27 April 2017 marks the 3rd death anniversary of our Sharpei, Fifty. He died at 8.5 years old, after a brave battle with cancer. Has it been 3 whole years already? Time sure flies.
Over the years, I’ve written about Fifty here and there. I put together a children’s book on him the Christmas before he died. (It has reduced grown women to tears, so maybe I’ll share it in another post.)
For the last 3 years, I’ve started writing this blog post but I could never complete it. I always felt too sad to continue. Fifty was my first son, even before we had our human child, Ayden. Somehow, I felt better this year so it is finally time to pay tribute to my sweet dog. Here’re 5 things you should know about him.
1. We did NOT name him after Fifty Shades of Grey
Someone was making a joke about the book series/movie Fifty Shades of Grey and suddenly, I thought: “Wait. Do people think I named my dog after a sex novel?!”
For the record, Fifty was named after the rapper 50 Cent. I used to name all my pets after pop culture icons, a legacy of my first job as an entertainment reporter (and later, editor) at Mediacorp’s LIME magazine. I had rabbits named Puffy (Puff Daddy, now known as P Diddy), Missy (Missy Elliott), Ruben (American Idol winner Ruben Studdard) and even a baby rabbit named Lil Kim. We couldn’t tell its gender when it was born and Lil Kim made a nice, androgynous choice.
Why Fifty? Because 50 Cent the rapper was once shot in his face, required many stitches and thus couldn’t move his jaw much. For some reason, my dog’s fleshy jowls reminded me of 50 Cent’s jaw… so there you go.
Definitely a more bad-ass reason than Fifty Shades of Grey!
2. He looked great in camou.
Behold the evidence.
Too bad he outgrew it in seconds — that was the first and last time he wore his army fatigues.
And because Fifty is a chinese breed, we also bought him a kitschy chinese cushion for photo ops. Look at those wrinkly folds!
3. He once protected me and my unborn child against a fierce stray dog.
I was about 5 months pregnant with Ayden and for some reason, thought it was a good idea to walk Fifty, ALONE, to my mum’s place about 15 min away. A stray dog followed us. It got closer and growled menacingly, probably challenging Fifty to a doggie battle. I got nervous, hastened my steps and nearly tripped. I could hear the stray getting dangerously close and next thing I knew, Fifty threw himself in front of me and fought off the stray. My hero!! He got bitten in the process though, and we rushed him to the vet the next day to get jabs.
Look how majestic Fifty looked. He was about 2 years old here.
He was seriously the most handsome Sharpei I had ever met.
4. He was Ayden’s Big Brother.
Few people knew this but we actually had another dog once. She was a shih tsu named Billie Jo (after the Green Day frontman) and was about 2 months older than Fifty.
2 Chinese puppies on a Chinese-style cushion, resting on a calligraphy-themed sofa. You can’t get more cheena than this.
When I was pregnant with Ayden, Billie Jo would keep me up all night with her barking. It drove me crazy! We tried everything but she just wouldn’t stop. It got so bad, I finally asked my husband to find her another home when I delivered Ayden. A friend adopted Billie Jo.
Many people assumed that we would rehome the ‘scary big dog’ and keep the cute lap dog, but we never thought of giving Fifty away. (We wouldn’t have rehomed Billie Jo if not because she drove me to the end of my rope.)
Look at this goofy face.
He was also very gentle with Ayden since he was a baby. He may steal Ayden’s food but he has never once barked at or bit him. It was almost like he knew his role as his Big Brother.
This was a Father’s Day celebration for my husband Alan. My favourite ‘father-and-sons’ picture.
Even when Fiffy was skin and bones and in pain during his sickness, he never hurt Ayden one bit.
On 27 April 2014, when the cancerous tumors led to internal bleeding, we knew it was time to let him go. We didn’t realize it then but my husband Alan had spent a five-figure sum on Fifty’s palliative care over the 10 months he was sick. This was Fifty’s last meal, a farewell treat of roast chicken and roast pork that Fifty devoured.
We’d been preparing Ayden since we knew Fifty had terminal stage cancer. When we told him that it was time to say our final goodbye, Ayden said: “I wish I was born earlier so I can see Fifty for a longer time.”
What a lovely tribute, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
5. He famously ate up my kitchen door. And stole my chicken sandwich. And made the news.
This is the face of a very guilty dog.
Because for five years, he bit and gnawed and chewed and ate up my kitchen door to create his very own doggie entrance. And also chewed off part of my walls while he was at it.
We never fixed the door because really, we preferred to keep the dog rather than fret over the door. We eventually sold the house like that, with its built-in Doggy door hahaha.
Even before the kitchen door episode, I’d written about Fifty’s shady ways in one of my Editor’s Page in Lime magazine. He had stolen my chicken sandwich, unwrapped the aluminum foil wrapping without tearing it, eaten the bread and chicken and — get this — avoided the veggies. What a typical boy.
After Fifty passed away, we were approached to share our story in Pets magazine.
It’s still hard for me to read this article without tearing 😢😥
But it’s been 3 years and we have to let the past go. Today, Fifty still ‘guards’ my main door, perched on a nearby table, on his shrine of rocks and twigs which I collected from a trip to Turkey.
After Fifty’s death, I grieved so hard I thought I could never have a dog in my life again. But he’d left a hole in our lives so big, we really needed some Doggy love. It is because Fifty was such an awesome dog that we now have 2 Furbabies, Optimus the Chowchow and Rey the British Bulldog.
And again, it is because Fifty was such an amazingly loving doggy brother, that Ayden is so comfortable around dogs now.
Thank you, Fifty. You were my first baby. I love you and will always miss you.
Been there, done that four times over more than thirty years with Chinese Shar-Pei. My first one, Ivan, was acquired in 1986 when the breed was still very rare. When he died 8.5 years later I was shattered. Working a flight as a flight attendant a few days later one of my co-workers approached me and asked softly why I was so sad. I finished up the trip, got in my car, and drove to the breeder in another state. I came home with my second Shar Pei, Scotty. When he died 9 years later, I did not hesitate but drove immediately to the breeder and came home with my third Shar Pei, Honor. Upon his death at 9.5 years I acquired Barney, a Chinese Shar-Pei who had retired from the show ring and breeding program of the very same breeder as my first one. The pain of losing a beloved Chinese Shar-Pei is only surpassed by living without one. The breed was almost extinct a mere forty years ago and they are very special today although the breed numbers are sustainable now. To this day I still think of Chinese Shar-Pei as rare and very special indeed. Your own Fifty was a gorgeous boy and quite “normal” as for Shar-Pei temperament. Everything you wrote reminded me of some similar incident with my own. I understand your own pain all to well and I know it is puzzling to you. It was to me also. I am still surprised that losing my own Chinese Shar-Pei brings me to such despair. Ultimately I have decided that it just hurts…it should hurt. I would be far more concerned if it did not. You were fortunate to have Fifty in your life and he was very lucky to have had you in his. At the end of the day that has to be enough….
Thank you for sharing. You nailed it with every word! Much love to you and your beautiful babes