Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple will cancel her South American tour dates in order to be with her ailing dog Janet, a 13-year-old pitbull that’s she’s grown very close to since rescuing her as a puppy. Here’s the entirety of the note that she posted on Facebook:

It’s 6pm on Friday,and I’m writing to a few thousand friends I have not met yet. I am writing to ask them to change our plans and meet a little while later. Here’s the thing. I have a dog Janet, and she’s been ill for almost two years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly. She’s almost 14 years old now.I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then ,an adult officially – and she was my child. She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face. She was the one the dogfighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders. She’s almost 14 and I’ve never seen her start a fight ,or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She’s a pacifist. Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact. We’ve lived in numerous houses, and jumped a few make shift families, but it’s always really been the two of us. She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head. She sat next to me when I wrote songs,and barked any time I tried to record something,and she was with me in the studio,all the time we recorded the last album.

The last time I came back from tour,she was spry as ever,and she’s used to me being gone for a few weeks every 6 or 7 years. She has Addison’s Disease, which makes it dangerous for her to go on the road with me, since she needs regular injections of Cortisol, because she reacts to stress and to excitement without the physiological tools which keep most of us from literally panicking to death. Despite all of this, she’s effortlessly joyful and playful, and only stopped acting like a puppy about 3 years ago. She’s my best friend and my mother and my daughter,and my benefactor,and she’s the one who taught me what love is. I can’t come to South America. Not now. when I got back from the last leg of the US tour, there was a big,big difference. She doesn’t even want to go for walks anymore. I know that she’s not sad about aging or dying. Animals may well have a survival instinct ,but a sense of mortality and vanity,they do not. That’s why they are so much more present then most people. But I know that she is coming close to point where she will stop being a dog,and instead,be part of everything. She’ll be in the wind,and in the soil,and the snow,and in me,wherever I go. I can’t leave her now,please understand. If i go away again,I’m afraid she’ll die and I won’t have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out.

Maybe she’ll fool me and live for a couple more years–maybe I’ll lose my potential friends, in places I feel a longing to know. Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes to pick which socks to wear to bed. But this decision is instant. These are the choices we make, which define us. I am not the woman who puts her career ahead of love and friendship. I’m the woman who stays home, and bakes Tilapia for my dearest, oldest friend. And helps her be comfortable, and comforted,and safe, and important. Many of us these days, we dread the ’death’ of a loved one .It is the ugly truth of life, that leaves us feeling terrified and alone. I wish we could also appreciate the time that lies right beside the end of time. I know that I will feel the most overwhelming knowledge of her, and of her life,and of my love for her, in the last moments. I need to do my damnedest to be there for that. Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I’ve ever known. When she dies. So I am staying home, and I am listening to her snore and wheeze, and reveling in the swampiest, most awful breath that ever emanated from an angel. And I am asking for your blessing. I’ll be seeing you.
Love, Fiona

You can see Fiona’s handwritten note here.

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Comments (31)
  1. Michael_  |   Posted on Nov 20th, 2012 -16

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    • Well, Michael, it’s good for you that YOU have that choice to make for yourself. But would you kill your grandmother or elder family member simply because they’re old? Slow? Tired? Worn out? Her dog is not in pain, she’s in her last months, years. I’m an animal rescuer and having had to say goodbye to many animals for various reasons, it’s not a selfish act to allow a loved one to pass naturally when not suffering. What is a gutless act is to take them to be “put down” (very touching and sweet, by the way) simply because you don’t want to deal with old age. Death is a part of life – not you’re choice to make for someone or something else.

    • Michael_  |   Posted on Nov 20th, 2012 -10

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      • wow, you’re callous. have fun living an empty life.

        • Michael_  |   Posted on Nov 20th, 2012 -2

          Right, because it’s not like they don’t randomly maul people or anything. I recall going for a run and someone left theirs unleashed, and within 50 feet of running towards its general direction, I saw the pitbull giving me death dagger stares and looking to bolt at me (so I turned right back around and avoided it altogher.) I’ve heard so many stories from other people I know where they’ve either been bit by loose pitbulls or jumped on in an attack manner by them. There’s at least half a dozen incidents locally where I live that pitbulls are to blame for severe injuries or even deaths.

          • I wasn’t commenting on society’s bias towards pitbulls, I was commenting on how you “did not read all of Fiona’s babbling” yet somehow jumped to the conclusion of the idea that she wants to spend time with her companion during its final days instead of touring as “pathetic.” the second sentence of her letter says that she’s postponing the tour. she’s gotta take care her girl whose loved her unconditionally through 13 years.. I get it. Do you?

            gotta say: this letter made me love fiona apple even more than i already did.

          • Michael_  |   Posted on Nov 21st, 2012 0

            It’s a dog, not a human. You can train a dog to love you back unconditionally. It’s as easy way to receive love — as easy as waving meat or a biscuit in front of their faces, and they’ll think you’re the best in the world, for that matter. It’s nowhere on the same level as unconditional love received from a fellow human.

            I feel bad for her empathize for her loss, but at the same time, I think the outpouring of emotions here is an over-reaction. I respect animals and think they bring us a ton of joy, but like I say in my response below, our culture has this way of putting dogs on a higher pedestal than we do our fellow man.

            I didn’t see a shitstorm of people claiming to be crying their eyes out when Morrissey cancelled his tour to be with his sick mom (Granted he didn’t write much about it, but he did make a statement.) It was met with a shrug, maybe a “Hope she gets better” at best. and soon forgotten. So, in all this, you’re telling me that the life value of Fiona Apple’s dog > life value of Morrissey’s mom?

