Farewell to Solo
Elizabeth (Betsy) Root with
Casa Strega's Solitary Man CD (Solo)
Picture taken October 2003
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My beloved Companion Dog, Solo, passed away on July 1st, 2004. My profound grief matches the intensity of the bond that united us. He was my significant other who made me look forward to each day with a glow solely attributed to his great presence. Both at home and at work there is an unaccustomed quietness, and a gaping hole is ever present. It is as though I am missing a vital limb. Welcome distractions inevitably yield again to the stabbing disbelief that such a precious union could so abruptly end. I came to believe we were invincible. So many challenges, even crises, and each time Solo would bounce back and each time my hope would soar. Yes, we will, after all, have more years. Once his sight comes back, everything will be normal. We will have those lively walks again. We will beat the odds. After all, small poodles live a long time.
It wasn't to be. I know the time will come when the overwhelming loneliness and sadness will recede to be replaced with the innumerable wonderful memories of Solo. I am comforted in the knowledge that we spent enough quality time together to fill up fifteen years of the usual dog lifetime. Solo was very people-oriented, from the first day I met him. He didn't have much use for other dogs. In puppy kindergarten he won the valedictorian award. I was the one who had to learn obedience training. Solo had all the smarts and was so eager to please. I was good enough to allow his talent to shine in the ring for his Companion Dog Obedience Title. Then Solo let me know that he really didn't enjoy showing off in the ring. He did all the exercises to earn the CDX, the next title, but not when it counted, in the ring. I took the cue and we went on to get certification in the Cornell Companions visitation program. We had some lovely visits with folks receiving care for Alzheimer's disease. This certification allowed me, finally, to convince the county legislature to allow Solo to come to work as my therapy dog. Now he found his real calling. He so loved everyone at the clinic, the children who came to our office, the adults in the waiting area, and the staff alike. He would greet everyone with wagging tail; he even smiled at people who were special to him. He was the icebreaker, the comforter for hurting kids and adults; he would snuggle up to those who wanted it. He had a way of knowing which children or adults were receptive to this sort of thing. He retrieved balls better for some of the kids than he ever did for me. He was famous for his high five greeting. He won over so many hearts and the love was reciprocal. It was a beautiful thing.
Solo loved to fly. He flew with me in the cabin of planes many times from coast to coast and points in between. He always evoked smiles in airports and exclamations of surprise that he would sit contentedly in his Sherpa bag, unrestrained, looking around at the activity and never trying to jump out while waiting for our next flight.
Other pet lovers have told me they know they are visited by their departed beloved ones. When someone so full of energy and goodness passes, I have wondered, where does all that energy go? One night I felt a wash over me of the essence of Solo. I was filled up with his love, his grace and his playfulness. It was bittersweet. Another day I awoke having had a vision of Solo's foreleg as if he were letting me know that it was OK, he would pass on the baton to my next companion, Leo, about whom I had been thinking. He doesn't want me to be so lonely. If he is watching over me, I hope it keeps him from being lonely too.
About Solo's illnesses.
Solo was diagnosed with Cushing's disease in October of 2001. It was accidentally discovered very early because what prompted the exam was Solo's uncharacteristic occasional wetting in the house. High protein levels were found in his urine, which eventually led to a diagnosis of low-grade kidney disease called protein-losing nephropathy. This was treated for the rest of his life with Enalapril, Aspirin and Derm Caps. The medication, Lysodren, did not work for Cushing's nor did other standard remedies. Finally I sent to the United Kingdom for Trilostane, a drug not available in the U.S.A., which is also safer than Lysodren in that it does not destroy cells of the adrenal glands. Then in October of 2003 Solo developed symptoms and was diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus. He was treated with injections of human insulin. It took many trials to get him managed, but finally he stabilized. Earlier this year Solo started growing cataracts (typical in canine diabetes) and eventually became totally blind. In June he underwent surgery to recover his sight. It was to be a slow recovery, sight returning gradually. Solo came through the surgery just fine, but two weeks later his kidneys failed. On his final day his eyes opened wide and clear as ever and we spent our last hours together looking into each other's eyes as we said our heartbreaking good-byes. He was euthanized at home.
Betsy Root July 2004
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(type in Cushing's in blank for "diseases.") Also go to
The latter mentions the drug Trilostane. To obtain Trilostane, go to
This site is recommended by Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine where Solo was treated.
Human insulin is less compatible with a dog's metabolic system than the preferred pork insulin. Pork insulin has not been available in the USA. However, the company, Intervet, Inc. promises to have it available in the near future and has a waiting list for canines for when it becomes available. For this, go to http://www.intervetusa.com/
type in "insulin" and Vetsulin will come up. Click on this.
I know you are watching us from Rainbow Bridge. We will depend on your approval and guidance as our guardian angel. I know I will never replace you, but I will try my best to fill the big gapping hole you're absence has left in so many lives. Your great nephew Leo.
Betsy visiting with Solo's Sir Leonardo di Casa Strega (at 3 weeks)