Fiona Apple cancels South American leg of tour to take care of her dying dog, Janet

Fiona Apple

These are some photos of Fiona Apple in 2006 because — let’s face it — the discussion got a bit heated last time the topic of Fiona came up in regard to her 2012 thin frame, and this story has a vastly different focus and one that I believe few of you would argue about in terms of subject matter. That is, the unconditional love between pet and owner, and Fiona has recently undertaken a grand gesture for her dying dog, Janet, who is a pit bull suffering from a chest tumor. Poor Janet started life with Fiona 14 years ago as a rescue pup, and Fiona returned from the most recent leg of her tour to discover that Janet (who cannot travel) has deteriorated significantly in terms of health. Since Fiona expects that her pup, which she describes as “my best friend and my mother and my daughter, my benefactor,” will soon pass away, she has decided to cancel all of her upcoming South American tour dates. Hopefully, her fans will understand because Fiona really needs to be with Janet for the very last moments of her life. It’s such a sad story, but Fiona is determined not to let Janet die alone, so here is her explanatory letter that she’s posted to Facebook. Get your Kleenex out before you read this one:

Fiona Apple

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 was under the piano when I wrote songs, barked any time I tried to record anything, and she was in the studio with me 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 travel 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, 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 have a survival instinct, but a sense of mortality and vanity, they do not. That’s why they are so much more present than 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 just 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. 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 will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love and friendship. I am 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 keeps 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

[From Facebook]

Poor Fiona. I have two dogs of my own (a Yellow Lab and a German Shepherd mix) who mean the world to me. Both of these wonderful puppies are of relatively advanced canine age at 12 years old, and not nearly a day goes by that I worry about what will happen when they eventually pass away. So I totally emphathize with what Fiona is going through, and she definitely made the best decision to stay with her dog. If Fiona had gone on tour as planned, there was a chance that she’d never make it back in time. There’re really not much left to say except that Fiona is a beautiful person inside, and she recognizes what is truly important in life and death.

Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple

Photos courtesy of WENN

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74 Responses to “Fiona Apple cancels South American leg of tour to take care of her dying dog, Janet”

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  1. brin says:

    This breaks my heart. I have a 15 year old and ten year old dog so I feel for her.

  2. Eleonor says:

    I had to put to sleep my German Shepherd years ago: she was 12 years old and she had a cancer.
    I knew she was going to die, so my top priority in the last months of her life was to treat her like a queen, and make her happy in all the way I could. I spoiled the hell out of her, seriously. Than one day she wasn’t able to stay on her paws: that day was her last one. When the vet put her to sleep I was by her side, and no one could have kept me far from her. I had to be there.
    I totally get how Fiona is feeling, if she is in the position of postponing her tour, she has all my simpathy for her and for her dog.

  3. Amelia says:

    I’m genuinely reaching for tissues right now.
    I’m such a sucker for animal stories, but I really don’t care. This is lovely. A kinder contrast to the news of the Hobbit production yesterday.
    I might sound a little weird, but I think animals genuinely appreciate it when their owner is there for them when they start to drift away. I remember my Jack Russell who was in her teens and she got sleepier and sleepier, and I gave her some turkey and I’m not actually sure I can finish this story!! My eyes are getting all watery.
    Where’s the chocolate when you need it?

    • bluhare says:

      Man, I thought whoever was cutting those onions had left until I read your post.

      I have two older dogs right now (and one younger). We’ve had a lot of dogs since we got married, and we’ve been with every one when they died. It’s awful, in some ways, but it is so nice to see they aren’t in pain any more when they’re gone. Doesn’t take the sads away, but if there’s a saving grace, that’s it.

      The only animal I wasn’t with when he died was my horse, as the vet had to leave the farm before I could get there. I’ve never gotten over that.

      Dammit!! Who started with the onions again??

  4. L says:

    Oh my, that letter brought tears to my eyes. Maybe I’m just a sap who loves her dog. I remember singing my 14 year old dog to sleep a few years back at the vet when she was leaving, and thinking of anyone having to do that just breaks my heart.

  5. Kimbob says:

    You weren’t kidding when you warned about the Kleenex. What a wonderful person to do such….very rare, indeed.

