Farewell to my best good little man, Pablo

Pablo de Percy. Rest in peace, my little man.

Today, my best friend died in my arms. He was suffering from a distended liver. On 14th April 2022, I took him to the veterinarian at Gundaroo, and the X-rays showed that his lung capacity was severely diminished and that he did not have long to go. Remarkably, he survived the weekend and responded well to the diuretics and the cortisone. He was with us for another 58 days, and for that time I am eternally grateful.

I always had a soft spot for mini fox terriers. At about age seven, we lived in Kingswood, near Penrith in NSW. Growing up there was rough. I routinely had to fight with other kids in the street, and usually it was a pack of them against me. 

One day, while engaged in a bloody fist fight with some kid who was visiting the neighbourhood, and amid the chants from the parents telling the other kid to "knock my head in", the horrid woman who was the host of the visitors had two mini fox terriers. They were barking and I noticed them mid-bout and thought "wow those dogs are awesome!" - I loved the tri-colours and their shape, black, white, and tan.

Pablo in 2011, aka "Marble Joe"

In 2011, I was living in medium-density housing in Palmerston, Canberra, and after returning from Jordan after a six-month sabbatical, I was caught up in the enthusiasm to create a "home" with cats, chickens, and dogs.  I really wanted a male and a female mini fox terrier. One was available from Cooma, coming to Canberra where I could select one from the litter. The other was a rescue from Hay.

Frida, arriving in a B-Double truck. Tiny the Truckie delivered Frida (aka Tiny) to the Yass Service Centre at about 1am the morning after I picked up Pablo in Canberra.

The male, known by the children of the breeder as Marble Joe because of the shape of his head, I named Pablo after Picasso. The female was known as Tiny because she was, well, tiny. She was named Frida after Frida Khalo.

Pablo with Frida, 2011

When I arrived in Watson to choose from the litter, the breeder suggested I just hang out with the pups and the mother and see what happened. I squatted down among the litter. Pablo walked straight up to me and sat between my legs as I squatted, a position he would assume right up until his last day today.

It was pretty straightforward after that, and I brought Pablo home with me. I picked up Frida that night and for the next four and a bit years the two of them walked with me every day. At one stage, Pablo would walk 16km each day with me, until his feet hurt and then he walked with me every other day. But he was fit and strong and always by my side.

Pablo had some issues though, and he spent some time under observation at the vet in Fyshwick, which cost me a fortune to tell me nothing. 

I had some experiences with greedy vets who appeared to be interested in upselling based on my moral gullibility until I met Jan Spate at Hall. Jan was incredible and charged prices that everyone could afford. The way she was treated by her colleagues was abysmal.

Frankie in 2015

After moving to Gunning in late 2015, I first met Joseph from Gundaroo South Veterinary Clinic when I needed to have my Tenterfield Terrier-Jack Russell cross, Frankie, vaccinated. We didn't hit it off at first but Joseph came to be a friend and I miss him now he has retired and moved away. Thankfully Alex, our new vet, has been a godsend and the local vet continues to be affordable.

After years of friendship, companionship, and counselling, on 14th April 2022, Pablo was short of breath and not in good shape. X-rays revealed that his liver was distended and he had less than 20% of his lung capacity remaining. The prognosis was not good, and I was told that if he survived the weekend, he might stay with us for a little while longer.

Pablo with Desi during his final days.

During the next 58 days, Pablo responded well to the diuretics and cortisone until the evening of 9th June when he was short of breath and lethargic. He survived the night but he did not eat in the morning and even had trouble taking his medications with cheese, his favourite treat. By midday, he was unable to walk and I made the call to the vet. Pablo's life was set to end at 5.30pm.

I am no stranger to sobering moments with pets. My cat, Desi, has skin fragility syndrome and should have been put down when he was 12 months old. He is now four, and although he suffers superficial wounds and an inoperable case of cherry eye, he is still kicking on.

After much research, and working with Joseph the Good Vet, we worked out what the condition was and also that Desi was allergic to beef. Giving him beef collagen to help with his skin condition was counterproductive. After a few months he no longer needed the cortisone, so now he has his own room and pretty much does whatever he wants.

Pablo loved to go for walks. In his prime, he would do 16 km per day with me.

Frankie, the Tenterfield Terrier-Jack Russell cross, one day was shaking and lethargic. After tests, she was found to have high levels of ammonia poisoning. I thought she must have been eating the fertiliser, but after much research and discussion with Joseph, we discovered that she had Addison's disease. She now has a relatively normal life with daily medication and occasional doses of Prednisone when she is having a bad day.

We have four cats, two dogs (as of today), and eight chickens, so our pets are a major part of our life. Just before 2pm today, I was fretting about Pablo having to sit in the front of the car for the trip to Gundaroo. Rather than sit around for hours, I thought I would take the dogs to the nearby Riparian Walk and I would carry Pablo while the other two frolicked as they normally do. Pablo gave his tail a wag after I put him in the back of the car.

Pablo had trouble walking so after we finished the walk, I left him standing while I put Frida and Frankie in the car. I then carried Pablo to the car and put him in front of the passenger seat. I drove home and let Frida and Frankie in the back gate, and drove around to the front of the house to bring Pablo back inside.

Me and Pablo, 2022

As we drove off, Pablo turned to face the front of the car, then put his head down in a face-plant position. He looked so cute and at peace but I knew it was the end. When I arrived at the front of the house, I picked him up and he gasped once. I knocked on the door and my partner answered. Pablo gasped once more and died in my arms.

I buried him in the backyard in the place he liked to sit in the sun while I watched him from the kitchen window. 

We sent him off in the little woollen jumper he adored, covered in roses from the back garden. We shared a Guinness with him and covered him over. 

Frankie, Pablo, and Frida at the Gunning Golf Course in 2019

I can't believe he is gone. I am so sad.
If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. — Will Rogers.