RIP My love, My Ralph.

Do you remember when we met? I had come to the west valley animal shelter, and I saw you before you saw me. You were by yourself in a little cage at the end of the long corridor. When you saw me, you tried to bite your way through the wires. I stopped and took a moment to fall in love with you. Oh, you were tiny. A comma made of black fur, punctuating my love with licks and nips. Our affair was destined to be a run on sentence, on and on and on and on and on and on. But then, it was just the beginning of the story and you could sit comfortably and very dignified in the palm of my hand while you emanated gratitude and warmth and puppy love. There was a large wound on the top of your head that was caked in dirt and dried blood, and you had a slight wobble in your walk because the people at the shelter said you had been kicked very hard. They put you on a table and someone tried to feed you a French fry, but you refused it, because that would have meant you would have had to stop staring at me. you never wanted to stop staring at me. You were a master at seduction, even then, at just a few weeks old.

We went home together and you were scared. I had to bathe you in the sink and you hated it! You were even smaller without fur. The dried blood and fleas were gone, and then it was just you, wet and perfect and tiny and soon asleep between my giant platform shoes. It was the 90s after all.

I named you after Ralph Fiennes. “The English Patient” had just come out. You were badly hurt but I was determined to be your Juliette Binoche and nurse you back to health, my head on your chest, as you told me all the great stories of the war and your love. The vets didn’t believe you’d get better, but I held you day and night and cried softly into your fur and fed you nutrical from my fingers and you grew and suddenly, seemingly overnight, you were my big dog. My big boy. My Ralph.

You would sleep on the bed with me, in my single days, and you would put your head on the pillow, the rest of your dog body under the covers, just like a man. Before I was married, you were my dog husband. When we moved to the big house, you were horrified, and you barked at the movers like you were defending your homeland, but you grew to love the new house, and then your new dad, and begrudgingly, your new dog siblings.

I am not sure what I am going to do without you. My love. My Ralph. I don’t know yet. I am happy you are no longer in pain. All the money in the world couldn’t cure the passage of time. Where are you floating now? Among all the famous people in heaven? I bet it’s big scene up there. They should let you into the VIP lounge. Just tell them who your mother is.

I grieve for you so, my love. My big dog. Who was so afraid of the wind. When I petted you, I could hear the deep satisfaction that welled up inside you. Your great dog sighs were profound. You would shake the floors. When you were very sick, I would try to ease the pain by lying next to you in your bed, my whole body encircling yours, thinking if only I could absorb the pain, take the disease into myself and take it out of you. We can only do so much, we can only do so much on earth, my love.

I am convinced I will meet you again someday, when this is all over. When there are no more jobs or days or nights or appointments or things or shows or age or sun or moon or trips or life or anything. It will be just us, and there will be a field and you will run to me, with no pain in your hips. You will run to me and knock me down.

Ralph Puppy

Ralph BW

Margaret and Ralph

DJ Ralph

Ralph Senior

Blue Ralph

Ralph and Auriana

137 thoughts on “RIP My love, My Ralph.

  1. Bless you for posting this tribute and sharing Ralph’s story. There are no clever words or phrases that will fill the void or ease the sadness, so I’ll just say how sorry I am for your loss.

  2. Beautiful tribute…I lost my “Killer” – a Pomerian Chi mix from a shelter in CA 3 years ago…the pain gets easier and slowly you remember with laughter instead of tears,

  3. Reading your beautiful post reminded me of our beloved cat ‘G2’ (he was our second ginger cat, hence the weird name). He was with us for 18 years, and his passing was one of few times I’ve seen my father cry. As Joyce wrote a few posts ago, the sorrow will fade, but the joy we shared with our companions will last forever. My thoughts are with you, Margaret.

  4. I’m so sorry. I cried so much at your entry.
    I just began fostering a big adult dog 3 days ago. I was thinking of returning him because he is scared and therefore aggressive.
    You entry made me realize I’m not sending him back. I’m going to keep him, I’m going to love him, I’m going to battle him if need be to save him. I won’t give up on him.

  5. I think losing a dog is harder than losing some friends… They are SO giving and simple. So hard to dislike. My sympathies.

