I am reposting this old one today, because we have just lost our sweet friend Cinder.
After a short bout with lymphoma, it was time for him to be released from a body that was falling apart. And he died with beautiful dignity, just as he lived.
He was such an excellent friend to me. He sort of bounced into our yard in California about 13 years ago, and promptly fathered 10 puppies with another stray dog. The mother abandoned her pups, and so Cinder the freewheeling bachelor took over their care, and kept them alive (with a little help from us humans). I knew I could not let such a noble and tenderhearted gentleman out of my life, so we kept him and taught him how to live in a house. He tamed up slowly, making a transition from something like a Wild West gangster to the very canine image of English gentry.
What a privilege it was to be Cinder’s family. We are all thankful he came to us, and that he stayed.
Here, below, is the post I wrote when his best friend was close to death. Now Cinder and Roscoe are, perhaps, in some way united again.
I want to say something here about blessings that come to us which we really did not think we needed or wanted. But which have come anyhow, insisting upon being something sweet in our lives.
We all have some. Things, places, people, vehicles, jobs, assignments, expectations from someone we love…..or maybe an animal.
During the years when we lived right under the very last tree at the edge of the desert in California, we saw many animals pass through the yard. Bears, mountain lions and bobcats, snakes of all sorts, roadrunners and packs of coyotes, and several stray dogs.
We did not need a dog, as we had the best dog on the planet already in our good old German Shepherd.
But dogs came anyway.
Starving dogs, mean dogs, injured dogs……and we found places for them all, but did not keep them.
Then one day this very handsome little black dog, who was, for all the world, Antonio Banderas in a dog suit, showed up.
I am certain that he would have spoken Spanish if he could talk, and he was just the most charming little guy in the way that Latin men often are. So, we looked for his proper home, failed to find it, and then named him Cinder after my mother’s childhood dog, and he stayed. Now I cannot imagine life without him. When he came, he was the picture of well muscled youthful masculinity. Here he is today, gray and less muscular, but sweeter every day:
Then, shortly after Cinder came, I announced at Thanksgiving Dinner , 2000, to all who were present, and it was a crowd as I recall, that I did not want any more pets. None. I would not accept one if it were given to me.
So, early the next morning, this lovely gentle giant of a yellow lab appeared in the driveway. Michael, who was three years old, saw him and said “Hey Mom, that’s my dog!” To which I replied something along the lines of “No, honey, your dog is in the house, that’s somebody else’s dog…” but Michael insisted that it was, indeed, his dog.
I gave the dog water, and got busy putting out advertisements for him all over southern California, to which nobody responded. So we named him Roscoe, and he is still with us.
I did not love him at first, but for some reason he really loved me.
He still will hardly make a move unless I am present, and so I have grown to love him too. How can you not love someone who’s so devoted to you?
Anyway, now he’s almost twice as big as he was when he first came to our door…..I like to think the photo above was him arriving on that fateful day.
And here is a picture of him day before yesterday.
He is OLD now, and I think he is not long for this world. He was quite ill last week, and my neighbor, Jan, heard about his misfortune, and she stopped by with cookies for him. In fact those are Jan’s cookies next to his old gray head in the picture. I have never known a dog who received visitors during a health crisis. But Roscoe is that kind of dog.
He has been famously hunted by the dog catcher, not because he’s dangerous, but because he likes to wander out into the middle of the road directly in the path of the school bus, causing the bus to stop. Then he waits for kids to get off so he can greet them.
He’s that kind of dog.
And many of our neighbors, knowing that the dog catcher drives through town looking for him, will phone us whenever they see the dog-catcher van coming through our tiny little village. Everyone loves this old guy.
Today we were out for a walk, and when he went in for his regular swim, he was unable to haul himself out of the river, and I had to get in and drag him on to shore. Now he is home and unable to get up….his exerterator being down, as Daniel would say.
I’m not going to write a eulogy for these guys when they are gone, but I wanted to say how thankful I am for them now, while they are still here for us to enjoy. I did not want either of them, but I am so very glad they came to us.
I wonder how other people have been blessed in similar surprising and strange ways.