~To Peter, and the dog that you loved~
“What we have enjoyed, we can never lose…all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
Rook August 15, 2002 – February 1, 2011
I never knew how strong my love could be until I had my first child.
I never knew how deep my grief could be until I lost my first pet, a beautiful lab named Nikki.
Tuesday, Rook, a beautiful Golden Retriever, lost his battle with bone cancer.
Rook was not my dog; he was the beloved companion of my friend, Peter McMurray. Rook was a beautiful, gentle and loyal friend of every member of the McMurray family.
I only heard Rook bark once, when I came to his door for the very first time. He never barked again, at least that I could hear, when I visited his home.
Rook always greeted me at the top of the stairs, tail wagging, eyes sparkling. He loved having visitors and if you were loved by the McMurrays, you were loved by Rook. Once you were part of his world, you were a visitor no more, but a member of his family.
The moment Rook figured out that I would pet him the moment he sat at my feet, we became instant friends. He would often get scolded if he bothered me for too much affection. He was such a big goof of a dog with the sweetest look of longing, I could neither turn him away nor shoo him away.
I once said that if I offered Rook an inch, he would take a yard. And it was true. There was no such thing as too much attention.
It wasn’t long before Rook wormed his way into the hearts of the rest of my family. When we first heard of Rook’s illness, we were deeply saddened and dreaded the day that we would see him for the last time.
Rook somehow knew that it was important to me to have a few portraits of him. I wasn’t able to photograph him the day I planned to. I was anxious, knowing that Rook was probably the only one who knew when his time would come. I didn’t want to miss my opportunity to have my final moments with him.
He waited for me, and on Sunday he and I had our photo shoot and I gave him what was to be his last head and belly rub. He was tired, but he was a happy, willing subject, as I lay flat on the floor in his face; following him around from room to room laughing as the bribing with treats backfired, all in the hopes of getting the perfect shot.
He was his rugged, handsome self. At times, he even seemed to deliberately pose for me.
Since Rook’s passing, I have wondered if I could imagine Rook as a person, who that person would be…today, I figured it out. If Rook were a person, I believe he would have been Matthew Cuthbert from “Anne of Green Gables”. Strong, gentle, playful, faithful, stubborn, but the kindest of human beings that could ever be.
Rook was not my dog, but Rook lives on in my heart just as much today as he has over the last five years, and just as deeply as if he had been my own dog.
This is for you Peter, because he truly was your dog, and you were truly his boy.
Farewell, Rook. You will be greatly missed.