If you’ve ever loved a dog, you can relate to the kind of loving bonds that transcend, in a different way, those that bind you to various people in your life.
I grew up in a home that did not have a dog. And, until 11 years ago, I never really experienced the kind of omnipresent connection inherent in caring for a canine whose human-like traits and characteristics truly define best friend. Better.
Remy was just a few weeks old when I first met him – he smiled at me – and I knew in that moment that he was supposed to be with us. That little wagging bundle of energy was a present for my wife, Gay, and he was the best present I’ve ever given to her, for the pure gifts of love he gave to us.
My wife likes to joke that if you locked your spouse and your dog in a trunk of a car, which one would really be glad to see you 20 minutes later? Such extreme example was merely meant to underscore the reality of a dog’s unfailing love, loyalty and gratitude.
About six months after we brought Remy home, we took him to a trainer. They tried to teach him – and they tried to help us teach him. In the end, we have concluded, Remy trained us – to understand him, to be responsive to his needs and to be more like him in our appreciation of simple things.
During these past several years, Remy has been in the middle of our lives, in the best ways. No one I’ve ever known begins every day with as much happiness as that dog – for the simple pleasure of having another day of basic things that matter most: friends, family, fun – and, of course, food. I like the story about never doubting that dogs can count — because if you put three treats in your pocket and only give him two, he is going to impatiently make you produce #3 before ever leaving your side. Brilliant.
Long walks on the beach were Remy’s favorite thing in nature – but all dogs love nature. Every first moment of going outside, he would just sit, or stand, seeing, smelling and feeling his total environs. My wife called it the moments when Remy was “reading the newspaper” of the outdoors.
My favorite picture of my wife is one in which Remy jumped up on the couch to be next to her, right before the photographer snapped the picture. Her natural loving smile was triggered by the even larger one Remy flashed just to be with her for that moment.
Last week, we learned that Remy was wracked with cancer and internal bleeding. His courageous efforts to stand, walk, wag and be ‘normal’ the past few weeks surprised two vets – and it’s clear that he overcame great pain just valiantly trying to be our same Remy, more to please us than because he felt good.
We had to do the right thing – and let Remy go. We didn’t expect that news – and I did not get to hug him goodbye, because I was on a business trip out of state. But he was eased on with loving words from my wife, daughter Julie and a friend, Stefanie. I spoke into his ear via cell phone, while standing in an airport – to thank him and to remind him he was the best dog in the world.
The tears have been flowing ever since. And the house is rather empty without that 90-pound flurry of furr following our every movement, and hanging on our every word.
People who can relate to such love and loss have poured out kind comments and share this special knowledge. It should be universal. A home without a dog is missing an opportunity to learn more about life than we’ll have ever time to learn without such a friend.
Thanks, Remy, for being there – for everything. We will never forget you.