Friday, November 06, 2009

A life of love

I'm so very sad to tell you that this week we lost our Leroy, our underfoot maniac, our grizzled old boy, our little love monster, at the age of 16.We are missing him terribly. Leroy had a way of making his presence felt like very few animals I've known.

He was a dog that wanted to have physical contact with his people at all times, if at all possible. That might mean putting his foot over your foot while standing beside you, or jutting his face into your lap while you're sitting on the sofa. It certainly meant trailing you from room to room, even curling up on the bath mat while you showered.

He was never quite so happy was when he was in the car with his people. He didn't care so much where he was going. He just liked for us all to be in close quarters, and if there were mysterious smells on the wind, so much the better.
This year he got a few good road trips in. You might remember Leroy's trip to California.


He also got a week at the Oregon coast, which included plenty of walks, and a commitment to never let a dead crab go unsniffed.

He was up for a walk in any weather.
And he was never ever off leash due to a perplexing dichotomy in his character. Though to people he was the sweetest dog in the world, other dogs -- as far as Leroy was concerned -- had no place on his Earth, let alone whatever street he happened to be walking on. Woe to any off-leash dog who ambled up to sniff hello to Leroy! Despite many reasoned arguments on our part that his life would be richer (he would get to go more places, sniff more things!), if he would just cease his efforts to destroy all canines, he never wavered. It was like a switch was flipped in his brain whenever he saw another dog: an ATTACK switch. Sigh. But with people? You never saw such a lover.

After the car, about his favorite place to be was crammed between the sofa and the coffee table.


He was keen on a good belly scratch.

In addition to several jumbo-size, mattress-thick dog beds around the house, any new thing to hit the floor became a potential dog bed.

Thanksgiving was a favorite day.
But Leroy did not have to wait for Thanksgiving for poultry treats. For the past several years, ever since his dog-sister Shiloh became ill, we have been in the habit of buying supermarket roast chickens for the dogs. We lost Shiloh a long time ago, but continued with the chickens. Leroy, spoiled boy, wouldn't eat a meal that wasn't fancied up with some meat.

I'm glad we got to spoil him as long as we did. It's just a sad fact that, no matter how much we love animals, their lives are short and we are doomed to loss. Many times in our lives, we will know this loss, but also this love. Not to diminish this love as an end unto itself, but I also think that loving and caring for animals helps to train us to love and care for people, and losing them is training too, for other losses that lie ahead. It's something I avoid thinking about as much as possible, loss. When my mind lands on it it instantly recoils, like a hand that has touched something hot. But loss and grief are a part of our lives, and just by loving someone or something you take a terrible risk that you might have to grieve them.

Of course, no matter what the risk, love is worth it. Life is about who and what you love, more than it is about anything else. And the purity of a dog's love is the finest example. Leroy's sweet face and his devotion were all about love. He might not have been a genius, but he was really really good at love. He had a long, full life -- lots of roast chickens and belly scratches and car rides and comfy dog beds and walks every single day and an owner -- Jim -- who was devoted to him right back, and who will miss him forever, as will I.

We love you, Leroy.





69 comments:

lizardek said...

Oh Laini!! I'm so sorry to hear about your pup. HUGS to you all!

Megsie said...

Oh, I am so sorry that you lost Leroy. We lost our beloved Ralphie (at 17) a year and a half ago, and I still miss him. We have a new puppy now, but it is not the same. He is my children's dog. Ralphie was mine and my husband's. He was an only child for 9 years before we had kids. Sending you hugs and prayers. Leroy was so lucky to have parents like you who loved and adored him. I am so sorry for your loss.

kelvwriter said...

Oh, Laini, I don't know what to say except that you and your husband are in my thoughts right now. I believe that Leroy and my belated dog, Larry, could have been brothers, they looked so much alike. My heart goes out to you...it is SO difficult to lose a beloved pet. We lost our Larry almost three years ago, he was our only "child" for six years before our girls were born. I'm glad that you had time to spend with him at the end, our Larry died unexpectedly, and my youngest daughter, who is now seven, still breaks down and sobbs hysterically from time to time.

I'm choked up reading your thoughts and looking at those pictures...give lots of hugs and kisses to your husband and daughter.

Kel

Deva Fagan said...

Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss. I've always really enjoyed the occasional tidbits about Leroy that you shared in your blog. What a fine and wonderful dog!

