Saturday, September 17, 2005

In Memoriam...

HERCULES ALE
July 6, 2001 - September 17, 2005

They say dog is man's best friend. Today I found out how painfully true that is. I got home from the Marlins game to find my dog, Hercules, dead on my backyard patio. Hercules was a "retired" greyhound. I put the word "retired" in quotes because he never raced in an official race. For some reason his owner and trainer didn't think he had "it" in him to be a champion and so they they turned him over to a greyhound adoption organization.

My wife and I adopted Hercules on August 28, 2003. For those of you that don't know about greyhounds, they are very gentle and docile dogs. Hercules was playful and loved to follow me around the house. He was a funny dog. Funny in that he had did certain things that only he knew the logic behind. Above his doggie bed, I put up a sign I found in a pet store. It says "Warning, Strange Dog."

He used to love to grab the throw pillows or the monogrammed blanket from our couch. He seemed to do it to punish me for not taking him to work with me. No matter how many times I scolded him, I'd get home to find those pillows or the blanket in "his" room, my den.

He was a part of our family and it's probably hard to understand the attachment one can have to an animal unless you've had one. Since he died very unexpectedly, I guess you can say I'm still in shock. And indeed, I feel like it was my best friend that died. For the moment I'm taking comfort in the following poem. I'm not ashamed to say that it moved me to tears the first time I read it and I'm not ashamed to say that I'm in tears as I post it here now.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...
If you are ever looking to have a pet, I highly recommend a greyhound. You can find out more information about greyhound adoption at Friends of Greyhounds. Tell them that a champion named Hercules sent you.


7 comments:

The Universal Spectator said...

Coño, Henry, my heart goes out to you bro. My dog is over thirteen years old and I fear facing what you are going through. Hang in there...

Val Prieto said...

Man, you have my deepest sympathies. I have lost two dogs in the past three years. Neither one's loss was easy. All politics aside, the following poem hleped me cope with theloss of my buddies:

My dog has died.

My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.

So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.

Pablo Neruda

tocororo said...

you know maybe he was poison .somenthing he ate or drank ?

tocororo said...

its very rare for a dog to die like that without a warning

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

I described how I found him to his vet, and he believes he died of some sort of internal bleeding such as blood vessel rupture. Hercules' grand sire died of a similar rupture when he was 7 years old. When I found him he looked like he was sleeping but he had blood droplets in his nostrils and mouth, which the vet thinks came up through his trachea if he had blood in his lungs.

tocororo said...

Umm …sounds like something hereditary.

Robert said...

My sympathies to you and your wife.

The poem is very touching indeed.