Sad News

Harpo on her haunches

Harpo sitting at the dacha doorway

Update: all the photos are linked to Harpo’s Flickr.

My darling little girl is gone. My little pumpkin-puppy, Harpo, Harpetta, Harpsichord, Bee-bug, Bugby, passed away last week. Her penchant for chasing cars is finally satisfied. She chased her last one on Thursday, June 29. I miss her warm little body snuggled up to me in the mornings. She wasn’t an early riser and loved to stay tucked under the covers while I got ready for work, until she really, really needed to go out and pee.

Harpo really didn't want to get up this morning!

Harpo really didn’t want to get up this morning!

A few days before she left, she was sound asleep. She farted in her sleep, a nice loud one. Up she jumped! She looked at her behind, “What the heck was that!?” She didn’t like me to fart either. Or sneeze. No sneezing Mom! Or maybe it was that sneezing meant there’d be a kleenex to grab. Sometimes she grabbed it before I could even blow my drippy nose!

I miss snuggling on the couch with her. My little PeeWee wasn’t much of a snuggler; she got too hot and preferred to be nearby on her dog bed in front of the Monitor (oil stove) at the cabin in Fairbanks, or curled in the opposite corner of the couch in Bethel.  But every so often she’d cuddle up in my lap or between my legs while I read a book or sewed. And the last couple of days, while we were hanging out in the dacha in Fairbanks, she curled up on my lap in spite of the heat. Not much padding on the floor, I’m guessing, but I didn’t care. I loved cuddling with my baby girlie.

My little sweet pea left this world while we were back in Fairbanks, cleaning out the cabin, getting it ready to rent and shipping out the last load to Bethel. She had a wonderful time running around the big yard, chasing birds, grabbing my feet (no boots! no! Harpo, leave my feet alone! Ouch, that was my toe!), and delighting in the freedom. I couldn’t turn her loose at the house in Bethel-too many cars, too many bikes/4-wheelers/walkers going by, too much trouble to get into! She stayed on the chain and enjoyed watching the world go by, but it was not the same as being loose. She missed that.

The first time I turned her loose in Bethel was on the boardwalk at Pinky's Park. She was SO Happy!!

The first time I turned her loose in Bethel was on the boardwalk at Pinky’s Park. She was SO Happy!!

We walked daily in Bethel, for about an hour and a half. I was able to turn her loose for part of our daily walk, most of the time. We’d walk out on the tundra, Squirt would be chasing birds and investigating holes and tasty bits of dirt (or whatever), while I photographed plants and meandered. She was a great companion to take walking; almost everyone wanted to pet her and coo at her. She would alternate between wanting to play with other dogs on leashes or bark at them to prove that she was bigger and meaner and bossier. It was always a crapshoot to let her sniff noses-was she going to play nice or would she be grumpy and mean?? Loose dogs or chained dogs were less of a problem; she’d play with the loose ones and bark at the chained ones while I dragged her away.

She finally got to play with someone!

She finally got to play with someone!

Miss Bean Wiggle was a chow hound too. Walks on the Bethel tundra were often punctuated with commands to “Leave it!”, which of course she wouldn’t! Spit out a tasty bit of bone or feather? Good heavens, what are you asking? They were the very elixir of life to Miss Harpo! The first several weeks we were in Bethel, I swear Harpo ate every single feather she could find! I finally gave up trying to stop her from eating feathers; I figured it hadn’t hurt her yet and I hadn’t been able to stop her anyway. She finally got her fill of feathers one day-the day I gave up trying to stop her-after eating what looked like almost a complete ptarmigan. Lots of ptarmigan feathers around town in the spring because people shoot them, clean them on the spot, and leave the rest of the bird to decay naturally.

Walking in Fairbanks was a lot more fun for Harpie. She’d have to stay on the leash until we got to the path behind the cabin. We worked hard on not chasing cars along Chena Hot Springs Road, and she got to where she’d ignore them. Once we got to the path, Harpo was all about running. She’d run down the roadside trail (far enough from the road that cars were no fun) to the powerline trail. Deep snow was a challenge for her, and she’d usually find some kind of trail to follow; often as not one she’d made earlier in the week! She’d wear her snowsuit but somehow it would come off, or most of the way off, in deep snow. By then she’d be warm enough to walk without it, so I could hang it on a tree to grab on our way home.

Potato Bug loved to run. Sometimes she’d get bored and just run and run and run in circles. Around the cabin, around the dacha, around trees along the river path in Bethel. Around and around at top speed. The joy on her face was infectious; I could never resist laughing as she chased the wind. She’d chase her tail on occasion too, even though she didn’t have one!

