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Ada - R.I.P.

      Left: Ada photographed in the summer of 2002. She was a black lab (not navy blue) and in fact, tended toward a brownish hue. Below, Ada photographed the day before she met her maker. If you scroll down, there are some pictures of when she was younger.      

Washington, CT - Miss Ada Swain passed away at home on October 25, 2003. The cause of death was old age (cruelly exacerbated by a ghastly cancerous tumor of the left rear foot) and an injection of Euthanol, administered by her trusted physician, Mark Carlson. She was attended by her longtime companions, Rex Swain and Polly Roberts, and that idiot, Ruby.

Born on May 8, 1990 in Pine Plains, New York, "Stissing’s Ada" was the issue of rather fancy pedigreed stock. But she never let on to others that she was a descendent of champions, always having an unassuming demeanor. Famous for her good manners, dignified comportment and reserved, though genuine, concern for others, she will be missed by many close friends, who comprise a wide-ranging cross-section of age, socio-economic and political strata.

A beloved fixture amongst Washington’s outdoorsy set, she could frequently be seen trotting the trails of Steep Rock and Hidden Valley or sauntering down East Street. A gifted natural athlete, she could snag a Frisbee in flight, triangulate and run to ground a few more, deftly stacking them into a neat mouthful, then field a tennis ball or two, and look expectantly at the pitcher for more. In addition to her land-based antics, she enjoyed navigating the rushing waters of the Shepaug River; rescuing driftwood from the gently undulating – though terribly salty – waters of Long Island Sound; power swims in the still waters of Lake Waramaug and cool dips in the private pools of noted New Yorkers who made it a point to offer their facilities for her enjoyment.

She traveled extensively throughout the northeast. Although she never trusted in the safety of car travel, she was always delighted to arrive at her destination. Some highlights of her travels: a tour of the Maine coast, culminating in a vacation at a secluded estate in Eastport (The blueberries! The bear poop! The 25-foot tides!); a particularly spirited weekend on the Jersey shore at Mantoloking (The hurricane! The surf! The lampshades!); numerous weekends in Thornton, New Hampshire, often spent suffering the humiliation of wearing a safety-orange tunic during bear season and losing sleep to the nearby howlings of coyotes… wolves? – not to mention the nocturnal shenanigans of that grey, mouse-sucking disciple of Satan. (Can we go home now?) Christmas Holidays were spent on Boston's Beacon Hill, with bone-chilling midnight walks on the Common – or afternoons, having one’s ears riffled by chill winds off the Charles, along the Esplanade. Christmas days were usually spent patrolling the links at the very private Myopia Hunt Club, with her crazy white cousins and that Napoleonic sausage. Various other jaunts included weekends and vacations in Dorset, VT; Nantucket; Cushings Island, ME; Block Island and Westerly, RI; and Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester, MA. After one or two early trips to Manhattan, she made it clear that the sanitary facilities were not up to her standards. Certainly the high point of her social career was a winter season spent in Palm Beach, where she and friends rented a comfortable villa, and days were spent shuttling between the Atlantic and the tepid, cleansing waters of the back yard pool.

Although her breeding might have made her a greedy and gluttonous eater, she was ever the lady, never raiding larder, waste basket, coffee table, nor forgotten barbecue platter. However, when failing health required that she take steroids, all bets were off, and she’d pushily mug any poor sucker that might hold a crumb. A favorite treat late in life was Land o’ Lakes American cheese, white please, thickly sliced. She often impressed admirers with her enthusiasm for raw vegetables. She particularly enjoyed celery, carrots, green beans, broccoli, iceberg or romaine lettuce, vidalia onions and apples. Always a gracious hostess, she was happy to share her popcorn with many guests. While on the subject of food, it seems fair to point out that she was always "fastidious about elimination" and was nearly phobic about farts – both her own and others’ – occasionally being forced to emit something that sounded like this: feeeerrruurrrhh.

She was a wise and worried soul who shunned physical affection when directed towards her, but who was always lavishly generous with reassuring kisses. A fan of winter, she loved cold weather, stiff breezes and snow. Not a big fan of summer, high heat and humidity, she did appreciate the fact that people tended to wear shorts a lot, and there were all those knees to lick!

She will not be mourned by maids at the Westin Hotel on Route 128, where each Thanksgiving weekend, she luxuriated upon the king size bed and shed bushels of black hair upon their all-white "heavenly bed" linens. Nor will she be mourned by Jim, our UPS delivery man, whom Miss Swain failed to seduce, despite a lifetime of charming effort.

Next spring, she is expected to push up a glorious crop of daisies, tulips and daffodils in the crab apple garden.

The upper left and bottom pictures were taken when she was ten; the upper right when she was 12 and a bit more skeptical.

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