  6. Oh, Margaret, I am so, so sorry. Your tribute to Ralph was beautifully written and made the tears just roll down my cheeks. We have two 12 year old pugs from pug rescue and a 14 year old cat who was a stray. Adopted animals seem to understand that we rescued them, somehow, don’t they? Their gratitude, on top of their unconditional and undying love, is truly one of the best gifts that life has to offer.

    My DH and I have always been huge fans of yours. Thanks for what you do, and for being such a wonderful guardian of Ralph. You were both so lucky.

  7. I’m so sorry for your loss. Our pets are such an enormous part of our families its always devestating to lose one.
    Your tribute to Ralph was very moving, thankyou for sharing your memories with us all. I hope you can feel all our hugs that we are sending your way.

  8. Margaret,
    I am so sorry to read that you’ve lost your friend. He was indeed a friend, but he had a guardian angel.

  9. Dear Ms. Cho,
    Please accept my heart-felt condolences on the loss of your beloved friend, Ralph. I have no doubt that it will be just as you say and he will run to you and knock you over in the joy of seeing you again.
    We lost our beloved black cat, pyewacket this month. So I am with you in your grief and missing your furry family member.
    A candle is burning for your Ralph as well as my Pye.
    Many blessings.

  10. Im so sorry to hear about Ralph. 🙁 I remember when I read your book the images of him were so hopeful and loving. What you have written about him is beautiful and heartfelt. *hugshugshugs*

    Im not religious, but I have to believe in a heaven for dogs. They can play, and run in big yards, and chase balls, and lick sticky faces, and lay all stretched out on the floor like carpets, and steal the warm spot in bed.


  11. Oh, Margaret, I am so, *so* sorry to read of your loss. He was a gorgeous and very lucky boy.

    I lost my old man dog Hugo in early June, and it is only when I think of my dear, dear dogs who’ve passed that I imagine and hope for an afterlife, and pray to once again look into their eyes, stroke the familiar curves of their heads, and bury my face in their fur. Even just one more time.

    My thoughts are with you. Godspeed, Ralph. Good dog.

    “The misery of keeping a dog is his dying so soon;
    but to be sure if he lived for fifty years, and then died,
    what would become of me?”
     Sir Walter Scott

  12. While watching your routine on cable, I Googled you and found this. Such a beautiful tribute and so raw. I’m sorry about Ralph. Sometimes I think a dog is the absolutely hardest thing in this world to lose. All the best.

    “We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle; easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we would still live no other way.” – Irving Townsend

  13. There’s nothing I can say that other people have not said in the comments but I’m so sorry for your loss; Ralph will always be part of you.

  14. Words aren’t much comfort when we lose our furry loves. They never used them and yet always spoke to our hearts. I’m sorry for your loss and hope that someday memories of your Ralph will fill you with smiles and laughter.

  15. Thank you for saying what I cannot. I just recently put down my childhood dog of 18 years. As a 20-something, I can hardly remember a life without that dog at my heels. I don’t know how to do this without him. If you figure it out, let me know. I wish you the very best.

  16. I’m so sorry – I just found out about Ralph’s passing and just wanted to reach out. I had to put my first pup to sleep last year – she was only 4- her name was Marilyn – she got her name because she wiggled her butt when she walked like Marilyn Monroe. My friends were with me when I adopted her from a rescue group at PetSmart. She was this little perfectly gorgeous white puppy – 1/2 JRT and 1/2 Corgi. I was actually afraid to ask about her as I was sure someone had already adopted her. One of the volunteers noticed me looking at her and let me hold her. I was a goner… She was my whole world. I eventually adopted 3 other rescue dogs. Last year Marilyn had seizures and was becoming violent towards the other dogs. It culminated in a fight – really bad. I was heart broken but realized, after talking to many vets, that there was nothing I could do so I had her put to sleep. I ended up getting her name tattooed in a heart on my arm. I hope she’s somewhere riding shotgun with my Aunt Rachel in her ’59 T-Bird going for Arby’s Roast Beef sandwiches.

    HUGS from us to you and yours!

  17. Margaret, this brought a tear to my eye. A moving tribute to a little dog with a big personality and the photos were lovely. He obviously had a wonderful life with you – I love all of your dog posts – you get how transformative the love of a good dog can be. My condolences for your loss.

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