Just about sixteen years ago, long before Benlysta, before Rituxan, and shortly before the beginning of Methotrexate and Imuran, little Rudy joined our household. He was the result of the barter system. My husband taught piano lessons to the two sons of a couple we knew who raised purebred miniature long-haired dachshunds. After teaching enough lessons to equal the discounted price of a well-bred puppy, little Rudy became the newest addition to our home.
Over many years of watching our children finish growing up, graduate from high school, get married and now our four grandchildren, Rudy has been there, friend to all who knew him, and companion to many. When I spent months on strict bed rest with massive lupus flares and an unstable spine, he was a little puppy who curled up next to me, comforting me in my intense persistent pain. We bonded, and I guess I became his surrogate people “mom.” Any time I felt awful or was home sick with lupus woes or pains, there he would zoom, right to my side to curl up near and comfort me.
Each night as we arrived home, we saw his little head and ears flopping up and down through the window in the kitchen door, as he jumped straight in the air in excitement at our return. His exuberance caused us to coin the expression, “jumping doggies” to explain many a gleeful moment. His doggie cheerfulness had edged its way into our family conversations.
Yesterday, it was my last chance to comfort my little canine pal. I spent some time yesterday morning with him, bathing my aging weak pup, gently brushing and grooming him and cleaning his kennel and bed. As I left for work, he curled up in a fresh towel and snuggled down for a nap. When my husband found him last night, he still was curled up just as I left him. He seemed to have never moved or awakened from slumber, and my usual “have a good doggie day,” ended up my last goodbye to my little friend.
Last night, he went to his final doggie resting place, wrapped in the same towel and snuggled into the warm spring soil, several feet below the turf of our backyard lawn. We quietly planted him beneath his favorite spot in the yard, right where sunlight first warms the grass each morning. So, with my husband holding a shovel and me holding a flashlight, in the darkness we quietly said goodbye to our faithful little family dog.
Goodnight, little Rudy, goodbye.