So part of the reason I have been thinking about mortality (and therefore my epic grandmother who was posted about a few weeks ago), is because one of my dogs, Hendrix (who is really Ralph’s dog) was diagnosed with Lymphoma a few months ago. And after months of steroids and him looking like a victim of the holocaust, Hendrix spent his last day on earth with us today.
But Hendrix lived a life more active than a lot of humans do. He swam in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans… and weathered many a hurricane on the gulf coast. He climbed several 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado, and lived in five states. So since writing is my way of letting go, consider this Hendrix’s life story… and dog obituary.
Hendrix, who was nine years old when he died today, was born most likely in Pensacola, Florida… but we don’t actually know that. See, Ralph and I moved to the land of abandoned redneck strip malls also known as Pensacola, shortly after college graduation so that he could start flight school while he was an officer in the Navy. We both had childhood dogs that we loved but were now deceased, and as we were starting our life together… we wanted to get a dog.
So naturally, we started looking for rescue organizations for dogs in the area. We found a German Shepherd rescue in the area and went and chatted with them. Their list for adoption was long, and they said that if we really wanted a dog that we should visit one of the 17 kill shelters in the area. Because rednecks really like strip malls, strip clubs, and not neutering their pets. Keep in mind that the panhandle of Florida is called the Redneck Riviera.
So we drove to the first shelter and wandered through the aisles. The place was fairly well kept… except for the fact that there were probably four dogs/puppies to a pen. So we wandered around for a while and Ralph found an older dog that had a scar over his eye who he thought would be great. I had my heart set on a puppy… and about two seconds later we walked past a pen that again had about four puppies in it… one of which looked like a black lab that was avidly chewing on the excess skin of a shar pei puppy. It was love at first sight. He wandered right up to us and that was the end of my dog-less existence.
We were just babies ourselves (at the ripe young age of 21), but we took our puppy home and scared the shit out of our parents by sending them a baby announcement via email hallmark. The animal shelter thought he was about 12 weeks old (we made his official birthday 3/14… because Ralph is a math nerd), but I wondered if he was someone’s dog that got lost or some random thing because he was the easiest dog on the planet.
He was housetrained in like 2 days. And other than randomly eating the trash while we were gone, he never had any behavioral issues. Since we lived by the water, we taught him to swim on the Fourth of July… on which he got so tired from all the activity that he fell asleep before the fireworks. So we playfully buried him in the sand while he slept through the fireworks.
We took Hendrix everywhere with us… which made him the most amiable dog on the planet. Except for when you tied him to things. One time when he was about six months old, we were getting sandwiches at a strip mall (no shocker), when the guy behind us in line asked, “Hey, is that your dog?” to which we all turned toward the windows to see Hendrix dragging a wrought iron table behind him via leash… across the parking lot.
He loved to dig holes in the sand… eat lots of dried seaweed… drink lots of saltwater… and then have explosive diarrhea on the way back to the car.
He dug holes so large in the backyard while living in Corpus Christi, Texas that Ralph didn’t get all of that security deposit back.
When Ralph was a bicycle mechanic in Boulder, Co, Hendrix was the beloved “shop dog”… where the local kids would request to see “The Big Black Beast of the Bikesmith,” when they walked in the front door.
He was sprayed by three skunks, hit by one car, spent one night lost in the Florida woods, and smiled his entire life through.
And while he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed (he spent a large majority of his youth afraid of trash cans and fire hydrants)… he was the most loving of dogs… who would have followed Ralph to the ends of the earth with no questions asked.
There is a facebook meme out there that says something along the lines of “Dogs have shorter lives than humans because they come into this world already knowing how to love unconditionally,” which is one of the truest sentiments out there… and Hendrix had this in spades.
Despite his illness, we always knew that putting Hendrix to sleep would be the hardest thing because he was so happy… I always said that he would die wagging his tail. And today, Ralph held his head and I petted his ribs as he took his last breath. And he still smiled the whole way.
Ralph had his heart set on burying him by lake where we always take the dogs swimming. At first I thought this seemed lonely… because Hendrix would be spending his resting days alone (Also, if you ever want to feel like a truly useless human being… try and dig a five foot deep hole in the woods… it is not that easy). But I am choosing to think about it like the book “the art of racing in the rain” (which is like Marley and me part II). In that he believes that his dog is reincarnated in another being at some point (who the dog’s owner meets later in life). And while I may never get to meet the person who gets Hendrix’s soul… they are a damn lucky being. Because they will be full of insatiable curiousity, endless love and devotion, and a strong love of good cheese.
His endless devotion to Ralph and I as we have taken so many ridiculous adventures in this life is what astounds me the most. It is because of his devotion that I know for certain, that when I die one day and go to my final resting place in the cosmos… that Hendrix will be the first face I see as he comes bounding out of the gates to find me and lead me home.
There was an epic sunset in Providence today, which I think was Hendrix’s way of saying goodbye… and his way of telling us that he understood that it was time for him to go too.
Hendrix, we were blessed and honored to know you and have your in our lives. You taught us lessons about love and life that will serve us in years to come. I wish we could have had you for a hundred more years. Rest in Peace our dearest friend.