As much as she loved to chase things-anything!-she wasn’t a retriever. Keep away was her favorite game; chase her to get it, whatever “it” was. We played a lot of keep away in the winter when it was too cold to walk. Or she’d get one of her stuffies and gut it. Rip it open and start taking the stuffing out. Luckily she never ate the stuffing! It usually took a month or two of playing to fully gut a stuffy; sometimes much longer, and sometimes she only needed a week or two.

Harps was such a character! So independent and stubborn, but quick to learn. Housebreaking was not fun; puppy pads were underfoot for the entire first winter. As soon as it warmed up, and she could go out without her snowsuit, she was almost instantly housebroken. The only time she had an accident after that was when I didn’t let her out or take her out soon enough after she asked to go potty. At Colette’s house though (she went there once a week to play with-aka “annoy”-Mazda), she still had accidents every once in awhile. Not sure why.

She loved going to play with Mazda and Colette’s little boy. Harpo treated him like another puppy. Sometimes Tulugaq would play with her, sometimes he would complain about her. Sometimes Mazda would get tired of her sass and just retreat to his doghouse. If they both had chewbones, Mazda would eventually get both of them because Harps would find something else to do, and I’d go rescue her bone. Five minutes later Mazda would have it again!

Harpsie wasn’t much of a chewer at home either. She never destroyed anything, well, except toilet paper and paper towels. She loved shredding those! There was usually a roll of toilet paper that she could reach, and when she got bored, she’d grab it, just waiting for me to play chase. When she got older she’d get this sly look on her face, like she knew it was wrong, but it was so much fun and Mom was being sooo boring.

I really miss all her little antics, her begging for food (I swear, the next dog I get is NOT going to get table scraps except in their food dish!), the morning cuddles, the way she’d try to avoid her harness when I wanted to go for a walk, the way she guarded the Bethel house from walkers and other dogs, watching her chase birds like she thought she could catch them… all the little things that make up a relationship with your dog. I miss the routine of taking her out to pee in the morning, coming home at lunch and letting her out of her kennel, the evening walk no matter what the weather is like. Watching her swim in the river to retrieve a stick, until she was too cold to go back in and I’d stop tossing.

She made sure all the pipes in Bethel were accessible to Bostons.

She made sure all the pipes in Bethel were accessible to Bostons.

How could I forget that she loved pipes?? I let her go through drain pipes in Fairbanks, and she hid in one after I rolled the Subaru (fall ’12), and wouldn’t come out for anyone but me. She inspected every single pipe in Bethel!

I don’t want to forget the way she jumped in her empty pool in Fairbanks, looking at me wondering where the water is. Watching her chase waves along the river bank, trying to catch them. I am not going to have another dog without taking them to the ocean to play in the breakers! I don’t want to forget the way she used to flop down after I put her snowsuit on and refuse to move, when she was a puppy. I don’t want to forget the way she’d smother me with kisses, every time I picked her up. Every single time. Even if I was mad at her. She was the light in my days. I can’t believe my silly little girl is gone. I just hope she is having a great ol’ romp up there with her big brother Gizmo!


3 responses to “Sad News

  1. Edie, my heart is broken for you. I was shocked to read this post and almost couldn’t finish it through my tears. I can’t believe Harpo is gone. She just got here. It’s not fair. I know how much you love her and how your life and hers were so intertwined – a model of pet/pet-parent relationships. She had the best of everything. All the personal attention, love and care any dog could want. And she was clearly very happy. What was with the pipes? That made me smile. And the snowsuit. This is a beautiful description of your life together and all the little things, as you say, which make up your relationship with your dog. Surely, Gizmo and Harpo are running around together.
    I want to be able to make it better for you although no words can do that. I’ve lost a dog to the same circumstances and I can understand the shock and pain and loss. Edie, I’m so sorry. I’m going to miss Harpo, too. You’ve painted such a vivid illustration of her through pictures and words, that I feel that I know the little girl.
    Much love and sympathy from New Jersey. Take care and keep posting.


    • Thank you Cathy; your words mean a lot to me. She really was such a happy little dog! I miss that more than anything. Yeah, she was really funny about pipes! She loved going through them. There was a walk in Fairbanks where there was a brand new road with lots of culverts and she went through every single one. I don’t know what she liked about them, but apparently she felt really safe in them. One of her many idiosyncracies! I wrote this post to keep her alive for me. My next post will be more cheerful, I promise 🙂

  2. I miss my girlie. so much. why Harpo, why?

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