The following is, essentially, a love story. And like all the best love stories, it ends with a broken heart. For everyone who has loved, and lost, this one is for you.
About a Boy
My first impression of him? Well, he was dirty, loud and kind of obnoxious. I won’t mention the smell. Okay, I will. Quite frankly, he stunk. Bad. He gave off the aroma of old socks, soggy barnyard grass and manure, with an undertone of wet dog.
“Is that him?” I asked the breeder.
“Yup, that’s him all right. He’s a bit of a wild one.”
Wild? He wasn’t wild. He was 15 pounds of mayhem wrapped in a hurricane and doused in kerosene. I watched him tear up the yard, stopping occasionally to bark maniacally at thin air. Really, I’m not sure why we even agreed to let him in the car. Oh wait, I remember.
It was that face.
If you’ve never seen a French Bulldog before, let me describe one to you. They are part bulldog, part potbellied pig, and part Tasmanian devil. In essence, they are cuteness personified. The smooshed in face, the bat ears, the stubby tail that never stops wagging – he stole my heart – stole it and ate it for breakfast.
We named him Rufus. Really, it was the only name that suited him. He looked like a Rufus. He acted like a Rufus. He was Rufus to the core. After a quick family meeting, we signed the papers and put him in the back of the car, where he showed his appreciation by peeing all over the new dog bed we had so carefully picked out for him. On the drive home, we worried about our new puppy. Would he be scared? He was a rescue, after all, and had already experienced so much upheaval in his young life.
Upon arriving home, however, we quickly discovered our fears were unfounded. Rufus hopped out of the car without coaxing and strolled right through the front door like he owned the place. I have to say, the sun shone a little brighter in our house that day, as it did every day for the next 15 years.
Rufus wasn’t just a dog, he was my best friend. Since I work at home, he was my constant companion, my little furry shadow who followed me everywhere. Rufus loved everyone and the feeling was mutual, in fact, we used to joke that he wasn’t a dog at all, but a person in a fur suit. I know better now – Rufus wasn’t a mere human – no person I’ve ever met loved that unconditionally.
I called him my little hairy sun. Not son. Sun. He lit up the room with his antics. I think we’d only had him a week when we discovered he liked to sing. My oldest was playing the piano, and I heard this mournful howl. There was the dog, lying by the piano bench, head back, eyes shut, singing with everything he had, an activity that became part of our daily routine. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can still hear him, accompanied by my daughter’s careful notes.
We had to put him down last year, but don’t be sad. Rufus had a happy life, full of love and belly scratches. He was on my lap, tucked under a blanket when he left this plane for the next. For the rest of my life, there will be a French Bulldog sized hole in my heart that will never stop aching, but I wouldn’t trade one minute of the time I had with him for anything.
For good dogs everywhere, thank you. Thank you for the wags, and the snorts, and joy you bring. Thank you for the warm greetings after a long day. Thank you for your unbridled enthusiasm for every single damn thing. Most of all, thank you for bringing happiness when we need it the most.
(Thanks to J. Brown West for the awesome drawing of my boy, Rufus! Follow my talented friend on Twitter – @jbrown_west.)
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