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Dear Readers: It is with deep sadness that I must tell you that The Pig has died. My Muse is no more!

Her beagle hair remains all through my house, her bucket of homemade chicken soup is in the fridge, waiting for her to come running through the door, skidding as she rounds the corner into the kitchen, ready for Grandma’s hugs and food (if I’m honest, the food comes first.) But she won’t be doing that anymore. Some of you may remember when Poochie died over 4 years ago. I cried a lot. I still miss her. I know I will do the same for The Pig. Although, technically, she belonged to L’il Sis, she was truly the family dog.

The Pig was 11 years old and was a fighter. As a rescue dog, I suppose she learned that early on. More than two years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer of the spleen. We had it taken out and she was given a prognosis of two months to live. She recovered and thrived, returning to the bunny-hunting, chipmunk-chasing free spirit that defined her being. She always wanted to go for walks, to the parks and conservation areas, to our ‘Cedar Pond’ property to pull apart beaver dams, roll in all things foul, and wade into the water. Most of all, she loved to eat. Anything and everything — from our table scraps (including her favorite, ‘salmon disgustings’) to the garbage to bones.

She revived from other health scares — each time the vet being amazed at her stamina. She was truly a miracle. Forget cats with 9 lives.The Pig could outdo them all and still keep ticking.

She had a larger-than-life personality, as witnessed by her spectacular performance during our Christmas family outing to the Sears portrait studio. We skulked with her through the men’s department, defying all the rules, watching as she took charge of the appointment, proving herself to be the most amenable and photogenic one of the lot of us. The essay I wrote about that day appeared in The Globe and Mail with a wonderful drawing of her draped in queenly robes. And she was Our Queen.

She was also, at times, a jerk — but a clever jerk. She could bypass any barrier put up to stop her, she could open most cupboards and even some fridges. She snored like a freight train, hogged the bed (and sometimes the pillow) when she and L’il Sis slept together. She loved people — but other dogs, not so much. She demanded to be the star. She tolerated them but wasn’t the playful kind. Maybe it was partly old age. I can identify with that.

In the past few months, she battled a heart condition. More meds were added to her kibble. But we saw the writing on the wall. We knew she wouldn’t be with us much longer. She, of course, didn’t know that and she still wanted to hunt those bunnies and do all the things she always had. Her heart had different ideas.

And so, the end of the line came for her enlarged heart. As L’il Sis said, just like The Grinch in the Dr. Seuss story, her heart grew to twice its normal size. As a medical issue, that was bad. But, in terms of the joy she gave to everyone who knew and adored her, her heart enlarged simply because it had to  — to contain all the love she felt and the companionship she gave.

Sleep well, my little beagle muse! You will be missed.