    I have many “babies,” & Fiona’s exactly right about how the fear and terror that grip one’s thinking about being w/out them. I have a newfound respect for her.

    Honestly, it’s so refreshing to read that a celebrity has such a heart….so very refreshing and life-affirming.

  6. Canda says:

    I am just bawling right now, from Fiona’s beautiful words and from the comments of readers’ own experiences. I have 3 dogs myself, relatively young-ish, and every week or so I look at their loving faces and imagine what life is going to be like when they pass or when I have to make the decision that it’s their time. I’m not one to cry easily, but thinking about my dogs’ mortality does it every time.
    I’m not a Fiona fan (I don’t dislike her, she’s just not my cup of tea) but my heart goes out to her. I respect her so much for putting her sweet pup ahead of work, because 14 years of love and family is nothing to scoff at.

  7. marie says:

    aww, that’s so sad, and I feel for her-makes me teary. I took several days off of work when I lost my Annie to cancer, hopefully her fans will understand..

  8. Mimi says:

    That was heart wrenchingly beautiful. Best wishes for a smooth passing, Fiona & Janet. <3

  9. goodquestion says:

    I was shocked to read in Vulture last month that her elderly dog was sick, but that she was going on a world tour anyway.
    I am terribly sad for both of them. Dogs are really the greatest creatures on earth, and we are so lucky to have them in our lives.

  10. Natasha says:

    Losing your puppy dog sucks :( Totally feel her pain and I would have done the same thing to spend the last days with my best friend.

  11. TheOriginalKitten says:

    Gah! I love her so much. So eloquently written, especially this:

    “I know that she’s not sad about aging or dying. Animals have a survival instinct, but a sense of mortality and vanity, they do not. That’s why they are so much more present than people.”

    LOVE. HER.

    • Eve says:

      Yes, that part is so beautiful and true. But I must confess I cried while reading the entire thing (today morning, when I saw it for the first time on Dlisted) — so beautifully written, so very moving. And I’m not even a dog person!!!

      The sweetest parts, in my opinion?

      “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.”

      “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.”

      I’m crying again so I’m leaving this post NOW :( .

    • The Original Tiffany says:

      Can’t even comment. Just tears. Anyone who loves their pet like that is A-OK in my book.

      *backs out of thread for kleenex*

  12. ramona says:

    Bless. My cat, whom I love more than most of my human relatives, is FIV+ and I’m always worried about his health. I couldn’t bear to leave him if he was on his last legs. Poor Fiona.

  13. MonicaQ says:

    People stay around a long time because they’re learning to be good and kind to people and to bring people happiness.

    Animals don’t stay as long because they already know how to do that.

    I still miss my Rottie–we had the same birthday and she died when we were both 15 on New Years Day. I still light a candle for my Bear almost 15 years after she’s been gone. She was my best friend when I literally had no one else.

  14. Jaded says:

    Ok, just got all teary and verklempt at work just as my boss walked in…soooo sad when you lose a pet like that. I still get all emo when I think of my all-time favourite cat, Basil, who was my little saviour during a particularly rough period of my life. He used to put his paw in my hand whenever I started to cry.

    Sending Fiona my sympathy and compassion at this tough time.

  15. jen d. says:

    Oh, I feel for her so much. I couldn’t read the letter – too heartbreaking. Good for her. I like her so much more now.

  16. Sadie says:

    I had to put my best friend of 12 years to sleep on Monday. His kidneys finally shut down, and he was in a lot of pain. He, in his very special way, told me that morning that it was his time to go. I was with him to the very end, holding and kissing him as he went to sleep for the last time. It is something I would never want to miss. It was one of the hardest/special/magical moments of my life. I am lucky that I was able to be with him and put him at ease. I can understand why anyone would want to be there too.

  17. Thiajoka says:

    OMG, boohoo, and I’m not a cryer, but real tears here now. I lost my Lab-mix at the age of 14 in 2011 and my Chow-mix earlier this year at the age of 15. In 2010, I lost my 17 year old cat.

    It’s been hell losing 3 members of my family all at once, for that is truly what they were. But we were lucky to have them all for as long as we did and I wouldn’t take anything to undo the experiences of being with them even should I be offered the world instead.

  18. Zigggy says:

    I’m crying- that was so beautiful. Good for her.

