Io and Halla


Father and daughter, as alike as two peas in a pod, in character, appearance and temperament. Io on the right, and Halla on the left.

A Tribute to Io – The First Stonedance Bergamasco

The first part of 2009 brought about another entirely unexpected development. It was Io, who had never been sick a day in his life. The noticeable increase for needing to go outside immediately and a definite lack of spark in his normally positive, steadfast approach to life were definitely not in character. Moving about seemed cumbersome and such things as getting into the van, or onto the deck, with its three small steps, appeared to take considerable effort. The diagnosis was sudden onset of chronic kidney failure.

There are no new words that can express how I felt so I will not even bother. My brain refused to process the entirety and kept my body busy by researching and researching diets which were natural and kind to faltering kidney function. For a while this worked well, with plenty of quiet walks where he could be himself undisturbed. But progression of this disease is not long halted no matter the courage or good intentions.

The decreasing abilities of Io’s system created other issues that inhibited his ability to chew food and swallow as before. Much time was spent in the kitchen preparing ‘ blender meals’ which he was able to lap at gently. One very positive discovery was to mash up fresh comfrey leaves (a blender really is a wonderful thing and I had a mammoth comfrey take up a major portion of my front yard) wrap in gauze and apply to the sores that were developing in his mouth, which seemed to soothe remarkably well. I am a firm believer in holistic practices. He also found relief in the saline drip solution which I gave him several times daily to lighten the load already heavy on his kidneys.

Sooner than wanted, there came the time, however, when I could not ignore what I really saw as opposed to what I desperately wanted to see. The progress of a situation such as this is, relentless, as the body consumes much more energy, placing a huge load on the system.

While I may not have had the eyes I should have been seeing with, Io had not a doubt. I took him to a favourite spot on a favourite stretch of very remote beach, where he normally wandered around the sandy shoreline, investigating driftwood, the big rocks sticking out of the dunes or other such fun curiosities. At one point, he had walked out to an outcropping boulder in the water some distance from the shoreline. It was a beautiful early summer day and as I watched in helpless laughter, the more Io walked to this stone, the more his felted coat came up, lightly floating about him, like some very bizarre halo. It was as though he had become the MerDog for this beach and actually perched quite dignified on this erratic…

I have seldom seen such a pleasure of all things coming together on his face. He had a wonderful “geez I’m happy” moment. This time, this last time, he walked and walked and walked, straight ahead as if to show me where he could find his peace, as he loved this stretch and silly human me, finally saw his picture. He stopped and turned… and looked at me and I looked at him. And arranged, in mutual arrangement, to help him find the peace he so wanted and deserved. He is always with us and always in my heart.