My name was Penny.
I’m not sure where I am now, but for some reason I don’t mind. I was in pain, but now I don’t feel any pain at all. My legs ached, and my belly hurt so bad I could barely stand it, and I couldn’t eat at all. Now all of that is gone.
The last thing I remember is getting a big hug and a kiss from the Leader. I will always remember the loving look on her face and how good that hug and kiss made me feel. Then I closed my eyes because I was sleepy, and the pain was gone. Everything was gone. And I moved on to this new place.
I will miss the Leader, and Kasey, and the Young Masters who played with me and gave me treats. I will even miss the old boring guy. Poor Kasey will have to keep an eye on him now. I hope that I will meet up with them all again some time. But for now I feel happy and contented, like I’ve just eaten the best meal I’ve ever had. I feel warm, like a puppy in the sunshine, and protected, like I am still nestled against my mother’s fur. I think I may find her here.
I am in a good place now, and I feel like I am moving and heading in some direction that will be even better. I am eager to find out.
I’m saddened to report that we lost Penny today. Her departure leaves a hole in the family and a gap at the top of the stairs where she liked to plop down and survey her domain.
Ultimately, a rapidly growing liver tumor got Penny, but she was a dog that always seemed bedeviled by physical problems. She had arthritis in her legs, battled inflamed intestines, and was prone to ear infections. We knew we had reached the point of no return when Penny’s primary raison d’etre — eating as much as possible as quickly as possible — stopped working for her. At the end, she couldn’t keep food down at all, and when that happens to a Lab you know their time has come.
We got Penny when she was just a puppy. Richard chose the name Penny because as a young dog Penny was copper-colored. Her family nicknames were Pen Pal and Lug Nut. She always had a quizzical expression on her face that made me chuckle, and she was a loving and affectionate creature. For Penny, life was like The Simpsons song: a stranger was just a friend Penny hadn’t met. She never let her ailments get her down.
Penny was not an active dog; unlike our prior dog Dusty Penny didn’t like to run, or play fetch, or swim. No, Penny’s interests lay more in just being a part of the family. Next to eating, Penny liked nothing more than sitting on the couch to watch some TV and getting a hug from Kish now and then. She followed Kish around the house like the children followed the Pied Piper and grew anxious if Kish was out of sight, even if only for a minute or two. When Kish came back it was like Christmas and the Fourth of July rolled into one.
Penny was well-trained until her illness caused her training to fail her, and she was dutiful and faithful to the very end. That makes her a good dog in my book, and we’ll miss her.
The downfall, many problems, and staggering challenges of Detroit have been abundantly chronicled, here and elsewhere. During our visits to Cranbrook, in the Motor City’s metropolitan area, Kish and I have been awed by the magnitude of Detroit’s predicament. With entire neighborhoods falling apart, acres of rubble where once there were productive, tax-paying employers, and burned out and abandoned houses and derelict commercial buildings and former factories around every corner, where do you start?
It seems clear that local government can’t lead the recovery process. The task is too overwhelming, and the city of Detroit simply doesn’t have the money or the manpower. If there is going to be a renaissance of sorts, it will be led by by individuals who are willing to commit, invest their own money and sweat equity, and take the personal and financial risks that inevitably come with being the first in on the urban renewal effort.
Russell has decided to become part of this risk-taking process. He’s leased studio space in a gritty building in Highland Park, one of the Detroit neighborhoods that is struggling to recover. His studio is in what was a manager’s office of a formerly abandoned industrial building that once was home to squatters. The factory was purchased by a sculptor from New Zealand named Robert Onnes, who saw artistic opportunity in the building’s high ceilings, open spaces, and many windows. Onnes will be using some of the vast interior space as his metal-working studio, and now Russell and some of his Cranbrook classmates are also part of the vanguard.
The building is very much a work in progress, with lots of work to be done in improved weatherproofing and power supply among many other issues, but a look at what it was when it was first acquired shows that it has made progress already. When we moved some of Russell’s materials in to his space over the weekend, the owner was there supervising work on the building. Russell and the other can-do artists no doubt will be supplying some elbow grease to improve their studio spaces, too.
It’s just one building in a vast and deeply troubled urban area — but perhaps it’s a start.