Kireisa's Phantom Pandamonium
March 26, 1999 - November 19, 2011
There is a new star shining in the northern hemisphere tonight. Our beloved Panda crossed the Rainbow Bridge yesterday. He was 12 years, 7-1/2 months old.
He was a Darq Wolf son, and from the minute he was born, he let us know that he was special. His white face, with black patches on his ears and one
cheek, earned him his name "Panda". Despite the lack of a black mask, as he grew, his structure and presence could not be denied. He was the
unanimous "first pick" of several breeders who evaluated his litter, and as an adult, he was Magnificent! Strong and proud, with undeniable presence
and flawless, powerful movement, he truly was a King of Akitas. His only fault, and the reason he never became a champion in the official sense of
the word, was a dropped ear. We tried the usual taping procedure as a puppy, but for some reason when the first attempt failed, we did not
persevere, and the ear never stood. It became a trademark part of his character and his charm.
Panda could play the clown with the family he loved. He and I would "dance" together - he would do anything for a cookie, and, holding a biscuit in my
hands, with the kennel radio playing a favourite song, I'd do a little dance pattern and he'd follow me, step for step, his eyes bright and eager,
circling around me as I turned, stepping forwards, backwards, and even sidestepping, in perfect time with my movements. Another favourite game was "Catch the Cookie", where he learned to sit perfectly still while I balanced a biscuit on his nose, and, at my command, he would flip the cookie high
into the air and then catch his reward on its way down. He never tired of showing off this trick to guests and visitors.
Panda's huge bark was more than intimidating; it shook the walls and rattled the windows of our home. I eventually taught him "Big Woof" and "Little
Woof", as his enthusiastic "Big Woof", which he voiced to insist that, as "The King," he was to be fed before all others, was quite deafening in close
He was vibrant and active, still jumping up and running in the paddock well into his 11th year. But in the last few months, Panda gradually started to
show his age, losing some weight, but not his appetite. About six weeks ago, he had a "down day"; he was a bit lethargic and did not jump up to
greet us. That was the turning point, and he steadily declined after that. We began to cook for him - whatever he wanted to eat, but it soon became
increasingly difficult to predict what would appeal to his palate. We willingly (and maybe a little desperately) continued to try new things and
considered mealtime a success if he ate a handful of food once or twice a day; we were ecstatic if he consumed an entire serving.
On Monday of last week, I noticed that Panda's testicles seemed swollen. Sure enough, one of them had a hard lump within, and this lump grew daily.
By Thursday, the skin was tight, and starting to ooze serous fluid. We knew we had to make The Decision. Saturday afternoon arrived far too quickly,
but Panda enjoyed the drive, breathing the country smells through the windows on a warm November day. After the first calming injection, he
became sleepy, his head growing heavy in my hands. He left us shortly after that, peacefully, breathing deeply, until his last breath. Today also would have been my dear father's birthday, were he still alive. Somehow the coincidence of dates cannot be ignored -- it is from my father that I have inherited my love for dogs and all creatures great and small. I know that he and Panda are now side by side, along with the rest of our Akitas and my father's dogs, across the Rainbow Bridge.
Godspeed, Panda. You brought so much joy and love into our lives, and I was and will always be so proud of you. You were, and always will be, the epitome of what an Akita should be – strong and brave, yet gentle; dignified and proud, yet loving and playful; loyal and devoted. You will live on forever deep within my heart, and through your son and grandchildren here at Kireisa.
November 19, 2011