We said goodbye to our little girl, this morning. A tearful, gut-wrenching goodbye.

We’re not sure when Cybil Shepherd Dineen Martorano was born, but she adopted us on September 9, 2003. She was maybe a year old.

She had been picked up as a stray, was underweight, and we completely missed her the first time we walked through the Chester County SPCA. She was curled up in a ball in the back of her cage – shivering. The most pathetic thing you had ever seen in your life.

We brought her outside to a little meet-and-greet area they have. Victor had her on a leash and he sat on a bench. I sat on the curb directly across from them. She came over, laid her head in my lap, and that was that. We filled out the adoption papers and she came home.


The next 11 1/2 years were full of fun and adventure. She traveled all over with us and was even Best Dog at our wedding. For 11 1/2 years she was an integral part of our lives. Spoiled rotten on the one hand, but the most gentle, loving, and giving dog on the planet.

Somehow, that scrawny runt we brought home that day got old. Well… her body got old. Mentally, she was still a puppy – and that was the most difficult part for us to deal with. She wanted to run in the snow, chase rabbits, and jump into the car to go for a ride, but her body just said no. We didn’t notice much of a change, at first – heck, we don’t run in the snow as fast as we used to, either – but we started catching on when she wasn’t all that excited about going for a ride in the car. It had been just about her favorite thing to do and would get all wound up when you just mentioned the word car. It was getting more difficult for her to jump into the back seat and she was a smart dog.

We called her Parnelli Puppy because she was f-a-s-t. The dog could run like a banshee. As the years went on, she’d still get up speed, but it wasn’t as fast and it wasn’t sustained. I can totally relate. She was happy to watch the rabbits – and bark like hell at them – and save the running for romps in the front yard – or over to our neighbor, Neil, who would get down on the grass and wrestle with her. As I said, she was a smart dog.

And then, this past summer, Victor noticed a huge increase in her water intake. We took her to the Vet and found out she had renal failure and was running on about 25% of her kidneys. They prescribed a renal diet that she refused to eat. Our dog – the dog who would eat anything and everything – stopped eating. She was listless and lethargic. We though the time had come. So… the Vet said go ahead and cook for her. I worked in Nutrition and Dietetics. I wrote renal diets. We moved her bowls from the kitchen into the living room so she would have better – and safer – access to her food and water. It had the double bonus of giving Nonna more room to get by in her walker. Piece of cake.

For a month or so, it was. She ate everything I made. And then she stopped eating it, as well. Lazarus had risen from the grave only to slide back down, again. And, she had a noticeable limp, favoring her right hindquarter. Back to the Vet and not an overly-optimistic prognosis. I brought home some canned dog food from work – and she scarfed it up. She started getting feisty, again, started getting active, again. Started scooching us like she used to do. Lazarus had risen, yet, again.

Her kidneys seemed to level out, but her legs got worse. She started avoiding anything but carpeted floors because she would lose her balance. I have to tell you that it’s actually kinda funny to see a dog just kinda plop over the first time you see it. It gets painful to see on a regular basis.

And then the day came when she couldn’t get back up, yet she dragged herself outside to pee, because she refused to pee in the house. But she couldn’t get herself back in over the threshold without help.

The Vet had told us that Cybil would let us know when it was time to go. And she told us, this morning. We were with her and held her as she went to sleep – to dream of chasing rabbits and burrowing in the snow.

There is a hole in my heart that cannot be described, yet, my heart is so full of the love she gave us for so many years.

Dammit, I miss you, Cybil Shepherd.