Favorite Toy: He loved all his toys equally! He had ton of them! He had all sorts, mainly animals, every kind I could find...elephant, whale, ostrich, orangutan, bear, iguana, and more! He loved playing with them, never destroyed them, and knew them all by name!
Favorite Food: Cheese, bananas, carrots
Favorite Walk: The National Arboretum
Best Tricks: He could do it all! He was VERY smart!
Arrival Story: My sister Tracey was one of the first official Shar-pei breeders in the US. The breed was introduced to the US by Matgo Law of Hong Kong. He published an article in Dogs Magazine in 1973, pleading dog lovers in the US to help save the Shar-pei, then listed by the Guiness World Book of Records as the rarest dog in the world, and on the verge of extinction.
My sister fell in love with the breed. Once I saw her Peis, I fell in love as well. Her favorite was a black bonemouth female, named Norma. I loved Norma and knew I someday wanted one of her puppies.
When I finished college, I told my sister I was ready for my first Pei and wanted a black boy from Norma's next litter. I was so excited when Tracey called to tell me Norma was pregnant. I was even more excited when she called to tell me there was a black boy...but I was not so excited when she told me he was "different!" When the litter was about 5 weeks old, I went to visit and saw my chosen puppy for the first time. He was named for his mother (Norma) and...he was fuzzy! None of my sister's Peis had produced bearcoats. He was the first. He had long, soft, fuzzy hair...and even though he was adorable...I initially didn't want him because I had had my mind set on what I thought was a "regular" Pei. My sister told me she had been watching him, his temperament, and she was sure he was the one for me. It didn't take me long to get over all that and fall head over heels. Tracey was SO right! Norman could not have been more perfect for me. She flew him down to me in DC when he was 8 weeks old. He was my first true love. My life, my heart.
Bio: I had Attila for 8 wonderful years. He was the sweetest, most loving, and smartest dog I have ever met. He often seemed almost human. He was with me during some very difficult years and was often my only reason for living. He died on the very day I was due to go to Tracey's funeral. She had committed suicide. I was still in shock when I took Til for a last walk before going to the airport. It was all my fault...at the time, I used to walk him off leash. He was so well trained, he stayed with me at all times. Unfortunately, he had terrible separation anxiety...I never anticipated this would be a problem on walks...he lost sight of me for a split second, a fateful moment...and ran across the street looking for me. He was hit by an SUV. I rushed him to the closest vet, but he died before I got there. Part of my heart died that day, my heart broke, and still aches after all these years. He was my everything. It is still so hard to deal with, even now as I write this, I can't stop crying. That day was a blur in the end, my grieving for Til and Tracey, but more for Til. I know my sister would have understood. She was as crazy about Norma as I was about Til. In the end, the only way I was able to console myself and move on was to believe that he was meant to be with Tracey, to take care of her. I had had him for 8 years, now she needed him. He could look after her in heaven. My guilt over his death has never left me, but I still believe he and Tracey are together. She watches over him and he watches over her.
Mom, friends, please don't mourn for me
I'm still here, though you don't see.
I'm right by your side each night and day
and within your heart I long to stay.
My body is gone but I'm always near.
I'm everything you feel, see or hear.
My spirit is free, but I'll never depart
as long as you keep me alive in your heart.
I'll never wander out of your sight-
I'm the brightest star on a summer night.
I'll never be beyond your reach-
I'm the warm moist sand when you're at the beach.
I'm the colorful leaves when fall comes around
and the pure white snow that blankets the ground.
I'm the beautiful flowers of which you're so fond,
The clear cool water in a quiet pond.
I'm the first bright blossom you'll see in the spring,
The first warm raindrop that April will bring.
I'm the first ray of light when the sun starts to shine,
and you'll see that the face in the moon is mine.
When you start thinking there's no one to love you,
you can talk to me through the Lord above you.
I'll whisper my answer through the leaves on the trees,
and you'll feel my presence in the soft summer breeze.
I'm the hot salty tears that flow when you weep
and the beautiful dreams that come while you sleep.
I'm the smile you see on a baby's face.
Just look for me, friend, I'm everyplace!
How exciting! I've never been tagged before! Thanks, Trixie! [You are soooo pretty!]
So...7 pawsome facts about me?!
1. Mom had a million nicknames for me, but most don't know Auntie called me Mufasa, from the Lion King!
2. I had a personal connection with the "cheese guy" at Eastern Market
3. I LOVED the smell of the Potomac water treatment plant near Bolling AFB [SNIFF, SNIFF....YUM!]
4. My best friend is Rommel. I trained him!
5. I took part in 2 canine Olympics and wow'd them in the "special tricks" event by tearing off and taking down the fence when mom asked me to sit! [I was young!]
6. I like being on mom's shoulders during car rides when I was little! [Had to stop when I got too big!]
7. I knew all my toys by name [and I had lots of them...40 or 50!]
Now you know me better! It's wonderful to have all you fabulous doggies as pals! Gotta run back to the Bridge now...we have a serious game of poker going and I'm winning!
