Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Passing of a Muse
Why is it that life's highs are so often counterbalanced by corresponding lows?
Sadly, the printing of my new book, A is for Angel: A Dog Lover's Guide to the Alphabet, an event that brought me great satisfaction, coincided roughly with the diagnosis of one of our dogs, Samba, with hemangiosarcoma. What made this coincidence particularly painful and ironic was the fact that Samba had been something of a photographic muse for me.
My husband and I adopted Samba and her brother Tango when they were 3-and-a-half months old, following the death of one of our first dogs, Boris. We discovered them at an adoption show of the SPCA/Humane Society of Prince George's County and burst into tears. Black and fluffy, they reminded us so much of Boris as a puppy. We were smitten!
Over the years, Samba posed for many photos, including Halloween portraits, Christmas cards, and the cover of my book Black is Beautiful: A Celebration of Dark Dogs. There's something serene and soulful in her expression in that cover shot that will stay with me always, as will the photos taken of her in the snow and on her bed just a week before she died.
Before Samba's diagnosis, I had never heard of hemangiosarcoma, but desperate for any information that might help us help her, I scoured the web, and quickly learned that it is discouragingly common...and deadly. Despite the removal of her spleen, site of the original tumor, Samba succumbed just one short month after diagnosis. But during the course of my information search, I discovered a source of hope for all dog lovers: the National Canine Cancer Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds grants for researchers investigating the prevention, treatment, and cure of cancers afflicting our canine companions. So in an effort to channel my grief, I established a fundraising page in Samba's memory on the NCCF's website. I encourage you to read her story there and make a donation to the cause if you're moved to do so.