Monday, March 18, 2013

Good Night, Sweet Prince

We leave the garden this week to pay tribute to a remarkable soul.

I loved Wolfie before he was born. In the months leading up to my adopting him, I felt a terrible hole in my life. Then one night, while visiting a friend, I heard that their miniature beagle was pregnant. And I suddenly knew exactly what kind of hole I had and how to fill it. Without hesitation, I announced that I would take a male from the litter, and I anxiously awaited his birth. Little Bit, his mother, gave birth to only one puppy, and it was a male, so I knew from the beginning that we were planned for one another. I held him on his second day of life. He fit perfectly in my hand. I marveled at him before handing him back and beginning the 6-week countdown to his becoming fully mine.

When I picked him up at the end of his weaning period, he was a ball of fluff with a little orange paint on him, the spots collected as he rubbed against their house as they were freshening the paint. I took him home, gave him a bath in the kitchen sink, and wrapped him tightly in a towel. Then I held him for an hour, whispering again and again in his ear, "I love you so much. I love you so much." And our wonderful life together began.

Wolfie at 2 Months
Wolfie lived a better life than most people do. He was born in Kentucky, and I brought him home to Ohio. But he had much travel ahead of him. Throughout his life, his paws touched down (and he quickly marked some piece of land as his own) in 14 more states: Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. He had 9 different homes, and he made himself comfortable in each one on the first day there. His home was always made complete by our being with him.

He was an absolute adventurer. When we lived in Pensacola, we could not utter the word "boat" without him opening the door to the garage and sitting beside the boat in anticipation of a ride. He would wait patiently in the truck as we hitched the boat to the trailer, sometimes waiting as long as an hour. But he would not leave the truck. The boat never hit the water without Wolfie in it, right in the bow, ears flying straight out, tongue flapping, slobber flinging. He was the king of the world. And when he hit the beach, he ran to hunt for crabs or to body surf in the Gulf of Mexico.

He defied all expectations on our annual trips to Colorado. No challenge seemed too great for him. When I thought I would have to carry him, he would shake me off and scamper boulders at 13 years old, even though he had had two knee surgeries a few years earlier. He hiked as high as 12,500 feet and for as long as 8 hours when he was 14. He loved the mountains.
Surveying His Next Challenge in CO at 13

Taking a Swim in Frisco, CO at 14

He flew on 4 planes. He was fascinated by fireworks and even tried to walk up to a large can of them while they were exploding just to get a better look. He woke up every morning, including his last, excited for his walk. In fact, he lived every day with joy. He did a crazy dance on the carpet almost every day of his life, wriggling and turning onto his back and making snorts. He loved breakfast, supper, and any treat in between. He wanted to be wherever we were at all times, just looking at us. His trademark smile was the light of our lives. His constant companionship saw me through every difficult day, kept me going through my PhD program, and taught me so much about love. He whimpered when I cried and licked my tears away. I loved waking up to find him by my bedside in his later years, asking to be lifted into bed for the last couple of hours of the night. We would snuggle until the alarm woke us. That magnificent creature, in short, made my life wonderful simply by being in it.

Easter Joy at 15
Wolfie the puppy filled that awful hole so many years ago, and as time went on, he grew and stretched and filled me up completely. He died in the early hours of 13 March, just one month short of 17 years old. As he was dying, I held him in my arms, whispering again and again in his ear, "I love you so much. I love you so much." Now, without him here, the hole seems cavernous. But if I just stop and think of that smile and every wonderful day I had with him, I'm filled to the brim again.

Wolfie's Sweet 16
I would love to hear ideas/suggestions for paying tribute to him in my garden. Please do leave a comment if you have any thoughts about a nice memorial.


  1. Wonderful tribute, Becky. I am so sorry for your loss. Wolfie will always be with you, and you in turn just gave a part of him to the world, forever. He was beautiful. I wish I could have met him in person.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Maybe you could make a memorial in your garden; a special spot, with a decorated stepping stone with his name on it and plant a special rose bush behind it or something like that? I know anything you do for Wolfie in your garden will be spectacular and will honor him tremendously.

  2. Well, this made me cry. Was there any garden-type thing that Wolfie was particularly intrigued by? Certain plants, birds, butterflies? You could do the stone with his name on it and then pay tribute by keeping his likes/interests alive in the garden.

    1. Wolfie mostly liked to just walk around with me. He was particularly interested, however, in my favorite gnome. In Georgia, he would often just sit by the gnome. In Florida, he would go out almost every morning, give Mr. Gnome a little sniff (like a "how do you do?") and then water him! So the gnome will be part of the memorial, for sure!