Last night I was reading an article in Runner’s World Magazine about a family who had been found by a dog who had nudged his way into their heart and found a place in their home. The story (which was true, btw) was told by the dad who was a runner, spoke of the joy he derived from spending time with the dog, whom they named Nick, out on their runs together. They formed a special bond, as did the mom with Nick on their walks together, and the kids with Nick in the woods playing and romping around.
And then the dog ran away. Just up and ran away one day. The family was devastated. They placed bulletins, handed out flyers and talked to everyone they could, trying every way they knew to find their beloved Nick. And then they got the call…it was a lady saying that she had their “Nick,” but that that their “Nick” was actually her “Brutus,” who had simply run off again. She said that he had done that before. The family’s heart sank, but then the lady asked if perhaps they could keep the dog because she had three children under the age of four and a small house, and “Brutus” would be much better suited as “Nick” in a new family setting. Nick's family was beside themselves with joy, so “Nick” came home to stay after all.
Well, that’s the happy side of the story – I was all smiles and bubbles. Then the author threw in a game changer…He wrote of how they fully incorporated Nick into their lives, the runs they took, the seasons that passed, the life they shared. He described Nick as “an outstanding companion, a real head turner, an accomplished bread thief, a gentle giant with children, a foot warmer at night, a perfect dog in every way, except for one thing. Our dear Nick was old.”
It was the line that tore at my heart without having to read another word. “Our dear Nick was old.” I knew what was coming next – heartache. The author then describes finding Nick one morning having a seizure. After a visit to the vet, they took a run together that evening. Then, several months later, he had another episode that he never fully recovered from.
“That morning, before they left for school, Susan and each of the boys knelt down one by one to say goodbye. Once they had left, I knelt down myself and put my hand on his forehead. His ears flattened the way they always had during our runs. It had only been days since we’d been out together, an easy three-miler that seemed to leave him wanting more. Now he couldn’t lift his head from the carpet. I smoothed my palm over his brow. His lips smacked and he began panting weakly. I told him he was a good boy. Good for just being there. Good because his tail swayed when I said his name. Good because he took that name in the last year of his long life, the same way he took his family – as if both had always been his.” *
OH…MY…GOD… … … I almost drowned reading this! This is a Runner’s World article? Seriously? Well, I just can’t handle R.W. then, because that just about did me in. And I only included enough of the article to paint the picture; to read the entire thing is to risk melancholia.
Sigh…I know. I am just a big softie. So sue me.
Rest easy, Nick...what a gift you were to a lucky family.
*Quoted from Runner’s World Magazine, September 2010 Issue, Pet Project by Marc Parent, pgs. 84 – 85.