I look at my own pup and feel that same sense of mental recoiling when I think about how long we're likely to have with him. But you are so so right about what dogs (and other pets) can teach us about love. I am glad you had Leroy in your lives!

Marissa said...

Thanks for sharing this beautiful tribute. It seems unfair that you have to deal with such sadness during a time of your life that is overflowing with with joy of Clementine and your National Book Award nomination. I've enjoyed reading about Leroy in your blog; he was obviously a special guy.

Natalie Whipple said...

:(

Jennifer D said...

I am so sad. I loved Leroy. He brightened up any post. My thoughts are with you and Jim.

Anonymous said...

Leroy was as sweet as sweet can be (barring as you said any interference from others of his species). I think that Leroy knew that other dogs didn't do him justice and he was concerned about his reputation being negatively perceived by the actions of other canines.) I loved how I could be standing in the kitchen and he would plop himself down right in the exact middle of the checkered floor, and his little sweet nose on my knee when sitting on the sofa and those big, warm eyeballs and wonderful little, soulful expressions. I am really going to miss him. He had a wonderful life and the best parents a canine could ever hope for. He truly did. If there is a special heaven for dogs with the sweetest of hearts, hes there now!
Thinnychoochoo

Valerie Geary said...

R.I.P. Leroy. So sad to hear about your loss, Laini. Thank you for sharing a bit of his life with us. He looked like a great dog who enjoyed every bit of his life with you!

Gondal-girl said...

sorry to hear about your beloved dog Laini, he sounded like a canine angel. x

liz elayne lamoreux said...

so sorry to read about leroy.

such beautiful photos of a full, lived life. thank you for sharing these pieces of his life.

sending blessings and light to you all...

Commander Kip said...

Aww... *hugs Miss Laini* That's sad... Thanks for posting the pictures. I love the one with the Santa hat!

S R Wood said...

I'm so sorry.

"All experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades forever and ever when I move."

Godspeed, Leroy.

Stephanie Perkins said...

My heart is breaking. I'm so sorry for you and Jim's loss. You were AMAZING friends to Leroy — he was a very, very lucky dog, and I know he knew it. The pictures are beautiful. (I'm crying.) My favorite is Leroy crammed between the couch and coffee table. What a sweetheart.

Thinking of you both.

Shannon Messenger said...

My heart goes out to you Laini. It's such a hard thing to lose a pet, but it sounds like you gave Leroy a wonderful life. Thanks for sharing his story--now he will live on forever in cyberspace.

{{hugs}}

Charlotte said...

Aw, Laini and Jim, I'm so sorry.

Debbie (Nerd Goddess) said...

I'm so sorry about Leroy, but what a lucky dog to have you and your husband to take good care of him until the end, and how lucky for you two to have had such a sweet little guy in your lives. You and your husband will be in my thoughts.

Katie said...

I am soo so sorry. I know this must be so hard. In fact, the only time I have ever seen my father cry was when our dogs died.

I'm thinking of you both.

XOXO

~Molly~ said...

(((((Laini and Jim))))) So so sorry to learn you've lost precious Leroy.

We lost our dear old Puppy-girl(15) in mid-September and I was missing her terribly this afternoon.

Molly

Lisa Schroeder said...

"Life is about who and what you love, more than it is about anything else."

So true. Thinking of you and Jim, Laini, knowing how hard this is. And knowing Leroy was the luckiest dog in the world.

{{Hugs}}

Deirdre said...

I'm so sorry. What a good dog he was.

lkmadigan said...

Oh, Laini and Jim.

I'm so sorry.

He was a good boy.

I'm really glad I got to meet him.

Thank you for all the sweet photos and stories about him.

xo

Lisa

Vijaya said...

I'm sorry. This was a lovely tribute, Laini. Remember, all dogs go to heaven ... Hugs.

deowriter said...

Oh Laini and Jim, I am so sorry. It is so hard to lose our fur children. Leroy was such a great dog. Your post says it all. What a sad day!

beth said...

As I started reading this post, I was first filled with joy at the obvious wonderful life Leroy had. As I started to feel the weight of your loss (so much lesser than your own, I know), my own dog, a 3 year black Lab named Sirius, pushed his nose under my elbow to jiggle my hand, his plea for attention. I rubbed him with one hand, continuing to scroll down and read, and Siri wiggled his way up so his elbows rested on my legs, then pushed my arms aside so he could stand on my thighs and lick my face.

