Well I guess I should have done this earlier, but it turns out I only got around to it now…
How do you write a eulogy to a best friend? I’m afraid I don’t know, so instead, I’d like to just talk to you about him.
Sheleg, a mixed breed, came to our home about 7 years ago, when he was about a half a year old. He had passed quite a few owners in Beer Sheva, where my brother was studying for his second degree. My brother took pity on him, but as he already had a dog, and didn’t manage two dogs in his small apartment, he brought Sheleg to us in Tel Aviv.
None of us was interested in having him in the house and thought we would put him up for adoption elsewhere. But I guess that’s the thing with dogs, they grow on you, and before you can blink, you suddenly understand you’re in love.
I guess I was the first to “cave in”, as I realized he just chewed my new and expensive sandals, but I didn’t really care. Being a puppy, he ate up most of the rugs and furniture. When he chewed on the last rug that was still left whole, my mum just wanted to give him away, she was just so angry. But I guess she wasn’t too angry either, because when I insisted that she couldn’t give him away, because he was MY dog now, she caved in as well.
My dad was the last one standing, but I guess Sheleg knew how to woo him as well. My dad wouldn’t let us have pets in our house when we were children because he just saw them as an incubator for flees and tics. But one day, my mum told me "You know, I saw your dad petting Sheleg on the head!" "No way, you’re kidding me!!" "No, seriously, he was!" "I can’t believe it!" But he did, I saw it with my own eyes. Later, my dad would call Sheleg his best friend.
I would call him Sheleg Nshama Maschiach, which stood for:
Sheleg – the name he was given as a puppy, which in Hebrew means "snow", (he used to be snow-white when he was a puppy, but I guess he grew tired of it, as he turned golden brown instead).
Nshama – which in Hebrew means “soul”, because he claimed his stake in our hearts and became part of our soul.
Maschiach – because he was part of the family.
He was intelligent, cute, good of heart and at times, unbelievably stubborn – which all goes to show he fit right in with all of us!
Suddenly there was someone in the house, who would seem very sad to see you leave and then also jump for joy at the fact you just came back into the house. Someone who would sit by the door 5 minutes before you came in, because he would sense you from the outside and was just so excited to finally see you, (my parents would always tell me they knew I was coming because Sheleg was sitting at the door), and that would go and look outside the window to see where you’re going if you left. Someone who would nudge you with his nose or put his paw on you as if to say “I’m here – pet me!” and then also move about, next to you, if you placed your hand not where he wanted you to. Someone who would talk to you, because he knew somehow that it was Friday evening and you were going to grandma’s, and he really enjoyed going to grandma those few Friday nights when you took him, so he wants to tell you to take him again. Someone who knew how to receive a hug, and in a passive way also give the most amazing hugs, and that would lick you back if you would kiss him. Someone who would gaze into your eyes with his own eyes and seem to completely understand you. He even taught us to become better people, as Sheleg would always run out of the room if we would raise our voice at each other – as if to tell us we had crossed an invisible line.
When I left the house, I remember I thought to myself that more than anything in the world, I really regret leaving him behind. He would still jump up at me when I came to visit and look at me with those sad eyes at the door and then also from the front porch when I left, and I would have such guilt feelings. Especially as I couldn’t give him time like I used to, or walk him as much. I knew my parents would take good care of him, as they loved him, and being pensioners they had the time to give him all the attention he needed. I remember my mum (being a Jewish mother and all) once told me "you didn’t bring me grandchildren, you brought me Sheleg!" but in a sense, after both her children left the house, I think Sheleg did become a sort of baby for her and my dad.
The day Mr. Ballmer came for a visit, my mum called me. I didn’t see it till I got back to work. She told me a few days before then that Sheleg wasn’t himself lately. When I called her back, she told me "Sheleg has a tumor on his spleen and needs an emergency operation!" I started crying. I was just so scared. I didn’t think it would be so serious. He went through the operation the next day already, and came out the same day home. The vet told us he took out the tumor and the spleen and that he drained fluids from Sheleg’s stomach. Sheleg came home a lean dog, but was his old natured self within a few days. We all gave a big sigh of relief. Even more of a relief was the fact that the biopsy on the tumor came back saying it was benign.
A month had passed. My mum told me again that Sheleg wasn’t his old self, but when I came to take him out for a walk he seemed fine. "It’s just with you", my mum said, "he’s just so happy to be with you that he would do anything for you! With me and your dad he hardly has it in him to walk". My parents left on vacation and I was staying at home with Sheleg. I was actually quite thrilled to be able to spend time with him again. I even thought I’d be going early to work after walking him, and then coming back early to walk him in the early afternoon. But it wasn’t meant to be. I went for a walk with him and all of a sudden he just peed and immediately wanted to go home. I couldn’t believe it. My dog, who so loved to run, didn’t want to go on a walk. I became scared again. We went back to the vet. His blood count was down and the vet said he thinks it’s an auto immune sickness where his white blood cells were attacking his red ones. He started him on shots and pills. I still believed he would make it through.
