Yesterday would have been Phoenix’s 15th birthday.
Since he’s not here to celebrate with me, I thought I would post some pictures from the 13 wonderful years we spent together. Many, you will have already seen, but I thought I’d also try and add a little story to go along with them.
This picture was given to me by Phoenix’s foster family. Alice, his foster mom, told me that Phoenix’s favourite place to sleep was behind her, in this pink chair. She said that in the mornings, Phoenix wood eat his breakfast, go out for relief, play a bit of bowl hockey and then take an hour nap. She said that as he got bigger though, he began to take up more and more of the chair, until finally, she had to find another place to sit.
Phoenix joined me in my final year of high school. He was probably the most popular student in our year. Everyone seemed to know his name, and at times I’d have random people come over to give him a treat. I think his favourite class was spare though, because we would usually meet up with a friend to go outside and play fetch or leave school to walk around the mall. Unlike Cessna, Phoenix loved to go shopping.
Phoenix and I joined Huib in Vancouver, when he attended a conference. I had a friend come along so that we could tour the universities and visit some of the sights. I think the funniest story of that trip, was when Phoenix met another guide dog. I had been talking to a woman on the web and decided to meet up with her. Phoenix was so happy to see Hula, that he got a little too “excited”. I was so embarrassed!
The only other memorable experience from that trip, was probably when I got to feed a real seal in Victoria. There is a spot where you can go out onto a dock overlooking the Pacific Ocean and feed the seals some fresh fish from a vendor. I held the piece of fish over the edge of the dock and Phoenix watched intently, as a big, fat seal appeared, and took the fish.
Phoenix was always so proud of new “clothes”. He would prance around the house, showing off his new item. It didn’t matter if it was a new bandana, collar, coat or saddle bags, he had to show them off. It also didn’t matter if just Huib and I were home either. I have some other funny pictures of him dressed up, but I’ll have to get Huib to help me find them, to post at a later date.
When Phoenix retired, I knew he wouldn’t be happy just staying at home, so I decided to have him certified as a therapy dog. Phoenix loved visiting with all of the residents at the long-term care home we were assigned to. Unfortunately, school got in the way, and we had to resign after just a year of volunteering.
Phoenix loved going on walks through the conservation area behind our Guelph condominium. He had fun sniffing and investigating, while his buddy Aspen got into any puddle she could find. Luckily, Phoenix hated mud and puddles, so we never had to worry about giving him a bath after a walk.
Phoenix was never a big fan of puppies, but he also had a great deal of patience. When Aiden was really, really young, he used to follow Phoenix around like he was a celebrity. It took Aiden months, but Phoenix finally warmed up to him.
This picture was taken while they were both in “time out” for doing things they shouldn’t have. Phoenix had decided to eat a skeletonized bird carcass, while Aiden wouldn’t stop trying to raid the cooler of another beach-goer.
Phoenix was always food obsessed. He would do absolutely anything for food. When he ate, his bowl was clean within seconds. When I offered a treat, he grabbed it out of my hand. His favourite toys, were anything that had to do with food, so we used to search high and low for new treat dispensing toys. I think by the end, Phoenix had five different balls that dispensed treats, and four different kong products, we could put cookies into. Rogue has since inherited his beloved toys.
One really bad habit Phoenix had, was rolling around in the sand after he was all wet. I used to try so hard to keep him clean, but he always ended up outsmarting me.
Phoenix always loved swimming. He would swim so long, that we’d actually worry about him drowning from exhaustion. As he got older though, he found it more fun to just stand in the shallow parts, cooling off.
We had quite the scare in December, when Phoenix had an acute onset of Idiopathic Vestibular Disease. We honestly thought we were going to lose him, but were blessed to have him with us eight more months.
Last year, we weren’t sure Phoenix would be with us to celebrate his 15th birthday, so we had quite the party. My sister and step-dad came over and we all (dogs included) had pizza (gluten-free for the dogs) and cupcakes.
I had the pleasure of spending 13, wonderful years with the most wonderful teacher, helper and friend. Even though we had our ups and downs, I would never change a thing.
Phoenix always lived his life on his own terms, so it’s fitting to think, that he left this life on his own terms.
Though I still miss him every day, I know he’s happier and healthier in his new home.
Rest in peace my mellow, yellow, fellow.