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He Was a Very Good Boy: Pancho 1994 - 2010

Rural Intelligence Style Our blogger, interior designer Carey Maloney, and his partner Hermes Mallea, an architect, are principals in the M (Group).
 
My Pancho died this afternoon.  I can’t stop crying.
 
I know, I know he was sixteen, and he lived the life of a prince.  I’m crying for me, not him.  I had so much fun with him.
 
I did pull myself together for a moment and thought, “I should write about Pancho.”  He deserves a great New York Times obit in the style of the legendary Robert McG. Thomas, Jr. Above the fold. With a photo. 
 
So I turn on the laptop and within moments, I can’t see the keyboard through the tears.
 
I doubt Robert McG. Thomas, Jr. had this problem…
 
It all went as well as it could have. A few weeks ago, he stopped eating, tests were run and steps taken and he started eating.  Then rinse and repeat four times—bad/good/bad/good until yesterday.  The cancer showed up on an ultrasound and his kidneys had failed and his little heart murmur was speaking up…He was dying.
 
His very kind and pretty veterinarian, Dr. Kim Rosenthal, called with the news and the options.  The options were too many and too invasive and he was too old.  At sixteen he wasn’t a candidate for this painful scenario.
 
I asked Dr. Rosenthal if she could make a house call.  I’m Old School when it comes to life’s ‘moments.’  I want them private.  I could not face the nice people in her office or the walk there and home. I could not face taking Pancho to the only place where he was unhappy or hurt—back on that metal examination table.  She was reluctant—it wasn’t the clinic’s policy, and she really didn’t do that.  Then she kindly agreed.  She said she’d come over between 4:00 and 5:00.
 
So at 4:00 Hermes and I sat on the sofa with Pancho in my arms, and we waited.  His breathing was labored. His little heart was weak.  I was under no delusions that it was me comforting him—it was him comforting me.
 
We were mostly quiet.  Only our wracked little breaths and my sniffles. 
 
Then he threw up on me.  A welcome diversion.  Hermes held him while I went to change shirts and have a cry in the bathroom. Then we three sat back down.
 
We had a wonderful quiet hour—an important hour orchestrated by Hermes, who has kept me calm throughout this ordeal (I can’t remember the time I’ve ever spent an hour sitting quietly… Never?),
 
At 5:00, Dr. R and her lovely nurse arrived.  Pancho and I were settled—him draped across my lap.  I stayed seated while Hermes brought them into the living room.  How uncomfortable for those two nice women.  Not knowing whether they were coming to a weird place with weird people. They were brave—I truly appreciate their effort.
 
The apartment was bright and I had lots of flowers around.  He was in his home on his sofa with his two daddies.  Our histrionics were restrained—my WASP-y silent tears streaming and Hermes’s elegant Cubano machismo.  We were quickly all comfortable as a little group with a purpose, and we began the work at hand.
 
One shot of Valium (I was jones-ing for that needle—I needed it as much as he did), and he was in The Land of Nod.  A couple of minutes later, another shot, and he was gone.  Just like that. Gone. His heart stopped, and his eyes closed. 
 
We wiped away the tears and said our goodbyes—me still sitting with him on my lap.  Both Doctor and Nurse were so lovely and kind.  The amount of time spent was perfect.  Neither perfunctory nor overwrought.  As they were leaving, I gave Dr. R. a copy of Pancho’s book, If Only You Knew How Much I Smell You, my last copy signed by the author Roy Blount, Jr. and the photographer Val Shaff.
 
The front door closed and the dikes opened.  Hermes sat back down, and I had a good long sob. 
 
Then Hermes and I got him settled, wrapped up in a nice clean towel and in a nice Gucci box (I knew there was a reason I bought that briefcase…) to go upstate to be buried.
 
So
 
I still can’t stop crying - but when I do, I’ll know my run with that little guy was extra long and extra good. 
 
I got him at a time in my life when things were difficult— ‘nough said on that front.  Having a little creature that needed me, that I could dote on, and that made me so happy was a wonderful gift.  Back in his youth, he really was a therapy dog—when I didn’t want to ruin Hermes’s day with my problems, I could whine or cry with Pancho, and he always cared. He was blessed with a face that always looked concerned…
 
He was a big part of my life—he brought me great pleasure.  He was happy and smart, friendly and low maintenance.  Portable—sort of like carrying a 12 pound canned ham around…the perfect accessory.
 
