Tuesday, May 15, 2007
It may be raining...
But there's a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you
You better let somebody love you
Before it's too late...
And he did. He gave us a huge green light to love him.
And as it turns out, it was just in time.
Our dear sweet Rembrandt...purveyor of many nicknames..at once shy and also desperately curious to know everyone...our Little Love Machine who gave and received love in constant stream...the talk of the neighborhood...is gone.
Any of you out there who have had to go through this gut-wrentching process of losing a pet, I'm sure, can resonate with the fact that it's absolutely awful. To watch an unsuspecting sweet face not know what is going on. To say good bye to, perhaps, the most devoted friend you've ever had.
Remmie really was a special animal. His sensitivities were amazing. He had insecurities in getting to know other dogs, and yet, at the first sound of a collar tinkle, his ears would perk up and his tail would wag. He did his best to make friends, even if it scared him a little. He had a way of calming people. No one was afraid of Remmie. Ever. He never growled. He never grabbed. He was polite and devoted to us. Always. Always up for cuddling. Always up for a visit - even if it ment stirring from a deep sleep. And always up for a backrub! Especially if it involved being brushed.
Dave and I both saw in him the first day we met a tenderness and wisdom unmatched by any other. In a shelter full of 20 barking dogs, Rem said nothing. He kept his cool and slowly walked to the bars of his cage to greet us. Ears back. Tail wagging. Classic Rembrandt. Rem could look you in the eye and it was like he direct-connected into your soul. He knew so many things.
The hour after his big surgery in December, Rem was coming out of his drugged state. His limbs weren't quite agreeing with him yet and he was being fed intravenously. Understandably shocked and dazed, his first asserted effort after having a 9 pound tumor removed from his belly had nothing to do with escaping from his caged-in bed, or pulling out all the wires stuck in him. No, his first post-op effeort was to try to wake up his tongue enough to give me a kiss. Above all, Remmie was a giver.
The weeks and first months following his surgery were like a re-birth. All of a sudden, our calm and passive adult animal of 2006 turned into a puppy who ate, ran, and even sprang! He began a new ritual in the mornings which could warm the cockles of even the coldest hearts. He would wake up around 6, and wait for one of us to just roll over and slightly open an eye. As soon as one of us did ("Good morning, Remmie Roo!"), he was up in bed, tail wagging, giving full-face baths to us and looking for a perfect place to curl up for another hour or so. 7:30 would roll around and it would be time for his morning walk.
Although I was the official Morning Walker, both Dave and I loved getting Remmie to "talk" with us about his excitement to go outside. After 3-4 "Wanna go for a walks?!?!"...excited pacing. 6-8...he'd start sneezing (a sure sign he's winding up). And by the time #15 was uttered, he was in a full-on dialogue with us...Cooing. Howling. And his signature bark, which sounded something like "MMMER!"
Considering we hadn't heard so much as an arf for the first two months after adopting him (even prompting us to wonder if his previous owners had his vocal chords removed.) (I'm a little ashamed to admit some of the judgments I concocted in the early weeks about Rem's first family, but we had a hard time understanding why anyone would let this amazing dog out of their sight), this newfound voice of his delighted all three of us. We loved these mornings together.
A few months ago, Dave was away on a business trip and Remmie and I were in the kitchen. I was, undoubtedly, cutting chicken (besides loving, chicken was his OTHER passion). And the song "Desperado" came on the radio. It was a perfect moment waiting to happen. He was still light-ish in weight from his surgery, so I scooped him up in my arms, turned the volume up and we danced as I sang. His chin rested over my shoulder and a paw lazily draped over my forearm. I was there, in the kitchen, swaying with certainly the second love of my life.
As it turns out, this is similar to the pose in which he died. Chin on my arm with a paw resting over my leg. Perfect peace. Lying in his bed in our living room.
I'll never know who his first family was or what happened that left him alone and unidentified on a street in Eindhoven. And the age-old cry over why bad things happen to good people and dogs will never be answered. But I feel so absolutely lucky to have had a chance to love him and be loved by him.
There must be a least a thousand modern-day proverbs about living life more like our pets, and I wouldn't dare to try saying something original on the topic. But in the months and years to come, I have no doubt that watching Remmie love, adjust, fight, give, and give some more - all while staying calm doing it - will have its impact on me. His was the most tender and humble spirit I've ever known.
Thank you to everyone for the outpouring of love and well-wishes, for the visits, the cards, the flowers...Dave and I are so grateful for our network of caring friends and family. I know we're not the only ones who will miss him.
Here's to Remmie...