Ralph

You were and have been and still are love of my life, even though you are to the rest of the world nothing but a dead dog. Isn’t that funny that my soul mate turned out to be an animal? It makes sense. I am just an animal too. Frankly, I think you got the short end of the soulmate stick. You could have done much better than me, although you wouldn’t have found anyone who could have loved you more. I loved you more than anything. I love you still. More than words can express.

I wanted to say hello to you, and let you know that three years on after your death, I think of you always. You reside in my mind, where there is a window in my soul, the sun of my heart shining into it, and you lay right in the warmest spot, your long body stretching in the heat, no pain in your hips.

I look for you in the morning, every day, my hand reaching instinctively over on the side of the bed, where you once lay beside me, knowing I couldn’t leave the bed without waking you, why you selected that spot when you first came and stayed there for your entire dog life. Of course, you’re never there, and its been three years but I forget, and every morning I reach for nothing, my futile reach. If only my arms were long enough to reach you where you are now. I will continue reach for you, morningtime groggy grabbing at nothing, until finally in death I will find you once more. There will come a morning where I will not wake, and that is the day we will meet again.

Bronwyn and Gudrun, your dog siblings, do well in your absence. I can’t tell if they miss you, but my grief clouds everything. All I do is miss you. Yesterday Bronwyn got down to that space under the house where you kept all your secret toys, your beloved tennis balls, your big bitey rubber tire. I hadn’t been down there since your death. Your daddy and I couldn’t go down there. It hurt too badly to clean it out. It hurt too much to admit you were not returning to us. We left it. we pretended it didn’t exist, then pretended silently that you were coming back. That was the only way to cope with your loss, to tell lies to ourselves. The inestimable loss of you, it took nearly all of what we had inside to get by, to get through it. You were our son. You will always be.

I went down to help Bronwyn climb back up, as she’s not nearly as nimble as you were, and can’t come up on her own. I saw all your precious tennis balls you had stored down there, muddy little green treasures, packed into the crawl space as if it were your tomb, as if you were a grand Egyptian king, your pleasures neatly laid out for you alongside your sarcophagus, so you might have them in the afterlife. I think I might move your ashes down there, to reunite you with your things, but that would mean I would have to move them from your old bed, and I can’t bear to part with them. Not yet my love. Not yet my Ralph.

ralphbluesmall


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14 Comments. Add To The Mix…

  1. Oh, my heart. You often channel parts of me but this one is a direct and total transmission. By the way, I’m a high school English teacher who has read some of your blog posts to my beautiful teenagers, especially the “hang on and don’t die yet” flavored ones.
    My Ralph is named Cisco. He’s been gone two years and nineteen days. The vet helped him slip from this life eleven days after his sixteenth birthday, on the grass in my front yard with all trees and flowers gently waving him on to the next. A tiny red spider mite crawled over his paw as I spooned him and howled as my soul tore in two. This dog was my witness. He’s the only one who knows all my secrets. My son died in my arms of heart disease when he was a baby, and without Cisco, I would have lost my mind and never returned. Cisco’s ashes reside next to those of my son, waiting for mine, when they will all be one day combined and comingled. He was a herding dog like Ralph looks to have been…a black and white Border Collie who, clever boy, finds me in my dreams, his hips also pain-free, leaping joyously toward me to place his healed strong body under my reaching fingers, promising me that one day we will continue our travels together. Thank you, and I understand…and perhaps Cisco and Ralph are together, sniffing things and lifting their legs in their Elysian Fields, waiting on their earthbound companions.

  2. Margaret,
    I totally empathize. I lost my Sphynx cat Boudicca 2 months ago. Being a single woman with no kids, Bobo was my partner, soul mate, best friend and family. I miss her so much every day and still talk to her sometimes and think of her spirit being around. There are others like me (and you) who understand the power and authenticity of the love of a pet. I shrug my shoulders at those who think of pets as “just a dog” or “only a cat”, since they simply havent experienced love in that form yet.

    Much support and love to you and your invisible but connected to you always Ralph.

  3. So sorry to hear about your loss. Ralph was “not just an animal”. He was a big part of your life. It is human arrogance that makes us believe that only humans possess the capacity to love. I am sure Ralph loved you as much as you loved him.

  4. My soulmate was Spike, a beautiful pug gone from this world too soon. I read your story of Ralph and immediately related…Just knowing that we will be reunited with our beloved friends makes all the difference. Thank you for your touching post.