After three days of treatment and daily check – ups, his blood count was still deteriorating. He wasn’t reacting to the treatment. I even noticed him coughing and panting heavily, even though he was simply lying down. I told the vet about it and she decided to give him an X-ray. When the X-ray came out, she showed me there were white spots where black air should have been. It appears the tumor wasn’t benign like we thought it was, and that it had second growths in Sheleg’s lungs. She told me I would have to consider the inevitable.
I couldn’t believe it! He was just 7! I thought he would at least live to the age of 14! I always imagined my future kids getting to know him, riding his back, finding a friend in him just as I have. I couldn’t say goodbye, there had to be something else we could do! At the very least, I thought I would keep him another week, till my parents come back, as I know how much they love him.
The next day, we drove with him to the animal hospital. I couldn’t sleep or eat. I had to hear from them something different, that something can be done. For half a day they did check – ups on Sheleg. I think he didn’t have a foot that didn’t have a needle in it that day, and his stomach was shaven again for the ultrasound. The vet came in and told me "He has second growths not only in his lungs but also between his liver and kidney, and his stomach is bleeding" "Can’t we leave him another week?" "No Ella, think about it, even as we speak, he’s bleeding. You should do it either today or tomorrow at the very latest. He seems like he’s not suffering now, but the bleeding can cause him to die at any minute." I had nothing left to say. All I wanted to do was to cry, but I had to make all the proper arrangements for the next day.
Friday, June 27, 2008 we had put Sheleg down. I came to terms with it as I saw how short our walks became in that last day – he literally just went down to pee and wanted to go back home. He wasn’t able to eat much. And he was always tired and panting. He even started whimpering. I knew I should put him out of his misery, but we still came half an hour late to our appointment in the morning, as I just couldn’t say goodbye…
We buried him beneath a lemon tree, in a quiet scenic spot, and put stones to mark the place. He looked like he was sleeping. I wanted it to be not too far from home, so I could visit him when I wanted to. The house seemed so empty when we came back.
Sheleg, I just wanted you to know, I love you. I miss you. I hope you have found the peace you so rightfully deserve.
This week, I had the great pleasure of going to the 19th Annual Regional Conference which Gartner was holding in Tel Aviv. The subject was “Driving Profits and Performance with ICT”. I really wanted to share with you what fascinated me most there, a lecture about BI Governance from Andreas Bitterer - Research Vice President Data Management and Integration, Business Intelligence.
Business Intelligence Governance
When an organization decides to implement a BI solution, it often faces the following problems:
· BI is not a project, but rather a program – after you initiate a BI program, you find you gradually add more users and more data to it. Thus, as time goes by, you need to invest continuously in BI in the organization. Work doesn't finish on BI like work can be finished on a project. This concept needs to be dealt with in organizations building BI.
· Sharing data in the organization also demands that the different units in the organization overcome internal politics that exist within the organization
· Too much BI software - the organization runs BI software from too many different vendors.
· The data quality problem - fixing and managing data. Data, more often than not, needs to be cleansed and checked. You need to have someone taking responsibility for the data.
· Excel as front-end tool, not a DWH - too often, you find that organizations store their data in many excel files and so managing the data, understanding it and connecting it, becomes too difficult and complicated.
· Define simply and accurately the question that needs to be answered - defining business terms and questions accurately will help you, the BI analyst and developer, answer your customers needs more easily.
Every organization that implements BI and wants to manage it wisely should create a BI Governance Team. The team should include IT workers and Business representatives from all the organization’s departments. Together, they should create a paper for the BI strategy of the organization. The paper should sum up the requirements (from the business representatives), look at the available resources and then prioritize the requirements. The paper should become the roadmap for the organization for the subject of BI.
Current trends in the world of BI:
1. Standardizing the BI platform in the organization - buying from as few vendors as possible, according to our requirements as an organization.
2. Deploying to users outside the organization – partners, suppliers and customers
3. Integrated solution for enterprise applications (such as ERP) and BI
4. Growing use of predictive analysis and data mining for planning and forecasting (moving from looking at our past in BI reports, to forecasting our future).
Though MR. Bitterer believes we will see more powerhouses (one stop shop vendors), he also believes that co-opetition will continue. You can (and will be able to) run one tool from one vendor on top of another tool from another vendor (BO which is owned by SAP can run on top of Microsoft's SQL Server).
Last but not least, I would like to thank Ron Shani, Itzik Ben David and Hamada Kais who gave me the opportunity to be in this very interesting conference – thank you!