I must admit that I paused in reading to scratch his belly, then throw his ball. Now I am typing one handed, the other hand on his head.

I didn't want you to think I distracted as I read, but I thought you'd understand my need to pause and play for a moment, before returning to comment that, as I read, my eyes filled with tears for your loss, and my own eventual one, and all the loss--and joy--any pet can provide.

Myrna Foster said...

I'm sorry :( It's so hard to loose a pet, but they are worth it. You're right about that. I love the pictures, especially the one where you're wearing a red shirt. You can see the love and happiness.

Goddess Leonie * GoddessGuidebook.com said...

Oh sweetie... so much love to you, Jim and Leroy for sharing so much love, joy and adventures together... what a deep, deep blessing to witness....

Michael said...

Ach, this post left me watery-eyed. Am sorry for yours and Jim's loss, but it sounds like Leroy had a fine, long, love-filled life. Which is all any of us can hope for.

Shari said...

oh, Laini, so sorry to hear of your loss. It was his time and he lived a wonderful happy life with you and Jim. The BEST a dog could hope for, complete with roast chicken dinners! Oh, and the adventures you took him on...he was a true King among dogs and what faithful people you were to him. Missing him will last forever, but may the times of expecting to see him and not have him there, may those times pass quickly and Peace be in your hearts.

Deb Legg said...

Thank you for sharing his life with me, he's a beautiful pup. I especially loved the santa hat pic.

Heather said...

Oh guys, I'm so sorry! I will miss never having had the opportunity to meet Leroy. It was clear he was an integral part of your family. Lots of love and thinking of you! Take care.

Catherine Denton said...

What a sweet life he had. Thank you for sharing. You are both in my thoughts today.

Shveta said...

Laini. *love*

I came here to congratulate you on the mention in the NYTimes, but then I saw this. What a beautiful tribute to your dear friend. I especially love the picture of you sitting with him. So much love there.

A life of love, indeed.

Sarah said...

I'm so sorry to hear that Leroy is gone; I visit your blog often and loved it when he made appearances in posts.

Emily said...

Ohhh--how sad. I'm so sorry for your loss. We lost 10 year old ginger last year, and we still miss her.

-flemmily

missalister said...

What a big old sweetheart, Leroy! It’s so sad to hear of such a beloved friend leaving. My devoted pup will be fifteen this coming March, and he’s showing more and more signs...
What you wrote here, this sweet tribute to Leroy, has so many smiling truths: the purity of a dog’s love, the love over the loss, the teaching our animals give us that make us better humans for now and ever. Love is worth it. Like a mantra, it helps. But for the immediacy of missing Leroy, I wish Jim and you that divine thing that somehow rests on you that gets you through the rawest beginnings of being without him.
Peace and love to you : )

Mel said...

I am deeply, deeply sorry for your loss....

Sometimes it seems that I have far too much experience in this sort of loss....but I would never trade away the pain of losing them for the incredible love and light they bring with them to this world...

~blessings~

Michele Thornton said...

What a wonderful gift Leroy was in your lives. And Leroy was perhaps the luckiest dog on earth.

Gwenda said...

So sorry your good boy has passed on. It is so very hard to lose them, and yes, worth it. Much love to you both.

jesse joshua watson said...

I am sorry to hear. Many hugs and much love all around!

Amber said...

Beautiful words for Leroy. I'm sorry, because I know it hurts. :(
But he sure was a lucky puppy.

oxox ((hugs))

Tricia said...

Such a lovely post for a beloved pet. I'm so sorry Leroy is gone. Sending hugs to the three of you.

Amber Lough said...

I am sorry to hear about Leroy. We lost our dog, Silver, this past spring. She was 10 or 11 (no one really knew), but she led a happy, cherished life--as I'm sure Leroy did, as well.

*Hugs*

Tinker said...

I'm so sorry, Laini and Jim. I know you must miss him so much. Dogs really are such great teachers of love and loyalty - and sadly, loss. What wonderful love and memories he must have given you - and what a great life you gave him. ((Hugs)) to you both.

Cinde said...

I'm sorry you had to say goodbye to your fur-baby. I had to do the same, and I still miss them terribly. I'm happy you got to love him for 16 years! My Sara Girl had to go to Rainbow Bridge after only 7. I like to hope that old poem is true and they are waiting for us by the big bridge up there.....hugs!

Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Ouch, Laini! Your doggie child. So painful. I'm glad Leroy had such a great life with you guys, though, and got to meet his little sister, Clementine :)

Tend your grief patiently.

Granny Smith said...

This made me cry. I feel so sorry that you have a hole in your lives that will never quite heal. This was a wonderful tribute to Leroy and his loving nature.

a cat of impossible colour said...

I'm so sorry to hear that. Best wishes to you and your family.

Liana said...

Awwww! :( I'm very very sorry, Laini and Jim! I know how it feels. I still dearly miss a family pet who died about 9 years ago.

But it is good to know your Leroy was so so well loved and had such a good life.

***HUGS***

bluepoppy said...

I am so sorry--- what a great spirit he was-- sending you love and light--

Kim said...

I'm so sorry for you, Laini and Jim, and I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding beloved pets and those things they can teach us.

tone almhjell said...

I'm so sorry, sweetheart. There are tears for Leroy and for the never too steep price of love on the kitchen floor in Marselis right now. Big hug.

Jackee said...

So sorry, Laini. My thoughts are with you. You've put it all so beautifully and I found myself nodding as I read your wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your life and thoughts with us.

persnickety_jen said...

I'm so sorry, Laini! I always loved reading about Leroy's antics on your blog. My heart goes out to you.

My family's dog Freckles died when I was in grade school. My brother was so heartbroken that we never got another one. Fish, mice, turtles, and rabbits all passed through in the following years, but no dog. One of my best friends had a dog named Comet, who I pretty much adopted to fill the dog-shaped hole in my life. She was put down on Saturday. But, as sad as I am, I am thankful that both she and Freckles were part of my family, if only for a short while.

Linda said...

my condolences, Laini. Leroy sounds like a wonderful dog, friend, and family member. I'm glad Clementine got to know him!


My word verification is "wroaule", which sounds like a happy dog sound that a belly scratch would elicit, so I'll leave you with that thought.
Bloggy hugs to you!!!

Mary said...

I am so very sorry for your loss....these photos are making me tear up a little. Leroy had a wonderful life, surrounded by love. You wrote a beautiful tribute to him.

anne said...

such a beautifully constructed tribute to your sweet pup! Tears and smiles...just as it should be!

so excellent that Clementine Pie and Leroy got to spend some time together!

blessings.

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Oh, Laini. I'm so sorry. Dog love is so pure and wonderful, and the music of their tags and toenails leaves an awful silence when they're gone.

Esme Raji Codell said...

What a lovely tribute. So sorry for your loss.

Sandy James said...

Oh I am so sorry that Leroy is gone! That is truly sad but on the bright side, it is a good thing that you had him for so long! You guys are in my prayers!

holly cupala said...

I'm so sorry to hear that, Laini and Jim. Clearly he lived a life full of love and treats! Hugs to all of you.

Suzanne Young said...

I'm crying. The pictures say so much. Thank you for sharing them--they're beautiful and filled with love.

Wyman Stewart said...

Some dogs are more than dogs. Leroy may have been a dog, but the photos show he was even more. The special memories a dog like Leroy creates lasts a lifetime. Years from now, he will still pop into your life and put a smile on your face. My words are inadequate, but I met a dog like Leroy once. He was a dog unlike other dogs. Thanks for sharing. I understand your loss. Bye Leroy, wish I had met you.

Kirby Larson said...

I know how much Leroy meant to you both. I know you'll keep looking for him tucked between the sofa and the coffee table. Your lovely tribute will keep him in many hearts now and thus keep his goodness alive.

scatterbeams said...

What a beautiful tribute to your four-legger. I send sympathy and hugs into the quiet left behind. ~Jet

Karen D said...

What a beautiful tribute to your four-legged soul friend. As a fellow animal companion lover, I have loved and lost some of mine but as you said the love it so worth it. May you be at peace during this time.

Shelli said...

laini - so sorry for your loss :( we lost one of our dogs last year and my other one is 15 - getting old. :( i can relate. Here's to Leory may he skip in the sun with butterflies.

Annie said...

I came to this post late. I am so sorry for your loss, it is a beautiful post.

Dawn Hullender said...

Hi Laini, I've just discovered your blog through a mutual friend and when I read this post, my heart broke for you.

Just this past Saturday, we lost our beloved Yorkie Sophie. She was the light in our home and I, being home all the time, miss her so much.

So I feel your pain and wanted to offer my condolances.

BTW, I love your blog.