I first laid eyes on Fiona in August 2000 in Los Polvorines, Argentina outside of Buenos Aires. I was arriving at my weekly horseback riding lesson and found 3 very small puppies running around the stables. I was told they had been thrown over the wall into our gated community the night before and asked if I wanted one. I declined. By the next week, two of the puppies had been adopted (and later died, I heard) and just the last scrawny, goofy black one was sent to live in the Maintenance area where she would supposedly be fed.
Some time later, I was volunteering on the recycling committee and each week I dropped off the recycling to Maintenance. Each time I went, the little black puppy came out to greet me. She looked starving. I started bringing her cat food, then I brought some dog food and asked the guys to feed her everyday. They didn’t. Her hair began to fall out and she had huge bald spots everywhere. One day the black puppy approached me when I arrived and could no longer walk on her front paws. I went home, got a cat carrier and went to fetch her. I took her to the local vet to have her put down since no one cared for her and I couldn’t take it any more. The vet asked me if she was my dog and I replied no. She said it is illegal in Argentina to euthanize a pet which is not one’s own. She suggested that the puppy was malnourished, needed some medication for her mange and she would be fit as a fiddle. “Why don’t you take her home and feed her for a few weeks? I know a woman who takes stray dogs in if they are healthy.”
So I took her home. Bob was horrified when he saw her. He thought she was a large rat. She was Abby’s sister and quickly befriended 2 of our cats Beast and Simba. I never gave her to the woman who took in stray dogs. And she became ours.
Fiona was a smart little bugger. She could open most doors with any type of door handle. She had terrible separation anxiety. At first spoiled by having a maid 6 days a week, Fiona rarely needed to be alone. Bob learned to love her and she played ball better than anyone else in the family.
Only a half a year later, we moved back to Oakland and brought our brood with us. Our Argentine neighbors were stunned. Why would we bring the ugly black street dog home with us? She was the luckiest dog in the world. Should have named her Evita.
Fiona barked more than most dogs and was an excellent guard dog. She traumatized countless dogs and their owners all over the East Bay Regional Park system. She finally relaxed a little at age 5 or 6. Still barked at every neighbor walking by our backyard until she went deaf about a year ago.
She spent the last 5 months with my mother at our house in Lafayette. We got to see her several times as we visited often. Even though she wasn’t with us in Shanghai, tonight I dropped some cheese on the floor and then looked for her to clean it up.