  19. Mauibound says:

    No one can give unconditional love like your pets, to me being there at the last moments of their life is the least we can do. I have so much love and respect for Fiona for this choice, she will never regret it

  20. Beatrice says:

    I’m so impressed by Fiona and totally understand wanting to be with her dog in her last days. About this time last year my cat was diagnosed with oral cancer and given only a short time to live. She had given me 17 years of love and companionship so I would not have been able to live with the guilt if I’d left her. I tried to make her last days as comfortable as possible. It was hard for her to eat dry food so I fed her canned food six times a day and got up in the middle of the night to give her meds. The best memory I have, though, is every evening we snuggled together and I read to her. She let me know when her time was up and I held her while the vet put her to sleep. I still miss her but am at peace because I took good care of my friend.

  21. QQ says:

    Ahhh sh-t I wasnt ready for this today!! These Puppies man, They’ll break your heart each and every time… My Spikey Michael Christoper is 11 and im all in dread of anything that should ever happen to my cheetos footed lil baby king, so this letter just broke my lumpy coal of a heart

  22. Kimiber says:

    I never, ever comment, but this story was exactly what I needed today. My 8 year old boxer mix had a seizure this morning when I was getting ready to leave for class, so I decided to stay home with him despite the fact my grade will go down significantly for missing class. I was stressing out like crazy about it after the seizure passed, but now I know I made the right decision to stay w/my buddy and take a B.

  23. Moi says:

    I don’t cry easily, but this did it. What a beautiful story of love.

  24. PrettyTarheel says:

    Sitting here watching my spoiled rotten, old as hell, rescue no-longer-a-pup Aussie sleep on my very expensive couch, I feel for Fiona. Watching your baby go down hill is so painful. Dan is nearing the end of his life, last night we had to carry him up the stairs, and we’re trying to make everything as comfortable as possible for him. Instead of going to an (admittedly very cozy and nice) kennel for Thanksgiving/Christmas or traveling 6-8 hours in a car, we’ve set it up for someone to visit him four times a day so he’s in his home with no stress. I’m terrified that I’m going to wake up one day and he will be gone. He has seen me through bad boyfriends, moves, job changes, and now marriage and baby, and been a faithful companion and confidante through it all. Woman’s best and most loyal friend.

  25. valleymiss says:

    I didn’t grow up with pets, and have never considered myself to be an animal person. I adopted a dog 3 years ago, mainly as company for me since I live alone. While I love my dog, if I had to choose between him and a human, I would choose the human. I’ve made fun of my dog-obsessed friend, who told me that in a “burning building” situation, she would save her dog instead of her boyfriend (if she could only save 1). I think that’s friggin’ nuts. I’ve never trusted people who like animals more than people. I don’t sleep with my dog – he sleeps in a crate.

    Having said all that, I read Fiona’s letter yesterday and began crying almost immediately. It was so eloquent, a eulogy of sorts. Clearly, her dog is a family member, and I really can’t question her decision to postpone her tour. Poor woman, and poor doggie. :-(

    • bluhare says:

      Why do you need to make a distinction between love for an animal and a person? Isn’t love, love? Is it something less if it’s directed toward an animal for you? I’m not trying to be snarky, I’m actually interested in your answer.

      • valleymiss says:

        I make the distinction because of that conversation with my friend. She talks about her dog *all the time,* and one day I teased her a little bit with the “burning building” scenario…when she said she’d save her dog instead of her boyfriend, I freaked out. I said to her,”Your boyfriend is a human being with a mom and a dad and friends who love him. Wtf?” I emjoy and love my dog, but in the burning building “you can only save 1″ scenario, I’m not choosing my dog over my boyfriend, or my sister, or my mom, or even a stranger.

      • bluhare says:

        Thanks valleymiss. Not sure who I’d rescue from the burning building, maybe whoever was closest! I think it was the not trusting people who love animals more than people statement that got me wondering. I don’t love animals more than people; my love is the same no matter who you are.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      Same here. I like animals but I love people. I feel bad for anyone who is in pain, so in cases like this I’m better off by bearing silent witness or offering abstract comfort because people mean more to me than do people. It speaks well of a person’s character to love something that deeply, even if I don’t get it at all. The only thing that actively grates on me is when people is when some of your more strident types take it upon themselves to explain why liking but not loving animals is a stone’s throw away from annexing Poland.

