He was all tumbly, his skin pink, brown spots all over. His eyes were still closed but he followed his Mama blindly trying to nurse constantly. Poor Rosie, his Mama, was not yet a year old and this was her second litter. Now she had three small hungry pups, and one large pup who never seemed to get enough food.
Quickly Sarah and I knew that this adorable boy was ours! He was the giant of the litter, easily twice the size of his other three siblings. He was supposed to be a pure bred, pedigreed black poodle. It was easy to see that the breeding practices in the puppy mill his Mother had been rescued from were not credible. He looked far more Bichon Friese than Poodle.
What IS a Bichon Friese? That is a good question. We all have heard of poodles with their qualities both good and bad. Bichon Friese's are not known quite as commonly. They are distant cousins to the Poodle. Oftentimes they are not quite as intelligent. On the flip side, they are also not as high strung. They have very loving dispositions.
I will use a little story as a demonstration of how blessed we were with Rolly's combo parentage. Sir Oliver Wendell Holmes was a prominent attorney in the changing of the 19th to the 20th century. His intelligence was well documented.
One day he received a letter from a beautiful actress on the theatrical stage. Her letter said (paraphrased), Sir...I propose that we make a match. With your brilliant mind, and my grand beauty, I believe that we could create a child of superior abilities. Please let me quickly know your decision regarding this matter.
Sir Oliver wrote back, (again paraphrased), Madam...I am honored by your proposal and your compliments in regards to my intelligence. Unfortunately, there is a possibility that you have neglected to consider. What if this child were to inherit MY looks and YOUR brains?
We were ever so blessed with our lucky little hybrid. He had the brilliance of a Poodle mind. His heart was equally brilliant. His grin was guaranteed to lift a soul in despair.
At 5 weeks old the owner asked us to take him home. Traditionally you leave a pup with its Mom and siblings until at least 8 weeks. Poor little Rosie could not keep up with Rolly's demands for sustenance, and she had three other pups.
We brought home this tiny piece of fluffiness. His brown eyes seemed to welcome me into his heart. One of our kitties welcomed him by adoption. We were stunned. This kitty had been feral when we brought her home, still a kitten. She taught him where to eat. She groomed him, and taught him to groom himself. She was even patient when he would gambol about her trying to get her to play with him. He played in the awkward, tooth and wrestle way that puppies have. It was plain that she was quietly ENDURING his play. After about 5 minutes she would stand up, shake herself, and in a dignified manner RUN from this little hoyden.
Far too quickly seventeen years came and went. The world rotated, our family dynamic changed drastically, and now our adorable pup was old. His front legs didn't really want to work anymore. He could no longer traverse the two short staircases in our house. Yet he was no burden. We had another small dog, and a cat, and they both adored him.
A block before our daughters would arrive home he would begin to bark, and nothing stopped him until they walked through the door. He would then begin a dance of delight, even when he had to drag one leg about because it no longer worked properly.
We tried medicating him for pain. We started in the daytime. He HATED IT! It made him feel unlike his usual self. So we switched to medicating him at night. This was a success as he slept better and had more energy the next day.
I knew that he would not last forever. We conversed as a family, it's such a tender line when caring for an elderly pet. Is there more of suffering than joy in his life? Is it the responsible thing to euthanize a pet when old age has caused so much change?
We had made that oh so difficult decision two years previous with our beloved Katty. She developed bladder cancer so it was not really a difficult decision. She was MISERABLE! Surgery could have helped, MAYBE, or it could have made her even worse. At 18 years old she might not even survive the anesthesia. It was with a heavy heart that we made the heart breaking decision to euthanize her.
I could NOT make that decision for Rolly. My husband used to tease me that Rolly was my favorite child. He was NOT my favorite human child. He WAS my favorite fur child. Over 17 years of life and love he had wrapped himself oh so warmly into my heart.
I was reading when I heard his breathing become labored. He had been a happy normal just two hours previous when I took him outside to the "bathroom." As usual he had turned his smiling face into the breeze.
Now it was obvious that he was dying. I did not know if it would be soon or later. At 17 there were no life saving practices given. We all will die sometime, and I knew that this was his time. Knowing that, did not bring me much comfort as I watched my sweetie dying by degrees.
We had purchased a special doggy stroller to take him for walks when his legs no longer would make it further than the driveway. He would sit up in his stroller with a firm and happy smile attached to his beautiful face.
Gently I eased him into the stroller and took him for a very short walk. Next I put him in our backyard and dashed inside to get a sheet for both of us to lie on. When I returned it was ever so obvious that his life had ended. Sobbing I held him and rocked him, just as I had done when he was a puppy. Time ceased to exist as I realized that my life was now going on without his gentle love.
Our family and a dear friend went through the process of preparing a grave on the hillside. It is a lovely place that Rolly loved, under trees, and close to the path of deer. Wrapped in an oh so soft blanket we placed him tenderly in his last resting place. In with him went one of his favorite toys, and a charming wood cookie inscribed with his name, dates of birth and death. Covering his grave with dirt was excruciating. We collected beautiful rocks and placed them over his grave.
I loathe washing the dishes. This week it has been an unbearable task because now the window before me reveals Rolly's grave. Each new viewing is a jolt as I once again face the inevitability of death. It has been all the excuse I have needed to ignore those nasty dishes.
Yesterday I lay down for a nap. A wonderful dream filled my sleeping. I saw Rolly, perfect, with his magnificent grin firmly in place. He was standing on the hill where we buried him. There were no markings of age. Once again he was the magnificent, adorable, and ever so happy doggy that we adored. The gentle breeze tangled and tickled in his fur.
I will keep this image firmly imprinted on my mind. His grin of love will also stay with me, until once again I hear his bark as he races to meet me again. I love you Rolly, and you ARE my favorite fur child of all time!