  5. I will be you in (fingers crossed) several years. Our Scooterpooh will be 8 this year …I rescued him on a rural road in Tennessee while visiting. He was 1 pound and my first dog – he is 13 pounds now. I got married in March of this year and for the two plus years my wife and I have been together we consider him our son. Just the thought of what will come scares us both. It is not fair that these souls stay so briefly but their purpose is to love us unconditionally and hopefully teach us a few things – for me it’s patience. I confess I fear the pain his loss will cause us both. :(

  6. I’m polyanimalous — I’ve had several animals who’ve left their marks on me like this, two of whom I’m right now dreading losing because they’re elderly. I remember losing my Hex when I was 13 — finding him suddenly and without warning gone too soon, and being completely shattered by it (the one time in my life I think my parents opted to medicate me because I just *lost* it) — and losing my Pebbles while I was away at grad school, so quickly that I couldn’t get home to say goodbye.

    Thinking of you, Margaret.

  7. Those who live with and love animals (and learn from them) are a special breed (no pun intended).

    I came to my business later on in my life; doing pet portraits that are FAR FROM CUTE. These images combine a significant phrase that represents something from the shared lives of each animal and their owner. (I do hate the term “owner,” since we do not OWN these creatures, but should be honored to live beside them….).

    I have found a great many of my clients come to me for portraits after their pet has died, often many years after….because the people in their life have stopped asking about their pain, and if they mention it, they are chided into either “getting another pet” or shamed into silence (as in “how can you still be carrying on about that dog when there are people dying in Iraq?)

    Ralph has the kind, wise, dreamy eyes of a soulmate.

    Not fair, not fair at all….

  8. Those who live with and love animals (and learn from them) are a special breed (no pun intended).

    I came to my business later on in my life; doing pet portraits that are FAR FROM CUTE. These images combine a significant phrase that represents something from the shared lives of each animal and their owner. (I do hate the term “owner,” since we do not OWN these creatures, but should be honored to live beside them….).

    I have found a great many of my clients come to me for portraits after their pet has died, often many years after….perhaps in part because the people in their lives have stopped asking about their pain, and if they mention it, they are chided into either “getting another pet” or shamed into silence (as in “how can you still be carrying on about that dog when there are people dying in Iraq?)

    Ralph has the kind, wise, dreamy eyes of a soulmate.

    Not fair, not fair at all….

  9. Ooh, the precious, precious boy! He’s so handsome.

    My daughter and I were just talking about my familiar this morning over breakfast. I had to stop before we got to the hard part, because I didn’t want to have the memory of losing my MingNa to hang over me all day but it was too late. I’ll be giving her sister extra loveys this evening.

  10. If I remember correctly, Ralph was a rescue, that thanks to MC had a happy life, and a warm place to sleep.

    Do what you can to stop animal abuse. Rescue, donate what you can to a local animal welfare agency that you like.

    A heart breaking number of dogs are thrown away and abandoned.

  11. Thanks for this sad but wonderful post. I have to say I often have stronger feelings for animals than for humans. They love unconditionally. We mean everything to them! I feel responsible for my pet and consider it a failing on my part when they are sick, and especially when they die. This is foolish, I know. But I have cried many tears over pets I have lost, and felt a grief more pure than any other grief I’ve had. If there is a God I can only hope she feels the same love for us as we feel for our pets.

  12. Over the Rainbow bridge there is a picnic spot with my name on it. Waiting there, when they’re not out dancing in the breeze, are more loves than I can count. Some I owe for not knowing thier needs as well as I should have and others have taught me more than I could ever teach them. Raven, you were the dog of my dreams, the one that went everywhere with me and taught me all about dogs and how to love them and care for them. What a huge, beautiful beast you were. What a crazy time in my life you witnessed and stood by me….Winston, I’m sorry I left you behind, you were a little crazy and probably dangerous but you were so dang cute and almost human in your crankiness. I was coming back for you but you couldn’t wait :( … Miss Tessa, you loved me more than life itself. You tolerated all the dogs that came after you with a grudging acceptance that you would always be 2nd, 3rd or last. But you hung in there for 15 years. Always watching me and waiting for your turn to fetch the ball. You trained me and you trained each one that came after you….GOOD DOG Tessa Rae.
    Ahhhh Spencer. You are/were what loving a dog is all about. Somehow every dog and human I ever loved came together in your handsome face. My little man. Happy and fun loving in your youth, loving us with such unconditional love. Ruling the roost with just a glance and a curl of your lip. You even stole Daddys heart from me and I didn’t care a bit….We miss you horribly, Haze misses you…perhaps even Nyah misses you….This one brings tears to my eyes each time I think of him. This one taught me the true meaning of LOVE.
    And to all the dogs I’ve had that are not mentioned here…I wish the circumstances had been different for us all. That I’d gotten to know you better, been in your life longer or known what I know now. I miss you all.
    And should I pass today and cross that bridge, there are three more to join you…each loved differently and seperately. Each one a lesson in love all it’s own!!!!

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