Our faithful companion, Chloe, a.k.a. Clos Vougeot, left this world about three weeks ago. I haven’t been able to sit down to write this farewell until this week. The emotions were just too raw and too painful, but with a little passage of time, the pain is a little less acute. I’m slowly coming around to a place where I can remember her presence with a deep fondness without tears coming to my eyes. And, I can appreciate that the loneliness my wife and I feel without her around is testimony to how much we loved her and how much a part of our lives she was every day.
Longtime readers of Cigar Aficionado will remember her, a beautiful, jet-black Belgian Sheepdog. She and I were photographed along with Marvin Shanken’s Wheaten Terrier Christina for the editor’s page in an issue that launched a re-design of Cigar Aficionado magazine in June 2000. She was just two and a half years old at the time and if it looked like I had a virtual hammerlock on her in the photos, I did; it was hard to keep her in one place for any length of time. That remained true for nearly her entire life.
Then, two months ago, she woke up one morning and was unable to get to her feet. I helped her up, and within a couple of days that had turned into me carrying her downstairs every morning and back up every night. The world of advanced veterinary science did everything it knew how to do, at each turn of the diagnostic wheel, eliminating possible causes and coming up with potential treatments. As any dog owner knows, it’s tough; they can’t talk to you to tell what hurts or what’s wrong. Our vet, Dr. Brian Green, was fantastic, holding out hope and optimism at every step, but always with a cautionary note that we might be facing a tough decision. The diagnosis finally came—polymyositis, an autoimmune syndrome that, in Chloe’s case, was attacking her muscles. Even then there were treatments that worked for most dogs. Unfortunately, for her, nothing did.
We will miss her shepherd’s instincts, her raucous barking at the attempted departure from the house of any member of the flock, a family member or not; her patient lurking waiting to raid the trash in search of Kleenex, or better yet, an uneaten piece of our Friday night pizza; or the fact that she was never very far away from either of us, wherever we were in the house. I even think she loved my cigars because she knew when I lit up on the patio, I wasn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
Her ghost will be felt in our house for a long time.
Rest in peace, Chloe.