“I would look at a dog and when our eyes met, I realized that the dog and all creatures are my family. They’re like you and me.”~Ziggy Marley
I had intended to write another post about my adventures in Paris–which is still forthcoming–but today I wanted to write a tribute to a very dear friend of mine who passed away much too young. The best friend a gal could ask for: my beloved beagle Linus.
Linus entered my life in October 2001, just months after I had graduated college when I was living with my parents since I was broke and unemployed. It was a time when I desperately wanted something to care for and to love unconditionally. What I didn’t know then–as I had never had a pet growing up–were the many lessons Linus would teach me along the way; lessons I will carry with me always and lessons I will never be able to thank him for personally.
My heart has been filled with so much sadness since I received the phone call Friday morning from a tearful mother who also wasn’t ready to part with her furry companion. When I moved out of my parent’s house in the fall of 2002, we had several debates about Linus’s future. Selfishly, I wanted to take him with me, knowing that I would never be able to afford him the luxury of mid-afternoon walks or backyards for bird chasing. In the end, I let my parents gain custody and I was granted visitation rights which I took full advantage of since my new coordinates weren’t too far from their house.
Linus and I would visit friends together (though car rides were never his favorite), go to the park to chat with local dog owners (with a punim like that, he was hard to resist), and we would spend lazy Sundays in the backyard soaking up the warm rays and watching the squirrels dance. He was not much of a lap dog but would happily sit on your head if you happened to be laying on the couch in the family room. I would confide in him when no one was looking and I am convinced he understood me completely. One night after a fight with a boyfriend, I sat on the sofa and cried ugly tears. Out of nowhere, Linus approached me, gently laid a paw on my arm, and looked me in the eyes. I scooped him up into my arms and he comforted me. He was so good at knowing just the right things to do without having to cut the air with empty words.
I loved the way he would eagerly anticipate my arrival and run laps in the living room while I put my bags down. He would chase circles around my feet, wag his tail, and bring me a bone or the closest chewed-up toy. A few weeks ago when I was visiting my family for the weekend, Linus and I danced a waltz in the kitchen while my mother prepared dinner. I’m not so sure that he cared for it too much, but he indulged me anyway. He was always good like that.
Though he wasn’t the smartest, most obedient dog in the world, everyone took to him. In his younger years, he would chew through seed packets, furniture, and my grandmother’s state-of-the-art, cutting-edge hearing aid. But she couldn’t resist his charm either and told my grandpa she had lost it.
Just before I left for Paris, his Lyme disease flared up again (he had been diagnosed with it years ago). This time, the meds didn’t help and he suffered terribly in his final days. I am eternally grateful to him that he waited for me to see him one last time before taking his last breath.
Over the weekend, my brother and I paid a visit to my parents so we could all say our final goodbyes. On a beautiful Saturday morning, we dug him a grave, filled it with his favorite toys, and laid him to rest on the Ikea owl pillow he loved. We took turns filling it in with brown earth and leaves. Not a dry eye in the backyard that day.
Goodbye, my sweet Liney. Thank you for ten beautiful and very special years. You will be missed.
(My heartfelt thanks to Joseph Costa of La Moda Studio for photos 4-6.)