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A Eulogy For Arnie

“Legacy. What is a legacy?
It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.
I wrote some notes at the beginning of a song someone will sing for me.“
― Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: The Revolution

Are eulogies for animals a thing? Do we celebrate their lives in the same way?

I think the answer for me is… Yes, we do.

At least I do.

However, it’s complicated. As much of this is about the life of one animal who changed mine, this text is also about the guilt, regret, and sadness I have for not being a better human to this particular animal. For not being brave. For not being there. All of that will come out in the thing I’m writing here.

On Saturday, October 10th, the world became a little darker. Arnie, one of the most wonderful dogs to ever walk the planet, passed away. He was in the loving arms of one of his humans.

I can’t even begin to describe what this dog meant to me. Prior to Arnie, I had loved dogs but I never called one of them my friend. Arnie was my friend. He was one of my best friends. And like most of my friends right meow, I failed him.

I hadn’t seen him in more than 2 years. Families splitting up can be a hard situation. There are things like kids, animals, property, and housing to deal with. Then there are the emotional stresses that come from the split and how to navigate so that the kids are taken care of, the pets are cared for, the property is managed and new homes are acquired for some. For my part, I’ve handled a lot of that badly. In both logistical and emotional ways, I neglected Arnie (and the other dog and cats in the family… oh and a bunny too) by not making an effort to see him. I didn’t want to rock the boat, for reasons. And for that, I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to one of my best friends.

In those 2 years since I last saw him, it was discovered that Arnie had a heart condition. Then more recently it was discovered that he had cancer… which was apparently treatable except that heart condition made it unfeasible. So you can imagine the complex set of emotions that ensued for all.

I didn’t get to see him before he passed. Beyond the immediate level of grief I had when I found out he was going to die from the combination of ailments he was suffering from, denial and sadness had set in. Combine that with doubt and fear in reaching out to be able to see him, I failed him when he might have needed me the most.

I will regret to my dying day that I never got to say goodbye.

But I do have the memories. And pictures and videos to remind me of just how special he was.

This is my goodbye to him. Written in a language he would never really understand to express sentiments that he could only feel in person. This is for me.

I miss him.

This is what he meant to me.

Like I’ve said previously, Arnie was one of my best friends. That’s my perception of the situation. I’m sure to him, I was just a part of his pack. And Arnie had a special relationship with everyone in his pack, from his humans to the other animals that lived in his life. As a part of Arnie’s pack, you knew you were special. Arnie had a unique relationship with each of us. These types of connections started when he was a puppy and only grew with his time with you. I can only imagine how it was there until he passed away.

Arnie was one of the most unique dogs I have ever met. He could just communicate by looking at you. You could tell what he was thinking just by making eye contact. Arnie didn’t like eye contact unless it was something he wanted or needed. When it was there, it was serious and you paid attention. And he wasn’t much of a barker. When he barked, you knew that he meant business. Now maybe this was the kinda thing each human develops with their animal, but Arnie did this with every human he encountered (or as far as I knew).

He was also the greatest squirrel hunter ever. He was sharp-eyed and vigilant, always on guard against the rampant squirrel population that found their domain in the eucalyptus trees that surrounded his home. Even fully asleep, laying on a couch with other things going on, Arnie knew. He was at attention immediately when the squirrels were running or fighting. And sorry was the squirrel who got caught on the ground on Arnie’s watch. I honestly don’t know what he would have done had he actually caught one.

And he was a “go” puppy. Whether it was a walk or a car ride, Arnie was ready to get going. When it came to walks, he was always taking the lead. Sometimes he would strain to get to the next rock, bush or tree but he was always moving forward. You were always having to keep his pace and could always feel his energy for the “next thing”.

Whenever going on a walk in a public place, Arnie was always gawked at. He was a very unique combination of breeds that attracted the eye. The humans of his pack always thought he looked like a muppet and even had a likeness to the Labyrinth character Sir Didymus. Once in a Costco, a vet walked up and talked to us about his combinations of breeds. She thought he was incredibly unique. He generally appreciated the attention, though he wasn’t all that interested in it. He generally avoided children, but he wasn’t mean to them. They just made him nervous.

Animals, on the other hand, were of keen interest to Arnie. Beyond the squirrel hunting, he’d focus immediately on any other dogs that were in the area. There was, however, criteria that was important to him. If the dog was bigger and more playful, Arnie was cautious and assertive of his own space. With slightly more aggressive bigger dogs, you generally wanted to avoid the situation all together. With smaller pups, regardless of disposition, he wanted to say hello or play. He just felt more comfortable with those smaller than him.

He also was quite possessive of his humans around other animals. Sometimes just jealous, sometimes protective, Arnie made sure that the other animals knew you were one of his humans. Those animals could come up to you, maybe let you pet them, but Arnie was always at your side leaning in and letting you know that he was right there. You were his human.

He was definitely suited to being a traveling dog, as he loved to take rides and get into the front seat of a car. If you were seated in the front passenger seat, you were in his seat and he would sit on your lap to let you know that was his place. Whether it was a trip to the store, a trip across town or a road trip, Arnie was happy to be going. He loved the journey in his own particular way.

And to be a little dramatic, Arnie has taken his last journey. I don’t know what happens after death and I have more questions than answers about what we’ll find there. It’s not that I don’t believe in an afterlife, I’m just struggling enough with this life. And now my struggle has gotten a little harder.

I’ve lost a friend.

I miss you Arnie. I miss you with all of my heart.

PS….

I didn’t know how to fit something into this. I tried at different times, but it just never quite fit. So instead, I’m just going to say it here. In the postscript.

Arnie had many names. Some just came immediately upon seeing him. Some came over the course of his life. All were said in love.

I can’t remember all of them. But here are a couple, the ones that those of us who loved him would use repeatedly to call out to one of the best puppies in the world.

In no particular order… Sir Poopsalot. Arnito Burrito. Doctor Von Poopenstein. Arnibus. Arnie Blarney. Doodle. Mister Mister.

Good bye Arnie.


This appeared as a facebook post on October 13, 2020. It included pictures that I hope to get sorted into this essay.