. He said from diagnosis to death in this instance would be about 6 months.
Well, Emma proved them wrong and went full steam ahead for almost 3 years. One Sunday morning I woke up and found her shaking in the storage room. I thought she had to really go to the bathroom so I quickly dressed and took her outside. She went to the first tree and crouched to pee. Nothing came out. She turned and looked at me and I knew this was the day I was dreading.
Since it was Sunday our regular vet was closed, but there was an animal hospital on 5th Avenue and 15th Street. It was early and I was a mess, and called my friend Diana Doussant, who, God Bless her, got up and accompanied me to the animal hospital. I was in tears dreading what might happen, Diana was my rock that day.
They took Emma in, sedated her and put a catheter in to drain her bladder. Diana and I wandered around Barnes and Noble nearby waiting to hear back, trying our best not to cry. When they called we went back to find out her condition. And yes, it was the news I didn’t want to hear. The cancer had grown and was completely blocking her urethra. Surgery was required but the outcome was not certain. The cancer might return, she may have to have a catheter for the the rest of her life. She was nearly 12, and surgery at that point, with the uncertainty of the cancer, we decided not to go that route, but to end her suffering. I held her as she passed, it was a sad, sad day for me and is a difficult thing to share.
We had many wonderful times in our years together, I cannot remember the year or date she died. I prefer not to dwell or remember death, but remember her life and our friendship. I remember cuddling with her under the covers when it was cold, her happiness, her joy at the simplest of things and the unconditional love she gave me.