Ricky died on October 29, 2009, at 1:15 p.m. from complications from a very aggressive cancer. He was 15 years old in dog years and 105 in people years. The end came quickly and his death was peaceful. David and I were, as you can imagine, heartbroken. Mack was depressed; but then, he knew before we did that that would be his last day. Dogs just know those things. |
We found out Ricky had cancer in late July, but we didn't find out from him. Despite the fact that his body was literally littered with cancer - he was virtually asymptomatic. He had slowed down some and slept more, but good grief, he was 105. The vets thought he would probably live another 3-4 months.
They were right. I only began to see the dreaded signs of decline in the last 10 days. His breathing was a little shallow and raspy; his appetite was waning and his weight had started to drop; sometimes he couldn't make the jump into the back of the car, even when I backed up to a hill to make it easy; he slept through breakfast from time to time. I often caught him staring at me from the couch with sad, weary eyes. It killed me.
Ricky's full name was Ricky Ricardo the Dog, or Mr. R. R. Dog when he was in a beat type of mood. He was a pound puppy. David and I brought him home on November 23, 1996. He was one and a half years old.
Ricky was a truly remarkable dog. He inherited the best of the gene pool. Until the last two weeks, he was never sick a day in his life. He was an evolutionary wonder - a clever omnivore with a penchant for survival and an unerring GPS system. He was also a very old soul. I think there must have been some kind of mega-energetic disruption somewhere in the universe at the precise moment of reincarnation, and Ricky, who was destined to be a professor of structural engineering at MIT, got re-routed into a dog's body. At MIT, there is some poor professor who should have been a dog and instead is the laughing stock of the student body. Shit happens - Ricky understood that. He accepted that - but really, couldn't he have kept the thumbs? Ahhh, the places he could have gone if he only he had thumbs.
I am tried to be a little philosophical through my grief - after all, Ricky was fifteen years old and lived a happy, healthy life adored by his humans. He was an adventurer at heart and lived many excellent adventures (often to our distress and the frustration of the local Dog Warden). David rightly points out that if the folks at the New Milford Animal Shelter had told us in November 1996 that we were signing up for 13 healthy years, we would have gladly signed on the dotted line. But my, how those 13 years flew by . . .
I had hoped we had more time. I wanted to take him to all his favorite places: the dairy farm where he terrorized the cows and killed a few cats over the years; the culvert where those pesky raccoons live; the neighbor's barn where he'd been known to nap after an arduous unauthorized lark; and the miles of trails all over the mountain where we hiked throughout the years in an effort to ward off those hateful middle-aged pounds. But there's never enough time, is there?
Tonight David and I cannot imagine our life without him. Ricky was a part of our lives almost as long as we've had a life together. We knew this day would come, but we were still not prepared for the stark reality of the loss, but then, who is? The heart is not consoled by preparation.
We were and are profoundly sad, but relieved that he is no longer suffering. We sent him on his journey to the after-life In the tradition of the ancient Egyptians, armed with his favorite blanket, an angel, an amulet for bravery and his yellow wubba. We wish him safe travel and hope he knows how much he meant to us. I also hope that next time around, he gets the thumbs.
Farewell, Mr. Rick, we will always miss you.