  26. Minky says:

    Ah, this makes me cry. I had to put down my 17 year old cat five years ago, and to this day, thinking about him makes me cry. I have an 8 year old chocolate Lab, and I worry that one day I will have to do for her what I had to do for my cat, and that makes me cry.
    I feel for Fiona, and while I’m not in South America or going to one of her shows there, she definitely has my blessing to do what she needs to do for Janet.
    I’m going to go hug my dog now. :)

  27. Lisa Mullaney says:

    My prayers and thoughts are with you Fiona – as a mother/friend to my 9 years old Boxer with hip/elbow issues – I totally understand – I love my Duke so much – the unconditional love I receive from my friend is one of the most valued parts of my life.

  28. Nessa says:

    That letter was such a spectacular declaration of love. That might be the most genuine, honest thing I’ve ever read from a celebrity/entertainer. I am stunned…

  29. Nicolette says:

    An absolutely beautiful thing for her to do. A pet dying is heartbreaking. They are as much a part of the family as everyone else, I know mine are. They love you unconditionally, and are always there for you to greet you when you walk in the door, to cuddle with when you’re sad or sick, and honestly to talk to. They can’t answer back, but sometimes the look in their eyes says so much.

    Janet is lucky to have a “mommy” like Fiona. Just a really touching story.

  30. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    Same here. I like animals but I love people. I feel bad for anyone who is in pain, so in cases like this I’m better off by bearing silent witness or offering abstract comfort because those people mean more to me than do people. It speaks well of a person’s character to love something that deeply, even if I don’t get it at all. The only thing that actively grates on me is when people is when some of your more strident types take it upon themselves to explain why liking but not loving animals is a stone’s throw away from annexing Poland.

  31. skuddles says:

    I completely understand why she’s doing this and I give her a lot of credit for being a devoted Mum to the very end. I have nothing but the deepest sympathy for her – such a heartache to lose a beloved pet, especially one that’s been with you so long :(

  32. Vesper says:

    My God that is so beautiful. Love this girl!

    I volunteer in animal rescue and I can’t tell u how common it is for people to dispose of their pets the minute they become inconvenient. The stats on euthanization of perfectly healthy animals are unbelievably devasting. People like Fiona who give their pets unconditional love for life, give hope to all of those who work with animals who are not so lucky – the abused, neglected and forgotten.

  33. Grace says:

    This is a lovely act of devotion. People hate to admit that sometimes animals ARE better company than people, family or not.

    Fiona is a truly loyal person.

  34. Merman says:

    What an amazing human being,to feel such profound love.I’ve lived with my dog for 16 years,of course she’s family.I love her so much and I’m dreading that inevitable day…

  35. Chinoiserie says:

    My dog was put down two days ago and i could not be with her since I was at work and I am still shaken since I could not say good bye.

    • skuddles says:

      My sincere sympathies on the loss of your beloved dog Chinoiserie. Don’t beat yourself up for not being there, it couldn’t be helped. Sometimes life just doesn’t go the way we want it to. The most important thing is you loved your pet to the end. *Hugs*

  36. Tinker831 says:

    Lord, after reading this and all the comments so far, I’ve gone through half a box of tissue. I had to have my best friend Top Cat (Or TC for short) put down about a month ago due to diabetes. I couldn’t afford the meds and he was really beginning to lose a LOT of weight. I had him put down at home and it was the hardest thing I’ve EVER had to do, I loved that cat so much. Mr. Tinker and I were going through some old photos the other day and all of a sudden, he turned away with the pictues in his hands. I asked him what was wrong, and he sat there for a minute, turned back to me and handed me a picture of TC from when he was a kitten. I couldn’t help it, when I saw the picture, I started to cry. I really feel for Fiona and for others on here who are faced/or faced a similar decision.

  37. Shelly says:

    That made me cry. I love what she wrote. I have 2 dogs and they are everything to me. I really feel for her.

