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Sunday, November 09, 2003

I never wrote of the passing of Azorel.

He was my grandmother's dog. My uncle Tanu found him as a puppy and took him to replace Furnica (ant in Romanian).

My mother always warned me never to approach Azorel. Romanian country dogs take their guard dog role very seriously. Yet, when I went into the chicken yard, Azorel growled at me from inside his hut.

A week before my grandmother died, we went to slaughter the entire chicken coop population. Uncle Tanu axed off their heads and I plucked all the feathers. I found half-formed eggs in their bellies. I cut my hands on their bones.

Azorel hated watching the chickens being killed. He hid in his hut and said nothing. (We did spare the little widowed rooster.)

After the funeral, the neighbours suggested we just dump Azorel in any field. How could we? Azorel protected my grandmother for so many years. Besides we adopt every street dog that comes our way; why should we neglect a family dog?

I tied a chain around Azorel's neck and dragged him to the car. Our van only made it up to the great boulder in front of the cemetery. Azorel looked back - he would never see his home and his mistress was buried hours earlier.

Azorel never allowed me to approach him, on the threat of a swiftly-administered bite. Now he was my dog. He hid under my seat for the whole journey and I pet him for the first time.

The first night Azorel spent bewildered in our dogs' house. Our dogs, Ringila, Laurica and Flocea, preferred sleeping behind the vending machine.

In the morning I jumped out of bed, opened my bedroom window and called out to Azorel.

A new rule was in place. All the dogs had to stay in the dog yard so they wouldn't get hit by any more cars. But Azorel laid claims to the yard. He gave poor gentle Flocea such a beating! Mom in turn hit Azorel.

Eventually Azorel dug his way out of the yard, but the three original dogs shunned him. They ostracized the bully. After I left, Nicoleta told me, Azorel grew lonelier and lonelier. He hid in the bathroom and refused to come out. He lost his fur (to stress and depression, I imagine). Then three weeks ago Irina found him dead. She buried him.

I had hoped Azorel would have a good retirement.

*****

My parents added a new puppy to their flock. She is white with a black patch around one eye.

When they were suggesting names, Anisoara (the girl, not the hamster) put her foot down and declared that the new puppy is also an Anisoara. So I have three Anisoaras in my life: a human, hamster and puppy version.

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