Attila was one of the great loves of my life. He was my first Pei. We had a bond that cannot be explained to anyone who does not understand this special kind of love. Some people think dogs are just dogs, but Attila was not just a dog. He was my baby.
He was the most amazing being. He was so sweet, so loving, so smart. He was the best behaved dog ever. Everyone noticed. He was so good and so sweet that friends would call to invite him over..."oh, and you can come too!" they would say to me! He touched so many lives and was loved by so many. I tried to take him to as many places as possible, from the time he was 3 months old. We went hiking, to the beach...we used to go to Eastern Market every weekend. It was his socialization ground. He loved it. He greeted everyone. He especially loved the cheese guy! (This was when they still allowed dogs inside the market building! Til would be sad to know that dogs are no longer allowed to go in!)
Til was the most dignified and regal Pei I have ever had. Even now, we laugh when we remember what a goofy rascal he was as a puppy. But he grew into a real class act, he exuded "class."
Not only did he look goofy as a puppy but he was the original goofball, antics-wise! He was not destructive, but when his hormones kicked in around 5 months of age, he fixated on my bed sheets and would dig until he shredded them. Our vet laughed when I called and showed up completely exasperated! (Sheets, after all, are not cheap!) Dr. Morris explained that male pups who reach puberty often fixate on something to wear out their hormonal frustrations! My son would, of course, pick sheets! He didn't chew shoes or furniture (Peis, after all, are not chewers)...he went for the sheets! Eventually, he went in for "THE" surgery! The sheet rampages ended soon afterwards!
He loved to cuddle, for hours. He had the softest, silkiest hair and a beautiful face. He had reddish brown highlights that would pop out in his jet black hair in the summer. He had deep soulful eyes and great big beautiful paws. His tail fanned out like a "panache!" Once he reached adulthood, he didn't mind baths. He didn't like them, but he tolerated them and loved the aftermath of being clean and poofy! He would hang out with me in the garden for hours and supervise my gardening efforts. We did everything together. I could not stand leaving him behind, so I would take him everywhere with me!
Attila started a history of bearcoats in our family. My sister SuzAnne, who'se first Pei Dex passed on a few years after Attila arrived, got a chocolate bear. His name was Rommel and he was Til's best friend. Til loved him to bits. They were truly brothers. Til trained him and entertained us for months by dragging the little guy around on the floor. "Who's the alpha? Who's the alpha!?" He even taught him out to go up and down stairs. You would have to be there to really believe it, but Til was watching us teach Mel how to come down some stairs. After watching us for about 10 minutes, he made a typical disgusted Pei sound (SNORT, HUFF!) and blew by us...went up, stopped, looked at Mel and came down the stairs slowly as if to say "here, kid...this is how you do it!" He did it over and over a few times, until Mel finally caught on and followed suit! It was the cutest thing ever, a very special moment. We still remember it with fondness.
Attila was my best friend. He got me through some very tough years. It was not his responsibility to do so, but he was there for me and licked my tears away when things got really rough. He got me through years of intense depression and a bad marriage. He had to deal with my moods and my ex' yelling and horrible temper. Thankfully, life was good in his last 4.5 years and I was able to make all that up to him. I've often wished I could have given him a completely peaceful life like Genghis has had.
His health was not always good, poor baby. When he was about 4.5 years old, he started having Pei fevers. They were horrible. It was so scary. None of my sister Tracey's Peis had had them before. No one I knew was familiar with them, not even our vet. He and I both did alot of research and came up with our own recipe for getting him through them. I was frantic every time Til had one. Thankfully, as he got older, they came further and further apart and were not as severe...although still frightening. He also developed terrible allergies in his later years. His hair would vanish on his face and forearms. It was so sad, but he still looked every inch the dignified Pei that he was.
The hardest thing was leaving Til when I traveled for work. My greatest blessing was being able to leave him with Suz, his favorite Auntie. I did not travel during his younger years. He was 4 years old when I started traveling. We were so close. He already had separation anxiety, and as he was not used to my being away, it got worse. Once he started having the fevers, the anxiety became a real problem because the stress would trigger the fevers. It was heartbreaking and really scary to know that my work travels were causing him that much stress and pain. Suz was our savior. She figured out that if she dropped him and Mel off at my place while she went to work, this somehow alleviated his stress...because he had a taste of home while I was away. It worked. But I was always worried when I traveled.
Months after we lost Til, Suz told me that when they would go for walks, Til would always look in the direction of our house. He would forget himself and regularly smack his poor beautiful face into the garden wall at the corner of my sister's street...still longingly looking towards our house, hoping to see me.
Suz and I have so many WONDERFUL memories of Attila. We still reminisce about him and still feel his loss. He was such a presence in our lives. I could go on and on recounting special moments, but I will keep some to myself.
How do you sum up such a life, such a love? You can't. I can't. I am grateful for this opportunity to share my love for Attila, to share him with others. I hope I have done him justice and that I provided at least a glimpse into how special he was. He was special in life, he is still special today.
I know I will see him again some day. I will hug him and never let go.