[Post Updated: 2016 May 31]
With a broken and aching heart, I write to share that Rookie took his last breath in my arms two nights ago. He was a good and faithful dog.
He was also my baby, my companion, my buddy, my clown, my nursemaid, my bodyguard, my friend, my joy.
He was my shadow, following me everywhere I went, always a step or two behind, even following me into the bathroom to guard the door.
He was my nursemaid, sitting next to me or on me when I wasn’t feeling well, putting his little paw on my cheek and staring into my eyes.
He had a sense of humor. He was silly at times. He loved to play games and pull pranks, sometimes putting his blanket over his head and waiting for me to ask “Where’s Rookie?” before coming out with a big goofy grin.
He had a kind heart, as he proved time and time again. On one occasion, instead of chasing a small one-legged bird from my garden, he came to a complete and sudden stop from a full sprint, sitting down a few feet from the injured bird, allowing him to hop around to eat little seeds on the ground. And, oh, how he loved chasing birds, squirrels, and cats, running and leaping across the backyard, tail wagging away, with pure joy.
He was extremely intelligent, not only knowing the name of every toy – and he had well over a hundred of them – but he seemed to understand everything, always listening, always finding creative ways to communicate with us. We often found ourselves having to spell words around him, but even that only worked for a short while, eventually he would figure out, for instance, that ‘cat’ and ‘c-a-t’ referred to his nemeses. If you are going to be a poodle parent, they always warn you, “Make sure you are smarter than the poodle.” And you won’t know how true that is until you bring a poodle into your life.
He was a bundle of love, intuitive and kind, in ways humans have difficulty achieving. And, out of duty or love, he was fiercely protective and brave, as well.
He loved road trips, especially riding top-down in my Miata, nose to the wind.
Rookie was an AKC-registered purebred 13.5-pound miniature poodle from a very long line of award-winning champion red poodles. He always stood like a champion, agile and athletic, with an innate sense of elegance and grace, and a proud and confidant prance-walk.
He was a special dog in countless ways, but I fell in love with his kind eyes and gentle soul the day we met. He was only seven weeks old, slightly bigger than my hand.
I have an ache in my heart and a hole in my soul that will never be filled.
In times of tragedy, especially, I write and I fall back on my Catholic upbringing and pray, but I also find comfort in poetry and song, such is the nature of art and faith. One poem and one song that have spoken to my anger and grief in the past were The Rolling Stones’ Painted Black, and W. H. Auden’s Funeral Blues, sometimes referred to by its first line, Stop All the Clocks.
It is once again in Auden’s words I find expression and understanding for the depth of my love and grief that I feel now.
I don’t think you can ever get over the loss of someone you love, you just drag yourself and move from moment to moment in your life. You go through the motions of living. You hope against hope that the distance of time helps ease the pain, but sometimes you just learn to hide it better.
I love Rookie beyond words and will miss him with a broken heart for the rest of my life, but I know with time I will learn to hide it better, just not now. Not now.
In more than ten years, we never spent a night apart and every one of those nights ended with my saying “Night-Night, Rookie.”
Tonight I add, reluctantly, “Rest in Peace.”
Martie Hevia (c) All Rights Reserved