Fiona is by far, the worst dog I have ever had the privilege of knowing and owning. You know the book ‘Marley and Me’? Well, Fiona was like the adorable petite, dalmatian version of Marley, on steroids. One time she jumped on the counter when Tom and I were living with his aunt and uncle and ate NINE raw chicken breasts that were thawing for dinner. She didn’t even get diarrhea from it. (Or show remorse of any kind). Another time, while finishing college she got into my paints for my art class and ate them all and chewed up my canvases and pictures. I came home to a spotted dog who was now green. And so was the floor, bed, sofa…everything was green. Including her poop for the next week. Another time I set up this cute advent calendar that I hung on the wall in our dining room at eye level that had a hershey kiss held up by a magnet for each day. That day, December 1st, I came home and immediately blamed Tom for eating all of the hershey kisses. He adamantly denied it, and we figured out that the wiley little she-devil had jumped up 25 times and snatched them one by one, leaving all of the magnets behind, barely disturbed. She then pooped out tin foil for the next week.
Fiona came to me when I was finishing college. A client at the practice where I worked called because they had purchased this adorable pure-bred Dalmatian puppy from a breeder, and she was now overwhelmed. Fiona (who’s name was Star back then), was about 4 months old and was a monster – she stole food out of the hands of the toddlers in the home, and jumped on counters, and was living in a crate 90% of the time. She needed a new home, desperately. I agreed to foster her and was by no means looking for a second dog – Tom and I were living in his aunt and uncle’s basement while I was finishing college, and already had Harley and they had 2 dogs of their own. After a few weeks of working with her, a client of the practice where I worked who had Dalmatians was interested in her and took her on a trial basis. Their older male was not accepting at all, and was going after her in the home, so once she came back I knew she had to stay.
Fiona was so challenging. I have to admit though, she was amazing with people – kind, gentle with babies, and so friendly. She was the best dog for little kids climbing all over her for dog demos related to being a vet. Fiona was not amazing, however, with other dogs. To put it bluntly, she was a huge jerk. In any other home she would have just had to be an only dog. But in our home, I was so stubborn about still fostering and once we started Harleys haven we almost always have a foster dog, so she just had to get over it. We had a very specific way we introduced her to new friends. It had to be outside, on a leash, lots of reminders to be nice…and she would still often attack them. I would say about 40% of the time. Just one quick attack, to remind them she was boss. Once new dogs settled in though, she was awesome with the puppies especially, and so tolerant.
She often made me sad with how much of a murderer she was. I probably can’t even count how many woodland critters fell at her hands. So many baby bunnies, a few birds and groundhogs, and at least one squirrel and one skunk. I remember one time my mom called me frantic that Fiona go out and was attacked and she was on her way to the practice, covered in blood. I paced hysterically crying until they arrived, assuming the worst, only to find the damn dog didn’t have even ONE scratch on her. I don’t believe we can say the same for whatever was at the receiving end of her murderous ways. Another time I was in the garden and saw her sprint to the shed and heard her start to attack something, and by the time I ran around screaming her name, the groundhog was dead and it’s intestines strewn around the lawn. Tom had to deal with that one.
For as tough as she was, god did I love her. At the age of 11 she finally slowed down, only because she lost her vision. Gradually at first due to glaucoma and cataracts, but then over about a year, we had to remove one eye and then the other as she went completely blind in each and her glaucoma became uncontrollable. But damn was that dog resilient. As a then 12 year old dog, who had no eyes, we installed a new sliding door at the house and in 3 days she figured out how to use her nose to open it to let herself in (and no, we had never had a sliding door before!).
She was also diagnosed with Cushing’s disease late in life, and kidney disease, and slowly got to the point where she was not doing well, and we had to make the decision to let her go. She lived to the ripe old age of 13 ½ years old, and she had a good, long life. I spent most of this story highlighting her naughtiness, but she was also the most loving, snuggly, and sweet dog. As much as she made our lives harder at times (so much harder), I still adored her and I miss her naughty, spotted face. So to all of you out there with naughty dogs, know this – you are not alone, and we love them all the more for it. Until we meet again, you spotted devil. ❤️