Half-hound, all-trouble, as I liked to say when folks asked me his breed.
Just buried Redford.
Pets are not here for us, we are here for them, and then if we are truly there for them, they are here for us, and all of us, and they teach us and train us more than we train them, if we are willing to be a good buddy to them.
And if we are…we learn by their life being too short to treasure every moment and every day and to extend that appreciation to one another, our family, our community, our friends.
And if we extend that appreciation our own life expands and deepens, both. And if we do all of that, we might discover that our immense love and joy for this one animal sentient being could be and is present with all animals and all sentient beings, and this earth. But few of us are willing to open our hearts to that lesson; there is too much joy and appreciation and respect in it, our hearts can not contain such love. We have only to let go, and give, and we do not need to contain love, we can let it flood our life.
Today I decided to take him for the first time in many long boring painful months for him to the cemetery above my house. I carried him halfway to the little crick or ditch that he always swam in. David McLaughlin came by and luckily took these two last photos of these last moments.
To smell the trees, to pee on ’em, I said “Redford was king of this cemetery, now he can get the updates from the dogs and leave his own update” or something, and I lowered him by hand into the water and took him out after a final swim. He laid down by the cherry blossoming tree. And then he walked and I helped carry him back to the house, with him laying around first in Maddie Dean one last time resting while I played basketball, him listening (smelling) the sun and the wind.
And then he napped but was shaking, I gave him a hot water bottle, and his blanket, and then he started up a few times, it was around dinner, so I figured that’s what he wanted, so I lifted him up and put him on the ground to make it easier for him, and went ahead to serve his food…
…and then I heard him, something wrong was happening, I came back, and he was peeing and had cried out and I yelled calmly really it’s okay Red and I gathered him up and took him out on a soft spot and petted him and cuddled him and talked to him and thanked him as he died, I didn’t know he was dying, but it sure seemed like it, but someone you love only dies once, and he’d never died before, and I didn’t know what it would look or sound or feel like, but it felt like dying, and after a few last ragged breaths that was it.
And though he looks the same lying down by me, and his eyes even look the same, he’s cool now and his life is gone, but it is everywhere too, my love for him and so many folks liked him and enjoyed him and he liked and enjoyed so much in his life.
Redford “Scotch” Lewis, 2008-2022.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
~ C.S. Lewis
I got to be with him while he died. He’s right beside me, right now. He’s still warm. He’s still here. His family paws and ear and cuddles and warmth. He was such a good boy. For those of you who know him, or loved you dog, oh the preciousness of life. Please go vegan and extend the love we have for our dear animal friends to all sentient beings. I love you Red.
I’ll update with lots and lots of photos of him from over the years (plus some videos, check Insta), and some new photos of him with those who visited him these last few days after I put the call out, and I’m glad now that I did.
Needless to say I’m ugly crying with love, appreciation. He was such a good boy and a troublemaker both.
Back now, after calling Michelle and letting a few of Redford’s closest friends know.
I thought I’d get at least a few more years with him up until his recent surgery, which though minor was dangerous for an old dog with a modest heart condition, and he never recovered. The last months were not active, though he had many happy moments, and sweet moments. His dear heart had swelled from the size of a baseball to a canteloupe, because the valves weren’t working well anymore, and blood was flooding back into the heart and heart fluid was leaking into his tummy, and he grew faint if he walked more than say 20 or 30 feet, and had to lie down.
The surgery was a lesson that even if a minor danger, if the minor danger is existential, best to take it very seriously. That is my fault. He had always been so active and healthy with me, good food, hiking, running along my bike, that he even at 14 was just as active, though the pandemic had slowed all of us down a bit, I was biking less, but he would run with me on the bike or hike with a friend and wag his tail in what I called the lalalalalalalalla—his happy-go-lucky, carefree trot. He had just hiked Sanitas. And now, a mere season later, he’s laying beside me, still, still warm, gone, but laying down comfortably as if for a nap.
The dinner I was feeding him (I had walked 20 feet ahead of him, after lifting him down from his bed perch so he didn’t have to walk, he’s been limping and not well), I heard him squeal in pain, twice, I rushed back from serving him dinner to see him dying, taking violent breaths, eyes lolling, tongue lolling, breathing not often but hard, peeing, and I lifted him out to the yard and we lay on a soft spot and I petted him and talked to him it’s okay Red, and it seemed like he was dying, and I said you were such a good boy, and he took a last ragged breath and though still warm was gone. Is gone. The dinner I put out for him is still there and he’ll never eat it.
But lest we focus on our sadness and grief and on what is not here, let me focus on what he gave to this life of his and mine and this town. He owned Boulder, as far as dogs can be well-loved, and popular, he was always social and like me wanted to go out and run about and see people and dogs and make trouble and be happy and friendly and sweet and dorky. He loved the snow and he loved the zoomies and he loved playing for hours with a pup when he was a pup and he loved taking a nap whenever we paused and he could tell I was talking or working on my laptop or whatever.
His fur smelled like home, like friend, like warmth, and his expressions were so…the word isn’t human, but alive, thinking, sentient. And again if only all of you reading this, please extend this love for an animal that so many of us are so lucky to have to all animals.
I’m a mess right now, but I’m fine, I called Michelle (she’s in Denver) and we facetimed and cried together. I knew she was a keeper when she loved him and had her own relationship with him. I always had wanted Redford to be a doggie uncle to my children and be at my wedding but that’s not to be, I took too long. He was always so kind and sweet and patient with children, so patient even if they roughhoused him.
Death comes without Warning.
Sorry about all the poop: The 10 Commandments of your Dog.
Life and Death are but an illusion.
Happy and Sad are just a state of mind.
Love and Compassion alleviates the suffering
Of All sentient Beings—those who have been
our Mothers and our Fathers.
To recognize the interconnectedness of all beings
Is to know peace! ~ a Buddhist Homage.
Buddhism: What to Do When Your Pet Dies.
“When I got Red his entire body was the size of his grown-up head. He slumped against the quarantine window into my hand, pressed against the glass. That was it. That and that first moment, before even meeting him, seeing his adorable little face on the Humane Society web site.
Now he’s 12, and I still feel like I’m getting to know him, getting closer, enjoying his quirks and cheerfulness more with each passing year. He’s still going strong–which I credit to his mutt-iness, his simple healthy diet of real food, my letting him be as active and social as he needs and wants to be (which is much more than most dogs get).
Love you, you silly half-hound, all-trouble buddy of my last 12 years.” (written two years ago)
If so inspired, to help me pay tribute & help pay his and our love forward: A fundraiser in honor of Redford (details here).
Only if so inspired please see my fundraiser (above link) to pay tribute to Redford, and to pay his and our love forward.
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