The Dog Who Taught me Everything Will be All Right

I found my dog, Rupert, in a parking lot of a construction site fourteen years ago.  He was covered in matted fur, caked in mud and home to a multitude of bugs.  He was so malnourished he couldn’t walk. But he had these amazing, deep, liquid brown eyes that spoke right to my soul.  I knew he belonged to me.

I rolled out a yoga mat in the backseat of my car, picked him up—bugs and all, placed his scrawny little body in my car and drove him home.  I called my husband on the way and told him I had found a dog but we needed to nurse him back to health before we turned him into the pound because in his current condition he’d be euthanized.  I’m not sure if my husband ever really believed my lie but he played along.  I remember the look on my husband and current dog’s faces when they came back from the store with flea and tick shampoo and they saw me hosing down this disgusting looking creature in the bathtub.  Like, “what has this crazy woman gone and done now?”  My husband and our dog were not thrilled. 

I insisted on naming him—even though we “weren’t keeping him.”  He wasn’t a good looking dog.  He looked like Saddam Hussein when they pulled him out of his hidey hole.  I toyed with the name or some variation of it for a while.  But at the end of the day I’m not the kind of gal who wants to cuddle up to a murderous dictator so Saddam Hussein was off the list.  The show Survivor was a big hit at the time.  It had a quirky yet lovable participant, with a big mane of wild shaggy hair and a beard that would put a hipster to shame, named Rupert.  Turns out I am the kind of girl who can cuddle up with a hairy weirdo.

Spoiler alert:  we never got rid of Rupert.  Days turned into weeks and weeks into months and at some point Rupert just became part of the family.  He was never a cuddly dog.  I suspect someone beat his hind quarters because he never liked being touched on his rear.  And even on good days he didn’t want any part of him rubbed for more than a minute or two.  He just wanted to be with his people.  He would follow me around and just be with me.  He didn’t need or want anything from me.  He didn’t care if I walked him or didn’t walk him, it made no difference to him.  If I threw a ball for him he’d look at me like, “huh, not sure what you’re up to, lady, but you’re gonna have to get your own damned ball.”  I used to joke that my assistant and my dog Rupert were the only two things in the world who needed nothing from me.  Once I had children of the two-legged variety this became a quality I cherished beyond measure.

Being a working mom I feel like my entire day is about fixing and doing and giving for everyone:  children, husband, friends, clients, church, charity, and, and, and…The list never actually ends.  As grateful as I am for each and every thing on the list and though I give joyfully and willingly of myself, sometimes mama needs a break.  And when I take a time out I love that I’ve had my furry weirdo to share the moment with.

Yesterday after fourteen years of selfless service I had to send my parking lot dirt dog to Heaven.  Truthfully his trip was long past due.  We had been telling our children for the last three years that Rupert might not be with us much longer.  It got to the point that when new people would come to the house my boys would introduce their dog as “Rupert, who is probably going to die soon.”  But selfishly I didn’t want to let go of that one safe place in my life.  That one being in the world who wanted and needed nothing from me.  Until part of me recognized that this dog might not be letting go because I was refusing to let go.  And that in fact he did need something from me.  So I gave it to him.  Finally and with a broken heart I thanked him for getting me through all the crazy and I thanked him for teaching me that everything will be always all right.

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