As many of you know, my dear guide dog Igor passed away very suddenly last September. I knew almost immediately that I had to make some good come out of this terrible loss, so I decided to raise funds for the Animal Medical Center, which did so much for him throughout his short life and so much for both of us during his last few days. Then, less than a month later, I received news that my first Guide Dog, wonderful Millennium, also passed on, and The Igor and Millennium Guide Dog Fund was born!
If you have already given, thanks so much!
If you have not yet given, please know that every little bit counts…
The Frank Lloyd Guide Dog Fund at The Animal Medical Center in New York City provides routine and emergency care to guide dogs, free of charge. The fund is always giving out more than it receives,
Please help us keep this vital service going in loving memory of:
Igor GuideDog (2009-2013) & Millennium I (1999-2013)
These are our stories…
Igor was an amazing dog in his smartness and sweetness. He was one of those rare creatures who comes into the world beautiful and leaves it beautiful. He did not degenerate like the rest of us. My dear friend Artemis suggested that he was my bodhisattva, a creature of light who suffered this life in order to teach me and then was released into the energy of the universe. We only had two years together and still it is hard for me to imagine another guide dog in my future. But, as many of you know, he did have a predecessor…
Wonderful Millennium, my first guide dog, also passed away this fall in the arms of his little mistress Isabel. He was just shy of his fourteenth birthday. When he was no longer up to the task of running me around the streets of New York City, I gave him into the arms of an adorable family full of love and kids and chickens. Millennium and I had worked and played together for over 9 years. We went to Europe once, California many times, Memphis, Maine, Florida, countless shows, lectures, teaching gigs, performance gigs, bars, restaurants, etc.! When I was paired with him in 2001, I was just starting to lose my vision to such an extent that I found it hard to get around. Having him with me expanded my world immediately and profoundly. We had so much fun together. He helped me to establish the life and many of the friendships I have now.
Millennium was very rarely sick. He had a hearty constitution on the inside, though he was a bit of a princess on the out. (He loved soft beds, cookies and wearing pearls!) Still we very much appreciated the yearly checkups, keeping shots up to date, and occasional small emergency visits that were all covered by AMC’s Guide Dog Fund. Though they were both bred and trained to be guide dogs at The Seeing Eye, Igor & Millennium were as different as two dogs can be. And, because I went from being a visually impaired person to being a blind person during my years with them, my relationship with each was a totally different experience.
Igor was a rock on the outside. He would always lie in the middle of the floor, and would not so much as lift his head in rebuke when mommy tripped over him, which happened, I’m sorry to say, rather often! Igor was a goof at home and super focused on the job. He loved his SqueakYourBall, and he sure could catch — even wild mommy throws! Igor pulled mommy around like she was a rag doll. He was so strong on the outside, so imposing. Often teenage boys would jump out of our way announcing into their hands “Wolf! Wolf!” But on the inside Igor was fragile. He was allergic to 26 different environmental substances, from smoke to grasses to things that slough off humans– Yep, my dog was allergic to people!
As I’ve tried to make sense of the death of the young and seemingly healthy Igor, I can only think of it this way: for Igor, life was a drug that delivered a punch for every high. In the first month that we were together, he developed a giant nasty lip blister from his beloved Kong toy. That brought us our first course of antibiotics, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial drugs of what would eventually amount to perhaps twenty such courses in just two years. He had countless ear infections and terrible skin blowouts. He was allergic to chicken which he loved. Every time we would go play in a park or in our friends’ backyards he was pummeled by his system.
In his last few months, with the help of Dr. Macina and Dr. Palma, it seemed we had finally gotten his allergies under control. We would visit AMC every Sunday morning to get his allergy shot. Igor was also on some pretty serious steroids that we were hoping to wean him off of this fall. He was looking so beautiful — a super model dog, a prince as Igor’s buddy Benjamin said– but I believe that inside, his little system was perhaps being pushed to its limits.
Though the doctors at AMC tried everything, they do not really understand what happened to complicate a relatively routine surgery to the point where his internal workings fell apart. They all knew him and loved him and were deeply upset by their inability to save him. Because of the Guide Dog Fund, I was relieved of the burden of making any medical decisions based on finances, so I know that everything that could have been done to save Igor was done. Besides offering routine vet services, AMC is also a research hospital, which gives me hope that they also will learn something from Igor.
Please help AMC keep the guide dogs of New York City healthy so they can continue to live and work happily with their people companions, who need and love them!