        • In the 1st grade I woke up to find out that my cat I’d had since birth was killed by two self-walking pitbulls as he was laying on our front porch.

          I’ve hated pitbulls since and my life hasn’t been any emptier because of it. Working at the news, I can say that Michael_ is correct in the high number of pitbull involved maulings/killings.

          All that said, it seems Fiona’s pitbull is a sweety. On the topic of what she should do… Anything, She Wants.

          • Michael_  |   Posted on Nov 20th, 2012 -4

            I am sorry for your horrific loss, Raptor, from one news member, fellow ‘Gum commenter and guest post contributor to another. We the same, friend… but I’m sure not really.

          • Pit bulls are very, VERY loyal dogs. This, along with their obvious size and strength, is why they are used for dog fighting, because they are very loyal to their master, even when he/she tells them to fight other dogs. Please don’t hate on them as a breed, especially with zero knowledge.

    • Michael_  |   Posted on Nov 20th, 2012 -5

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    • Michael_. Fionna Apple doesn’t strike me as a dumb or cruel person. I’ve had two pets put down at my vets recommendation. I’ve had three pets die slowly, naturally, because the vet said there was no need to KILL THEM early. You’re assuming an awful lot.

    • Came on here to tell the pitbull haters to fuck off. They can be the sweetest dogs, and their aggression is the fault of humans, not their own. I’m a proud rescuer of a pitbull mix. He’s been a handful because his previous owner very obviously mistreated him, but he has come a long way and is the most affectionate dog I’ve ever met.

  2. woozefa  |   Posted on Nov 20th, 2012 +4

    hmph, it doesn’t rhyme. :(

  3. It just got really dusty in here.

  4. Michael! You’re a douche! Seriously! Your brain must be the size of a pea.

    • Michael_  |   Posted on Nov 20th, 2012 -2

      I’m sorry. I obviously was just writing with whatever came out of my head and not thinking out what to say in a more compassionate sense.

      I’m not anti-pet or anti-dog. I used to have two great German Shepards who I adored and snuggled with because their coats were so fluffy wuffy. The male passed away due to a genetic disorder that started to turn his stomach inside out (so we in that case had to put him to sleep. I don’t know if anyone is offended by that, but it sounds tortureously painful.) The female half passed away shortly after, with a similar genetic disorder. They were obedient friends, but it wasn’t on the same level as losing my grandmother. I also do remember an aunt of mine who had two dogs who she treated like children. One of them went blind early on its life, but she refused to put it to sleep. The thing just bumped around the walls of her house, barking at random things. It was kind of funny but more so sad. It outlived my aunt, and soon after, her daughter (another rampant dog lover) thought it would be best to put it out of its misery. What was weird was that my aunt was this bitter, cranky bitch who treated her neighbors and best friends terribly the more she aged. She eventually pushed away those she was close to. But not the dogs. I guess I can see a bit of that in Fiona. I can’t imagine she enjoys humans all too much, and as she eloquently writes, the dog has fulfilled the roles (at least in her eyes) which humans normally do. I’m sorry for her impending loss, but at the same time, it’s not entirely healthy to turn to animals as the sole means to give us the affection which our fellow humans can only do. It’s almost like avoiding reality. Isn’t that what Heidi Fleiss did? She moved away to the desert to take care of exotic birds, and when her favorite one died, she nearly had a nervous breakdown. I get it, but I don’t agree with it. Especially here in America, I feel that we hold pets up in higher regard than people. We care more about the fate of a dog rather than a 7-year-old girl in third world country who is dying in a ditch. We treat dogs better than we do each other. My response was more a reaction to this underlying annoyance with that.

      • I agree completely with all your posts MIchael. I’m sorry to see you catching so much flack here. I think your view would’ve been the norm a generation ago, but I too see this exultation of pets as people with four paws to be bothersome. And I like dogs, A LOT. But I realize at the end of the day, they are just pets. They are only driven by instinct, base emotions and training. They can help alleviate loneliness, but at the same time they are no replacement for human relationships. I think pets are an easy escape for people that simply don’t have the patience or desire to work for a real human relationship that actually takes effort and compromise. Dogs require nothing but to be fed and petted in order to be loyal. But their lives are short and they only have a limited range of emotions to give back.

    • Just because he’s a douche doesnt mean he’s dumb. There are a lot of inconsiderant smart people in the world.

      • Michael_  |   Posted on Nov 20th, 2012 -1

        You’re right. I’m being a huge, inconsiderate douche. In typical underscore form, it’s always because of something else bothering me and putting me in a pissy mood (sucky weekend, Trash Talk show I was looking forward to got cancelled on Sunday, I’m having an existential crisis, I’m bored and my social life is dead.) Sorry, everyone.

  5. brb; going to go cry my eyes out

  6. Heartbreaking note, or new album title?

  7. I read the note. I seriously teared up. Casting my personal feelings aside of pit bulls, kudos to Fiona for putting family first over career. And yes, her dog is her family.

  8. What a crazy bitch.

  9. This is the most beautiful thing I have ever read and for anyone who has loved an animal like this, there is nothing better or truer about the experience. And Pit’s without a doubt are the most loving and loyal of breeds. Thank you Fiona for sharing this and for helping your baby transition. I have such respect for you and wish you the best. Sending tons of prayers your way. Jennifer

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