Sunday, August 31, 2014

To My Dearest Fudge...

As the days unfold and we come to what is probably your end of watch, I wanted to document the love I have for you and how you made my life a better place to be.  I'm not sure why, but helps my heart a little to put it all in words.  If anyone ever reads this, fine.  If they don't, that's fine too.  I don't want anyone to think I am a crazy dog lady.  Even if I am.  It's just my way of dealing with it.  Here is your story.

Way back when my dear husband, Rick, decided to change jobs and become a police officer, I told him ok, under one condition.  I wanted a watch dog.  A protector, a friend, a guardian to watch over me and our three children when he had to work over nights.  I wanted a dog that was good with children, yet willing to bark loud enough to scare anyone away.  I wanted a dog that I could talk to, confide in, and be my best friend.  We had two dogs, a lovable black lab, Dixie,  who didn't have a mean bone in her body, and an elderly basset hound, Boomer,  that could hardly walk.  I needed a dog that was a little more protective.

In the summer of 2004, we went on a family trip and dropped Dixie and Boomer off at the kennel, and that was when I first laid eyes on you.  You were the runt of the litter.  The unclaimed puppy.  The one no one wanted.  In my eyes, you were perfect, and I instantly fell in love.  Your name was Bear.  I knew then in my heart that you would be a part of our family.  I just had to talk my husband into it.  I spent all week trying to convince him that you needed to come live with our family.  He was adamant that he didn't want "three dog drama" or a dog named Bear.  I said fine, then rename him.  I begged, I pleaded, I cajoled.  When the family trip was done, and it was time to pick up the dogs from the kennel, I eagerly offered to go, but I told Rick, "If that puppy is still there, I am bringing it home."  He grabbed his keys and left in a huff, grumbling under his breath.

Imagine my surprise an hour later when he lifted you out of the truck and set you in the grass and said, "His name is Fudge".  Rick tries blaming the whole thing on the fact that the kennel guy gave him a fabulous deal he couldn't refuse and wiped out our kennel bill for buying you.  I know better.  I know that my husband just has a heart of gold, and he knew that you belonged with us.  As much as he doesn't like to admit it, he wanted a protector for me when he wasn't home too, and you fit the bill perfectly, my dear clearance puppy.

You fit into our little family perfectly.  Claimed your place on the bed and in my heart immediately.  Dixie had always been Rick's dog, and a few months after you came to live with us, Boomer went to the Rainbow Bridge.  You filled the hole that left in our hearts.  Our children adored you and played with you all the time.  Life was good.  Then "the bad thing happened" just a year later.   It was a rough month for all of us.  A lot happened in a short period of time.  You'd been at the kennel and injured your paw, your boys, who you adored, had been at camp all week, then your girl, who you also adored, was at camp all week, and we moved.  All at once.

We brought you back to your new house and when Cassidy got home, she was SO excited to see you, and it happened all so fast.  You were tired, and upset, and hurt, and she accidentally stepped on your foot when she came to say hello, and before we knew what happened, she was screaming, and you looked guilty.  One quick bite and it was done.

None of it was your fault really, but at that moment, I didn't want you to be part of our family anymore.  I love my dogs, but in the pack hierarchy, my precious children rank WAY above any dog.  Rick threw you in a kennel and we rushed Cass to get 9 stitches around her elbow.  When we got home.  I told Rick to "take you to the vet".  Lucky for you, and eventually for me, Rick and the kids prevailed.

They convinced me you didn't mean to do it, that it was an accident, and that we should just see how things went for a few days.  It was a family vote and I was outvoted 4-1.  Even Cassidy voted to keep you.  I was not happy.  I didn't want you around my precious daughter.  I didn't trust you.  Time softened my anger at you.  You became the sweetest, gentlest dog, who was always wary around her.  You always eyed me like you knew you'd done wrong and wished you could undo it.  Little by little, you worked your way back into my heart and became trusted again.

In 2006, Roscoe made his debut into our family as we missed having a hound.  You instantly became besties.  He's never been able to tolerate you being out of the room.  He's a great sidekick, isn't he?

In 2007, Dixie left for the Rainbow Bridge.  F***ing cancer.  She was only 7.  She was more Rick's dog, and it was very hard on him.

As the last few years have gone by, you've barked at strangers, growled at the wind, and made me feel safe more times than you know.  You've snuggled up to sick children, as though you knew they needed you.  

You've sat outside on cold nights, protecting me as I sit in the hot tub, never letting me go out alone.  You've cleaned up every mess I've ever made on the floor without once complaining.  And thanks to you, I've never had to eat my own pizza crust.  Every night, you jump on the bed, spin around and face the door at my feet.  Always ready to jump in if I needed protecting.  I sleep soundly knowing you are there to protect me.  I've always felt safer.  If I'm sad, you know, and you stick close, nudge me with that cold wet nose, and snuggle in closer.

As the years have gone by, your face has gotten whiter, your walk a little slower, but ever still, you protect me every second of the day.  Now, here were are again, faced with the dreaded cancer verdict, and just trying to enjoy our last few days with you.  I've already cried a river of tears this week, but they just won't stop.  And even though they are for you, you still come up and lick them off my face.  We're trying to make the rest of your time here as happy as we can.  There's been swimming, and belly rubs, and ice cream shared.  Yes, off my spoon.  I don't care.  And so many kisses.  I just want to sit forever and pet your ears and scratch your head.

Rest assured, my dearest best friend, when the time comes that I think you are in pain or suffering, I will do the right thing.  I will hold your faithful paw and stroke your angel soft ears as you cross the Rainbow Bridge.  I will cry more tears for you then I thought possible, and I will miss you forever.  You've been such a good dog and I am so glad you were part of my pack even if it only was for a short 10 years.

I love you forever, Fudge.  I've loved all my dogs over the years, but you are my absolute favorite.

Update :(  On September 3, 2014, while holding his sweet face, my doggie passed over the Rainbow Bridge.  You will be forever missed.