Farewell to Our Forever Dog

Two weeks ago I typed this:

I am still shocked. A month ago I would have never guessed the smallest symptom would actually be the clue to the most heart wrenching diagnosis for our dog. Our lovely Rudie, despite the best care at the Western Veterinary Centre and the huge love of her owners and her massive extended fan club, was not going to be able to overcome this challenge in the way we so wished. What followed was the decision that our heads knew was the very best, most loving, most humane act but our hearts were screaming “No, not now, not yet, not ever!” She and I spent every day together this year, side by side, as I navigated through my full-time course load at grad school. She stayed up until 3 am with me (she did the sleeping for both of us), nudged at my elbow when it was time for some fresh air and a walk, listened to endless hours of editing read aloud, dodged flying wads of Kleenex as I cried with the fear I couldn’t do the work, and above all she was there for me and with me…tirelessly, reliably, lovingly, loyally. Just as she always had been for my husband her entire 12 years of life and for me for the 6 years since I joined their pack. We were a family.

Photo by Flare Photography

I am so terribly sad. Without her the house is deafeningly quiet. It feels like a vacuum is continually sucking something out. This version of quiet is so loud my ears ache. Rudie was a quiet, well mannered, easy going girl…anything but noisy. But her beautiful presence filled up this home in a way I did not fully realize when she was here. So it is not a noise that is missing, it is a presence that is absent. It makes my heart ache.

In the days and weeks following our farewell I realize there are a million crummy firsts. I am trying to reframe these as a million special reminders showing me how embedded Rudie was in even the tiniest moments of every single day. The first time I mowed the lawn without having to throw a tennis ball so carefully laid in my path. The first morning not giving her a big belly rub before letting her outside. The first thunderstorm during which she did not need to be reassured and comforted. The first load of groceries I brought into the house which weren’t thoroughly inspected by that awesome lab nose. The first walk through the neighbourhood without her by my side. The firsts are seemingly endless right now and they are such a glaring reminder of her absence but also of the magnitude of her presence while she was here. I believe our hearts are forever changed by the love we share with a pet. A part of us that would otherwise not bubble to the surface is released through this relationship. I know it hurts so much right now because the time together was so fantastic. Big love means the potential for big loss. However, I would not trade the love to spare me the loss. I would never sacrifice the fun, the silliness, the adventures, the connection, the companionship, the joy just to ensure I didn’t one day feel the way I feel right now. The love far out weighs the loss, and one day in the future the love will also eclipse this loss. But in this moment the hurt takes my breath away.

In a year in which the themes of my learning have been openness, sharing, community, connections, and the power of stories I thought it was fitting to share the beautiful lessons I learned from our Rudie dog.

Life Lessons from My Dog

  • Greet everyone
  • Stick together
  • Do what you love
  • Be in the moment
  • There is always room to add to the pack
  • Don’t be shy to show your enthusiasm and passion
  • Smile often
  • Be loyal to your people
  • Love and live large
  • A positive attitude never lets you down
  • Be open—to new people, new experiences, new places, new adventures
  • Fresh air and a good walk always put life into perspective
  • Forgive and forget (Thanks, Jeff!)
  • Never miss the chance to nap (Thanks, Sarah!)
  • Always eat more than one cookie in a sitting (Thanks again, Sarah!)
  • Don’t judge (Thanks, Lindsay!)
  • Go as hard as you can for as long as you can (Thanks, Norm and Marilyn!)
  • Kisses are for everyone (Thank you, Stephen and Murphy!)
  • It’s okay to lie down in any place, at any time (Thanks again, Stephen and Murphy!)

The love is deep, the memories are beautiful, and I am forever grateful. Farewell sweet girl…until we meet again. xo

I wonder: What lessons would you add to this list that you have learned from your pet?

15 thoughts on “Farewell to Our Forever Dog

  1. I think I would add ‘forgive and forget’ to the list. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled at Nino (pooping on the carpet, chewing up the bottom of my beautiful couch, stealing a sock as I was trying to fold laundry…..just to name a few).
    But no matter how angry I was, and how he gives me the puppy dog eyes when he knows he’s done something wrong – 5 minutes later – the love, joy, and devotion are back.

    We can all learn a lesson about moving on.

    Great post Tannis!

    • Thanks for your comment, Jeff! You are absolutely right about the lesson of moving on. I will certainly add “forgive and forget” to the list above. Thank you!

  2. This is such a beautiful, heart-wrenching farewell to such a wonderful dog. I am in tears. I would add the following to the lessons: “Never miss the chance to nap” and “Always eat more than one cookie in a sitting”! Thank you for the love-filled lessons Rudie taught my babies. They are richer for it and for knowing her. You’ve honoured her so well with your words, Tan. xxx

    • Thank you, Sarah for your comment. My heart is happy knowing the love your children and Rudie shared. It was magical to see and there are many special memories from those times together. I am adding your 2 great suggestions to the list above! xo

  3. Brought tears to my eyes. I agree, dogs teach forgiveness. Even when you have been mad at them, they still love you! And they don’t judge.

    I still can’t get over the similarities between Rudie and our dog Ryot…

    It does get easier but the memories will always be there.

    • Lindsay, thank you so much for your comment and your support. I’d love to see a photo of Ryot. I am so biased to labs but there is really something so incredible about them and those faces! I melt!! I saw a black lab as I went into Safeway last night and he was so dutifully waiting for his owner. It took my breath away because it looked just like our Rudie. Thanks again, I appreciate it!

  4. Rest in peace, Rudie. We never met, but you shared your mom with me, and I’ll be forever grateful for that. I don’t think I’ll add any of the lessons my cats teach me. Most of them aren’t as nice as the ones Rudie taught you! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Rick. Ah the lessons from cats are grand as well. They have life figured out pretty nicely for themselves. I share an equal love for the dogs and cats of the world.

  5. What a lovely tribute for our dear Rudie. She left us a bundle of great memories. Another life lesson that Rudie taught us is “Go as hard as you can, for as long as you can”.

    • Thank you for you comment! Rudie loved her time in Medicine Hat with the seniors. She felt right at home with the pace, the freedom and the easy going attitude. I often said she came home “undomesticated” from her trips to the Hat…following her own rules and all routines flew out the window. Is that what you seniors are all about?! I will certainly add your lesson to the list above; it is so true. Thank you for loving her as deeply as you did…you were on her “favourites” list!

  6. Murphy and I just read your post. She says she wishes she could have met Rudie – she says Rudie looks like a ‘good dog!’.

    Murph says to add,”Kisses are for everyone” and “It’s okay to lie down in any place, at any time”. She also says,”Trim your nails regularly”, but I told her you probably already know that.

    • Thanks a million for your comment, Stephen and Murphy! I will definitely add your lessons to the master list. Murphy, while you are in Calgary have a river swim for my girl!

  7. My pup Jack passed on after taking me through life for almost 15 years. He was my best friend. I am the woman who suffered through a lot of pain. I had 13 surgeries after the initial first , breast implant. Jack, my border collie, my first pup carried me through when humans in my life were not there for me . Jack saved my life ! I will always credit him for that, will always love home and will always cry when I think of him! My baby,y best friend. The one who was always with me until he passed .

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