Friday, January 16, 2009

Saying Goodbye

We had to say goodbye to our dear corgi dog, Rupert this week. He was 14 years old, and had been with us for almost exactly 13 of them.

In 1996, we had already had corgis for some years and bred a few litters, and one day the local animal shelter called to say that they had a grown female corgi and asked if we might know who it belonged to. I drove over to have a look at the dog and discovered a half-grown male corgi, bouncy and cute as a button, and I knew from the moment I laid eyes on him that he was My Dog.

I asked the shelter folks if they had had a look under this dog, because it was clearly male. I said that he was 6 to 9 months old and wouldn't bother lifting his leg to pee until he got a little older. Being so close to the ground, he didn't really see the point! I told them we wanted him if no one came to claim him as a lost dog, and then we had to wait 3 weeks before they would release him.

.I went off to teach & then take a class at the Folk School - it was a very long two weeks to be away from my young family and I worried that someone would come & take my new dog while I was gone. The family visited him and when I returned from North Carolina he came home to stay. The girls named him Rupert after the English cartoon bear that wears the yellow checked trousers - their English grandmother had given them several annuals of Rupert cartoons.

Rupert was the best dog in the whole world. He loved to ride in the car, and wanted to go with me everywhere. I brought him to work with me and he made friends with all the Bluemont staff over the years and with everyone who came in the door. We walked around the Clarke County park for exercise, we walked around Leesburg to run errands, he once climbed all the way to the top of Old Rag mountain with Peter & me. He was always by my side if I was upset or ill, wanting to offer comfort in his doggie way.

But he lost his companion Wiley about a year ago, and he was up in years for a corgi. He was in good form until about 6 months ago when he started climbing the stairs like a slalom instead of bounding straight up. He lost the spring in his back legs - I had to give him a power assist boost to get into the car. The vet said he had bone spurs and an NSAID helped, but he lost his appetite at the beginning of December and we had to tempt him with all manner of food and feed him by hand.

I knew he was getting ready to leave us, and when he refused food of any kind, we watched him carefully for several days. On Tuesday he wanted to come in the car with me but had to be lifted in, and when I got to work he didn't want to get out of the car. I realized that it hurt him to be moved, and that the time had come. I carried him into the office and worked until evening, and then I took him to our vet.

At the vet's office, I stayed with him and talked to him as we waited, and after they gave him a sedative I told him that we loved him and wanted him to have a good journey. I said this for every member of our family - Peter loves you and he says goodbye, Lily Rose, Hannah, Ruby, and then every other person I could think of who was dear to him - Tex, Nathan, Jill, Sue. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and surely one of the most important.

We love you, Rupert. We miss you. You were loved by many people. The cats are pretending that they don't care, but I know for a fact that they miss you, too.


kelly said...

Aw, that's so hard. Hugs and warm wishes to all of you. We know we are approaching that same point with our Lab (sixteen years!) and so I sympathize entirely. Sounds like you handled it the best way you could for all of you, it's good to know he felt your love to the very end.

Jodie said...

Aw man Aunt Melissa... I'm not usually the emotional type but that made me teary-eyed! It reminds me so much of when we put our Tawny dog down. It was so sad, even though we knew it was what had to be done. That is the only time I've ever seen my dad cry. They are a member of the family. And Rupert, just like Tawny, will always be family, remembered and loved!

ruby said...

thanks mom, that was really nice to read, although i cried the whole time. I'm hugging the knit corgi you gave me though, I really really appreciate him and he sleeps in my bed every night. love you!

Sally said...

It's something about the smell, I could never love a dog but I found Rupert was a sweetheart and not a nudge. So, thanks for the thoughtful goodbye to a sweet soul and a nice furry guy. Love you and yours.

TheYarnLounge said...

I completely understand. Reading your account of Rupert, it sounds very similar to how Homer let me know it was time for him to go, too. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do but I didn't have one second of regret. We had a great life together and I miss him terribly but now I know he's hanging with Mr. Rupert.