Collecting my thoughts these past few hours has been extremely tough. But I owe it to Rudy to take a stab at it.
We said goodbye to Rudy, my childhood dog and closest friend, on Sunday. It was, without question, the toughest day of my life.
We got Rudy on December 26, 2009 from a Havanese breeder in Madison, Connecticut. He was one of six in his litter. We originally had our eyes on his brother (they called him “Leo” while they waited for someone to give him an official name), but a hernia prevented anyone from calling dibs on him. So naturally, with this little guy kept finding his way towards us, and we brought home Rudy.
Rudy and 7th-grade Jake became pretty good friends. We did a lot together; I’d chase him around the house, try to catch him as he ran in circles around our front yard, and was a tough out as a tug-of-war opponent. Rudy always counted on me to save a couple bites of whatever I had for dinner that night, too…maybe that’s why I earned his trust so quickly.
You hear a lot about the “unconditional love” dogs bring families. Sure; he wasn’t the most well-behaved around other dogs, had his fair share of accidents in the house, and barked at super-inconvenient times (especially with my dad working from home while we grew up). But at the end of the day, he was there to celebrate accomplishments (no matter how big or small), to console after loss or grief, and to cuddle when you just needed to rest…even if he, himself, was in pain.
Those that are close to me know that the start of 2021 (last year...feels like yesterday) was not ideal. I spent a good chunk of the first few weeks of January in the doctors office; my voice had totally given out on me, I was having trouble swallowing and speaking, and was left with more anxiety over it than I thought could exist.
With endoscopes, videostroboscopies, and speech therapy on the horizon, I came back to Connecticut around this time last year and spent a few weeks with my parents. As soon as I walked through the door, who was there to greet me? Rudy. While he knew not of my situation, he saw the distressed look on my face, and sat with me all night…unwavering in his willingness to console, to be a good friend, and to love. After all, he knew what it was like to not be feeling like yourself.
It was a crushing reality that one year and 6 days to the date from that day I walked in my parents house, we had to say goodbye. We all knew this day was coming - his kidneys had soared to astronomically-unhealthy levels and he may have suffered a spinal stroke - but it doesn’t make it any small bit easier. How do you say goodbye to such a family staple? How can you let go?
The truth is, I really don’t know; it’ll be a process for me, too. But the least I can do is tell the story of the one, true staple of my childhood.
To my friend, my brother, and my confidant, Rudy: I’ll see you on the other side, buddy.