Every being deserves an obituary. Here is ours to Patchen.
Our sweet Patchen dog passed away sometime early Saturday morning March 7, 2015.
We adopted from the Fayetteville Animal Shelter in 2003 when she was between 5 and 7 years old. I’d adopted Elsie in 2002, and she changed my life. I was so inspired by my life with a rescue dog that I started volunteering at the shelter in the hopes of helping other dogs find forever homes. While doing volunteer work at the shelter I met Patchen and her cage mate Luna. Patchen seemed timid, quiet, and distant. Bryan decided she was the dog for us and he adopted her in October of 2003. Our landlord, Marcia, adopted her cage mate, Luna.
Bryan adopted Patchen shortly before we were married in November of the same year. He named her in honor of the author and artist, Kenneth Patchen. For a short time Patchen lived with Marcia before settling into our house with Elsie and Chat (Orwell and Buddy James would come later). Not much is known about Patchen’s life before the shelter. She was listed as an owner relinquish and we know she was terribly skinny and a little distrusting of people. Soon after coming home, however, she put on weight, grew A LOT of wiry hair, and became the most people-loving dog around. It took a while for her to bond with Elsie, but once they were close they became inseparable.
We took Elsie and Patchen to dog training classes where they both excelled. Recognizing that Patchen had a uniquely calm and loving temperament, in 2004 I started training Patchen to become a therapy dog. We trained for many months and she passed her test with flying colors. She was certified through Therapy Dog International and we volunteered at the Fayetteville Nursing Home where Patchen loved to go visit with the residents and sit calmly to be petted. Around the same time period I started serving as an assistant in dog training classes at Canine Connection and both Elsie and Patchen worked as what is often referred to as “demo dogs” where they helped to show other dogs and their owners basic commands.
Patchen also patiently served as the doggy matron of the house while Bryan and I fostered multiple dogs for the Fayetteville Animal Shelter, helping to acclimate the dogs and prepare them for suitable homes. She shared her home with Alice, Eddie, Annabelle, Yarrow, and Fred, all of whom went on to permanent homes. She also helped my late mother’s dog learn how to be near other dogs. She got to travel to many places for a dog—all around Arkansas and Kentucky, to Missouri and Oklahoma.
She also was adept at singing, giving high-fives (tens, actually,) and held only one grudge in her life against our recently passed elderly cat, Chat.
In 2009 when George and Elijah were born she took on the role of protecting new family members. She grew to love the boys, especially when she realized just how much food they dropped from their plates. In recent months she realized that our youngest child, Pearly, could also drop food from her chair, thus making Patchen’s last days particularly exciting.
In December of 2013 Patchen was diagnosed with cancer and heart disease. We were told she probably only had a few weeks or months left to live. Yet Patchen carried on a year and a half beyond that diagnosis, tail wagging and always looking for a treat. In the last year she slowed down quite a bit, but she never lost her love for treats and the opportunity to greet visitors at the door. Every now and again she still enjoyed a short walk or trip to the park. She especially loved visits from Auntie Rachel Townsend and our friend Alex Handfinger, both of whom kept her when we had to go out of town.
Patchen loved food (all food, all the time), chasing squirrels, sitting calmly to be petted, sitting on the couch with her legs crossed sniffing things, and every person she ever met anywhere at anytime. We are certain she never saw herself as a dog but rather a family matriarch in charge of providing love, oversight, and vacuuming up after the messy children whom she looked after. In her last days her favorite things to do included sitting on the porch to smell the air, sitting on the couch to sleep the afternoon away, and sitting under the kitchen table to be rubbed by our feet and wait for someone to slip her some cheese.
Her last day was wonderfully uneventful. We had no idea it was her last. She spent the day home with myself and the three children. I remember her excitedly sitting near Pearly as she ate dropped pieces of a baked potato. It had just been a few days before that Pearly had learned to sit at the table, something Patchen was visibly excited about. She had a nice full dinner Friday evening, including potato and cheese from Pearly’s plate, sat on the couch with the boys, hung out with Bryan for lots of love, and died peacefully sometime in the early Saturday morning hours. She passed away in her sleep at one of her favorite spots at the foot of our bed. She was around 17 or 18 years old.
We love you, Mrs. Patchen. Goodbye, girl. We will remember you forever. You were, and always will be, a therapy dog to us all.