Admittedly, him being so handsome made me shamefully proud.  Yesterday as I was carrying him to the vet, a man stopped me and said “What a beauty!”—so at 16 and on his deathbed, he was handsome and ageless. 
 
Rural Intelligence Style
The brilliant Val Shaff launched his career.
  He could have been a remittance man but he chose a career.  As a model.  I know, I know—if anyone else said that I’d cringe. “Can’t he pursue something with more substance?”  But he brought a level of complexity to his work that transcended tacky catalog projects or runways.  He was more Muse than subject.  He was in the book I mentioned above. He was on a Hallmark birthday card.  He was the cover boy and Mr. February in a calendar.  His little face graced The New York Times, House and Garden, House Beautiful, Architectural Digest.  Always gracious, he only worked pro bono. 
 
Rural Intelligence Style Pancho and Mini-Pancho Everyone has a different canine connection.  A dog for the kids, an outside dog for the country, a substitute child…with us it was sort of a Mini Me thing—with him playing the Austin Powers role and me as Mini Me. 
 
Our connection was 24/7 for sixteen years.  He went to the office everyday.  He was employee of the month so many times, we just retired the award to him.  He was the best diversion.  Our office is no snake pit, but everyone needs a little comic relief.  Pancho ripping up fabric samples (exactly at 5:30 every day). Pancho’s birthday parties.  Pancho’s barking to get up on an architect’s chair to lie in the small of his back as he worked. (“Nyet, I do not mind.”  “See Hermes, Dimitri doesn’t mind.” “He does mind—he’s scared you’ll call the INS if he complains.”)  I think they liked him.  Four times a day a pretty woman or a handsome man took him for a little gambol to ‘check his messages’ from his canine acquaintances.
 
Rural Intelligence Style  Office Monitor – always diligent….
He was a big Country Dog in his little City Dog body.  He ranged far and wide, walking south to the convent (“Mr. Maloney, the little monkey is bothering our ducks again.”) and north to our neighbors (“Pancho’s here—we’re having bacon.”)  He chased the turkey and deer.  Barked at the hawk—and then always barked at The Colbert Report opening when the eagle screeches.  He wandered far-and-wide over 120 acres—and he always came home right at the moment when hysteria was building…
 
He loved to eat.  He would have eaten himself to death.  And he was, in his youth, remarkably nimble.  Friends who babysat him one Thanksgiving found him on the dining table, eating the turkey, and when confronted he calmly lifted his leg, peed on the centerpiece, and jumped to the floor (it was their fault—they shouldn’t have screamed at him).  On New Year’s Eve 2000, there he was, back on the dining table, chowing down on hundreds of dollars worth of foie gras, while sitting in a thousand dollars worth of caviar.  The hostess was following him around with a cracker by his butt…
 
He was so cute.
 
Rural Intelligence Style  Pancho tries on the De Niro tennis pavilion for size…
 
Of course, he slept in my bed.  For sixteen years, I grudgingly clung to my 20% of the bed surface while he commandeered the other 80%.  I’m trained to sleep very carefully—no thoughtless flipping around in bed with a chihuahua… One wrong turn and he’d be toast… His beds were legion.  He had a choice of electrically heated or sheepskin, Revillon mink or leopard velvet.  A 19th-century Indian chair and a summery wicker basket.  And that was just in town…
 
He dressed simply.  He was too handsome for gimmicks.  His rolled brown leather collars with nickel buckles were from Paris. I told him they were Hermes, but I lied. They were really from the BHV —sort of a Parisian Macy’s with a great pet supply department.  He wasn’t an easy fit—large chest and tiny waist (that apple didn’t fall far from the tree) so his vests were made by my mother’s sewing lady (how dated is that term?) in Texas—Ultrasuede that matched his coat perfectly with white piping for summer and orange for hunting season. 
 
Rural Intelligence Style  I swear this was not posed.  Someone looked out on the office terrace and there he was, warming his little bum in the potting soil.

He was fun for me—and I think I was fun for him. 
 
Well - - the two hours I’ve spent on this indeed have made me feel better.  He was my first dog as an adult, and we had a great and long run.  He joins a lovely pack of the other Maloney dogs from my youth—Penny, Gypsy, Butch, Bwana, and Angus. 
 
Sixteen very happy years that flew by…I hope he’s having fun, eating foie gras and chasing ducks.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 03/15/10 at 01:59 PM • Permalink