I have found that there are things in life that a person realizes can happen, but you never ever expect them to happen to you. These are things like dying in a freak roller coaster accident, winning the Powerball, or contracting a rare, fatal tropical disease while honeymooning in Fiji. These things do happen, but it never crosses my mind that they can happen to me because they are fluke events, right?
On Monday night I got to live one of those “it will never happen to me” fluke moments, but not the good kind like the Powerball. No, this was that really tragic moment when you watch (seemingly in slow motion) as your 8 month old puppy darts into the street after a cat as you stand helplessly in the yard with his leash in your hand.
And it was a total fluke, but that doesn’t make me feel much better.
I was leashing the dogs in the front yard, and, as usual, I put Oswald’s leash on first and turned around to put Rupert’s on. For some reason, one of the gates was open slightly and when I looked up he was standing on the other side of the fence looking at me with his tail wagging. No big deal. But then, as I started to call him back, a cat with the world’s worst timing decided to scamper across the street and pure hound instinct flooded Rupert’s body- he was in full chase mode. Usually this wouldn’t have been a big deal, as this was late in the evening and our street is quiet at that time, but my sweet puppy managed to dart directly in front of the only car that had driven down the street in a ten minute period.
That was his last chase.
Once the feeling of disbelief faded the feeling of emptiness set in pretty quickly That was followed quickly by feelings of guilt and unfairness.
If I’d taken them for their walk earlier would this have happened?
If I’d paid more attention and noticed the gate would that have prevented it?
And how is it that I see other dogs wandering loose all the time in the neighborhood and nothing happens to them?
Why was is it my sweet, happy, loving puppy that was just getting going with life the one that was there in that exact moment?
I’m a great dog owner, so why did this happen to me?
Why, why, why, why, why? The why’s could go on forever. Over the last few days I’ve come to realize that there is no answer to the why’s, that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and it isn’t fair when they do. It’s just a fluke thing.
My little buddy had a great life. Based on my teaching schedule (summer’s off!) and now my career change (applying for nursing school), I have literally spent all but two weeks at home with him since we rescued him from the levee when he was 7 weeks old. I watched him blossom into the most playful and loving dog that aimed to please me all the time and loved to spend his days going for runs and chewing sticks.
The night before he died my Dad was in town and we had gone to visit some friends for dinner. Rupert came along so he could play with their black lab, Bud, and he also had a blast rolling in the remains of the fish that the guys had caught earlier that day. Then we took him to our local pub where he cruised around making friends and finally learned how to sit still on a bar stool. It was, unknowingly, a pretty perfect last night.
Since his death, I’ve been amazed at how many people reached out to me about him. He had such a way about him that he could even win over people that weren’t “dog people”. I’ve had other people that have never met him tell me that through seeing pictures on Facebook and reading the blog they still felt like they knew him well. He was loved by so many. I’ve had other dogs before, but this dog really was extra special.
I planned on spending a good 14 or so years with Rupert, but I’m still grateful for the 6 months I got. I will miss him as my running partner, my canine shadow, my comic relief, and my cuddler. He was my sidekick in every sense of the word.
I know from experience that time heals all, and it will, but for now there is a big hound-sized hole in my heart. And it sucks. I can only hope that he found a big levee up in the sky and he’s currently trotting off into the sunset.