This is the Dog – Part I

I miss Rudy.

And I never thought I’d say that.

Rudy was 8 weeks old when we “bought” him from a breeder. Just a baby like his owners. Like most couples, this was our first foray into responsibility.

We rented an apartment in Cobble Hill, with a landlord who didn’t care if we had a dog. She never said “no dogs allowed” so I just assumed that meant getting a canine was no big deal. She was more upset I refused to pay rent until my windows could lock.

We didn’t know a thing about dogs. Or crate training. Or shedding and chewing everything in sight.

So we let Rudy destroy the place. He chewed the Ikea “Lack” tables. He ate the garbage. He peed freely. And after a year, we moved out to a bigger apartment with a fully trained dog thanks to Tyril Frith. They called him the “Dog Whisperer of Prospect Park. Six lessons later, Rudy, the Yellow Lab, was the Golden Boy.

After 9/11, we ran for the hills, to Westchester County. Everyone asked where Rudy was trained. He was the best behaved dog for miles.

But Rudy wasn’t loving.

He never put his head in my lap.

Three tennis balls in his mouth was de rigueur.

Rudy ran and ran, salivating tongue out to the ground, ears flopping in the breeze. He came to me to eat and get treats, then back to his bed to grunt.

For 13.5 years we lived with him. Through the birth of our son to whom he paid no mind, likely for being mostly blind at age 10.

Yet this hurt even more. We even took him to an animal behaviorist to make sure he wouldn’t eat Jesse, but as it turned out – he cared as little for him as he did for us.

The only one Rudy truly loved was my mother in law, who’s luggage he’d pillage upon landing from Florida, looking for the stuffed toy she’d always bring.

In 2011, it was time for him to go to Rainbow Bridge. With its endless tennis balls and wide open fields of green, he was in his Heaven.

My son was only 3, and didn’t quite understand. But the pictures around the house were a constant reminder of the pet we once had, as well the dog hair that we still find under the baseboards.

“I want a puppy.”

I didn’t want a puppy.

We got a puppy.

And I’ll continue this saga tomorrow.


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