Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rhapsody on a Rhodesian Ridgeback – 9/18/13

Well, when I first started this blog, I was inspired by the movie "Marley & Me", and I thought it would only be my own posts. But today I received the following from a dear friend, Stacy (who I haven't seen in FAR too long). I really loved reading this, but, it reminds me of the same question I keep asking myself: "Why can't dogs live as long as humans?". It's not fair. 

Here is Stacy's post:  

Ranger, my mom’s Rhodesian Ridgeback, passed away last night of thyroid and lung cancer. He had 8 and a half wonderful years with my mom and stepdad. In fact, if I were ever to be reincarnated, I would want to come back as a dog or cat rescued by my mom and stepdad. I know Ranger’s loss is keenly felt by both of them, not only because he was extraordinarily sweet, but because his life spanned the time of when my mom and stepdad started THEIR relationship (at their 35th high school reunion, but that’s another story). Every dog and cat has their own personality and their own story worth remembering and telling. This one is Ranger’s from my perspective. I know my mom and stepdad could contribute many chapters of their own.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed, they were developed in South Africa to hunt lions. They are extremely muscular with short hair and a distinguishable ridge of hair that runs across the back (and gets spiky when agitated). Obviously, they were bred for a warm climate. 

Ranger worshipped the sun and loathed the cold. In the summer, he would bask in beams until the sun went down.

In the winter, Mom put a horse blanket on him, but that wasn’t enough. He would burrow under the covers in his dog bed. When it was time to get up in the morning, Mom would have to drag him out like a sullen teen refusing to go to school. He would actually stick his head in the fireplace.
As with all of my mom’s furry family members, Ranger was a rescue. He was also HUGE, even at a year old.  From day one, he was a gentle giant. He fit in with the other dogs immediately. This was the original trio – Ranger, Guinness (the black collie-chow mix and only one left of these 3), and Scout (the collie-retriever mix, who also sadly passed away within the past year and has her own amazing story).

He even let the cats climb all over him. This picture shows one of my mom’s cats, Teddy, riding Ranger. I can haz giddyup? Teddy, after a long and full life, recently passed away, too. 

Ranger was such a pushover that he allowed another of my mom’s cats (a 10th of his size), Charlie Weasley, to take over his bed. All Ranger would ever do is put on a hang-dog look and maybe whine a little. Charlie is about 16+ years old and still hanging in there.
As much as Ranger was a good pack dog and kind, IF the family’s safety was in jeopardy, he would howl like a hound of Hades and that famed ridge would pop up into play. Like when THIS stranger came to visit and didn’t stay for long.
But most of the time, he just wanted to be loved (is that so wrong?). He used his size to get attention. He would simply lean on you until gradually your legs buckled out from underneath you. I even remember one time when he tried to climb in my lap. He started with a massive paw and then eventually hoisted his bulk into my lap. I laughed until I lost circulation in my quads and had to let him down gently.

On his last day when it was clear that he was no longer himself and couldn’t move, Guinness and my mom’s 2 other new rescue dogs (Molly and Abby) formed a circle around him. When I got the news last night and cried in the fetal position on the living room rug, MY 2 cats ran to my side immediately. They all knew. Animals always know.

He spent his days with his 2-legged and 4-legged family loved, warm, fed, and enjoying all of the pleasures of the outdoors. His life was taken too soon, but the quality of what he had and what he gave was significant and memorable.  Give your furry family members some extra love today and always.

- Stacy Crickmer

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