I meant to write this post several days ago, but life got in the way. I'm writing it now because today I learned that life is short, and so fragile.
Rudy was found wandering in a strip mall parking lot. He was taken to an animal shelter where he lived for a month. In 2004, my husband, Mister Pawpower, was looking for a dog to train for his guide. We found Rudy on pet finder, and decided to meet him.
He was living in a small animal shelter on the north shore of the lake pontchartrain, and some very kind shelter volunteers brought him over so we could meet him.
I knew when I first saw him that he'd be a wonderful guide. The one thing about Rudy was that he was so full of life. He loved going, it didn't matter where, as long as he was going.
Training him was a very difficult job. Rudy loved to go, and he wanted to be the one who decided the destination. He loved looking down the perpendicular streets as he guided Mister Pawpower. It didn't matter how we traveled, as long as we were traveling.
He rode buses, streetcars, cars, trains, and airplanes. Getting the harness on him was always such a challenge because he'd get so excited he couldn't hold still. He loved it best when Mill'E-Max, or Laveau and I were traveling with Mister Pawpower and him. He had his favorite places, and while some of them, like Wendy's restaurant were logical, he also adored Walgreens. He could find any Walgreens anywhere. I've frequently said that Walgreens should hire Rudy as their spokesdog because he loved it there. He loved airports, and shopping malls, and the french quarter.
At home, he was a laid back dude; preferring to nap in a patch of sun on the floor or in his crate as opposed to chasing balls. His favorite treat was pizza, and whenever we would order out, he would wait patiently for Mister Pawpower to bring the box inside. Then he would give the pizza an "honor guard" all the way into the kitchen. He would start grumbling if we didn't share. He ignored every other type of food, but pizza was just too good for him to decline.
In June of last year, Rudy was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. He slowly, and very unwillingly began easing into a life of semi-retirement. Mister Pawpower works from home, so he was able to work Rudy on trips to the store, or the coffee shop.
Today Mister Pawpower was in the tub when Rudy came and hung his head over the side and began nudging to go outside. Mister Pawpower let him out, but when he called the dogs back inside, Rudy didn't come. In his younger days, Rudy was a bit of an escape artist. Thinking that he had had a relapse of judgement, Mister Pawpower began scouring the neighborhood for signs of Rudy. He couldn't find a trace of him.
He went into the back yard to try and locate the place in the fence where Rudy may have gotten out, and instead he found that Rudy had died while out in the yard.
It was very shocking and horrible. I got the call at work, and I called the vet to come while making my way home.
When I got out of my friend's car, I saw the vet tech standing there with Rudy's 85 pound body in his arms. I knew then that Rudy was gone. Rudy was the kind of dog who went places on his own four feet, or he didn't go at all. I've never seen him so still, and quiet in a person's arms before today. I ran up and touched him on the leg. I just couldn't believe he had gone.
When you live through a situation like this, all of the "what if's" crash down upon you with merciless force. What if I hadn't gone to work and stayed home and had found him in time to do CPR. And What if I had missed some kind of crucial signal that he was unwell.
Two days ago, Mister Pawpower and I harnessed up Rudy and Mill'E-Max for a jaunt to our local coffee shop. Rudy was just as thrilled as always to get up and go. He loved the coffee shop. He loved working and getting out there.
Our vet has examined him and has determined that he died of heart failure which is sadly, very common in larger breed dogs.
We are all at such a loss. He has left a huge gaping hole in our lives.
Go in Peace, Rudy Dude. You will always be remembered with love. May you run fast and free, and your road be ever-open.
Walk within You
By Nicolas Evans
If I be the first of us to die,
Let grief not blacken long your sky.
Be bold yet modest in your grieving.
There is a change but not a leaving.
For just as death is part of life,
The dead live on forever in the living.
And all the gathered riches of our journey,
The moments shared, the mysteries explored,
The steady layering of intimacy stored,
The things that made us laugh or weep or sing,
The joy of sunlit snow or first unfurling of the spring,
The wordless language of look and touch,
Each giving and each taking,
These are not flowers that fade,
Nor trees that fall and crumble,
Nor are they stone,
For even stone cannot the wind and rain withstand
And mighty mountain peaks in time reduce to sand.
What we were, we are.
What we had, we have.
A conjoined past imperishably present.
So when you walk the wood where once we walked together
And scan in vain the dappled bank beside you for my shadow,
Or pause where we always did upon the hill to gaze across the land,
And spotting something, reach by habit for my hand,
And finding none, feel sorrow start to steal upon you,
Close your eyes.
Listen for my footfall in your heart.
I am not gone but merely walk within you.