Foley VanDemark

Flim Flam Foley (4/12/09-1/26/17)

Foley was the best failure of my life.

I had just graduated college, and everyone told me I wouldn’t want the responsibility that came with living alone, being young, and having my own dog. I was absolutely still brokenhearted from the loss of my first hound (Grey’s Lite Shoes) two and a half months prior, and there was a distinct horrible black hole in my life without a dog. However, I promised to take the advice of those who advised me not to get my own dog, and decided instead to foster a Greyhound.

The moment that Foley leapt out of the transport truck, I fell for him and that fostering plan fell to pieces. I signed his adoption papers the next day. A big, gorgeous fawn with the most soulful eyes and a strange brindle tail- there was no turning back once he entered my life. I don’t regret for a single second taking the chance with him.

The first year or two were interesting- he proved to be not only not cat-safe but also not ‘anything-safe’ if the ‘anything’ was under about 40 lbs. He squeaked incessantly, tried to eat every small dog in the neighborhood, and had to be walked rapidly up hills on a fairly regular basis to be brought down to a manageable energy level… and yet, he was my beloved and constant companion, and quickly became my squeaky, silly shadow. Even when he made me want to pull all my hair out, one look from those beautiful brown eyes and he was forgiven for whatever shenanigans he had gotten into that day.

Things were always done on Foley’s time and the way he wanted them- and what I wouldn’t do for more years of service to that crazy hound. In return, though, he tolerated everything- endless sobbing into his soft fur, eight different moves (including one cross-country… and back), and my own struggles. He was the singular constant through quite a few very rough years. He was the life preserver that kept me afloat and alive after an abusive relationship and devastating depression, and I owe more to him than I think I ever realized at the time. He brought so many smiles in such dark times- his cockroaching, his kleptomaniac tendencies, the tongue that seemed to always be falling out of the side of his mouth, his hilarious albeit occasionally maddening testing of boundaries… he wasn’t allowed in the kitchen due to his penchant for getting into everything sharp and/or hot and/or dangerous, and he knew it- so he liked to put his front feet in said kitchen and stare at me with a huge doggy smile on his face.

Things started to go wrong for Foley at the beginning of 2016. He had nearly constant gastrointestinal issues and couldn’t keep weight on. It took endless testing and six months to get a diagnosis just after his seventh birthday- intestinal lymphoma. Soon after that shattering blow, I adopted my second Grey- KJO Jojo. Foley ‘supposedly’ only had a matter of months- if that- after the early summer diagnosis… but as soon as Jojo came home, things changed. Foley and Jojo immediately became inseparable- two peas in a pod. Foley’s squeaking finally ceased, he gained back 17 lbs, and despite being a chemo non-responder, he bounced back. It was unbelievable, but again- everything was done on Foley’s time, including, it seemed, his illness. Foley’s new brother was a reason for him to stay- he had to teach Jojo all of his silly tricks and show him the ways of the world!

Foley’s health started to go downhill again in December 2016. I had to have my third hip surgery around that point, and thought I would have lost Foley far before then- but he learned how to avoid my clumsy crutching and, despite really slowing down, followed me around every time I got up to crutch over and get an ice pack, planted himself next to the couch all day as I healed, and nearly had his nose taken off by the wheels of my stationary bike multiple times as he demanded to be as close as possible to me while I was doing rehab on it. I had been told that Foley was going to go months before that, but nope- he had helped Jojo, and now it was my turn- he was going to stick around to make sure I was alright, cancer be darned. His selflessness, generous and unending love, and pure stubbornness will inspire me forever. As soon as I came off crutches, he quickly signaled that it was finally his time to go. I was ok, and so he was ready. He had hung on and stayed in this world for as long as he could, but he was ready.

His passing was peaceful and, in many ways, hilarious- so fitting for his character. He took his last breaths surrounded by those he loved giving him pets and kisses and with his happy face in a bowl full of beef stew. After having been put (for his cancer) on a fat-free, vegan diet, he was beyond thrilled to have had delicious meaty treats all morning until we got to the vet, and his last moments were certainly some of his happiest. At seven, he should have had so many more years, but he filled the years that he did spend on this Earth as much personality and trouble- and love- as any dog could have. I have his pawprint done as a tattoo- his spirit will live on and always be here.

Goodbye, my sweet boy. May you rest in peace. Thank you beyond words for everything you did and for all that you were.

-Paige VanDeMark

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