  38. Whitney says:

    this story absolutely broke my heart! my thoughts & prayers are with fiona & janet! there’s absolutely nothing like the love of a dog. hank, my pug/boston terrier mix (or Bugg), turned 4 yesterday & his is truly the love of my life. as i laid on the couch reading this post, hank climbed on the arm of the couch, put him head down on my shoulder & nuzzled my neck & face while i cried.

  39. buckley says:

    Oh man…just no words.
    Best thoughts to Fiona and the lovely Janet.

  40. Nona says:

    I’m sitting here on my bed, surrounded by my three dogs, and I’m crying my eyes out. My god, that was beautiful. I wish Janet a peaceful passing. Fiona obviously knows she was blessed to have Janet. But I hope Fiona also knows how lucky Janet was to have her.

  41. Jessica says:

    Not a Fiona fan but this makes me think highly of her.

  42. Persephone69 says:

    O.M.G. sobbing here too for some people it really is like losing a family member. I had to put down my cat that was 20 years old just 2 years ago and I sobbed like a baby and still do just thinking about it. Twenty years is a very long time to spend loving someone (something? how about loving another “soul”). We grew together from my teenage years, through my crazy dramatic twenties until well into my 30′s with a husband and two kids. It just left a huge hole in my heart when he had to go, I don’t envy the pain she’s going through. :-(

    ETA – hugs to all who have lost a furry family member <3

  43. aims says:

    Animals give the purest form of love. like a child

  44. Rachelle says:

    This made me cry so bad. My 13 year old Beagle/ Lab mix was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy several months ago and is losing all feeling and use of her back end. She can’t go on walks anymore, doesn’t play with toys anymore, can’t get really get up and down stairs anymore. And to top it all off, because she knows somethings wrong with her, she’s developed severe anxiety and all she wants is to be near me 24/7, which isn’t possible. I know the time to make a decision is coming very, very soon–probably before Christmas–but man it’s hard. I’ve had her since she was 10 weeks old and imagining life without her is just…yeah. She was my hiking buddy, my beach buddy, and always just seemed to know when you’re feeling low and need someone to hug.

    Anyway, I adore Fiona, and have for years. She’s a true, gutsy artist in an age full of gimmicky manufactured “singers” in the music industry. And this just proves she’s an amazing person as well, and gives me a whole new reason to love her :)

  45. kityafey says:

    Fiona is a beautiful person. Her story made me bawl. My heart is with her losing her baby. I lost my twenty year old cat this summer. I had her since I was college age. It feels like a part of my soul has been ripped away. Last night I took down my rabbit cage as I bawled through each step. My beautiful rabbit passed away last week peacefully as my husband & I kissed her goodbye. It is still hard on us. We had her for nine years.

  46. Jayna says:

    I cried reading this. It really got to me. I was never a dog person. Had family dogs and enjoyed them, but once I hit 18 only a cat or no animals. Then in early twenties got my first and only dog when I was in a bad breakup. She is 12, going on 13, and still looks like a puppy. But when I think of her age I get so nervous. I love this dog more than I ever thought I could, a little black-and-white cocker mix, with the sweetish disposition in the world and was a little wild thing who went everywhere with me. I will literally be on the floor when I lose her.

  47. vvvoid says:

    I have a very special admiration for Fiona Apple. She is my favorite singer/songwriter, her lyrics are unparalleled and it’s as though she infiltrates my brain to write songs about my inner life. She’s amazing. This letter further proves to me that she is as beautiful a person as she is unique.

  48. princesslizabeth says:

    Oh…reading this made my heart break. I have experienced the loss of several pets…I completely understand why she wants to be there for her dog. Dogs–and all pets–give us so much. To be with them when they are nearing the end of their journey in this world…it just means a lot. I hope Janet isn’t in pain, and I wish her and Fiona peace.

  49. alys says:

    “Grief is the price we pay for love..”Queen Elizabeth II


  50. JudyK says:

    OMG, that made me cry. Lucky dog, lucky dog mom.

  51. snappyfish says:

    my sweet dog dex had to put down almost 10 years ago (cancer) but i can barely talk about him without crying, even after all these years. he was my friend, and i will miss him for the rest of my life. i have two wonderful doggies at the moment and i cannot even think about them dying.

    i think animals can be true friends: we learn from them, they love us unconditionally, they make us laugh, and when they die they leave a void.