A beautiful dog story: There was a family whose beloved dog had fallen ill. The dog passed away and while the family grieved over its loss, there was one member, a little boy, who didn’t seem very upset. The parents became concerned. Finally someone asked the boy how he was coping with the loss. He replied: “Dogs come here already knowing how to love, so they don’t need to stay as long as we do.”
I share this story in honor of my beloved big boy, Ryder, who passed away today. Ryder was the dog of my beloved sister, Judy — and a rescue. He has been my constant companion over the last two years or so. He helped me through the loss of my family’s adored pet, Dr. Watson (he had a PhD in Snackology) and he also helped me through the many drafts of my YA novel.
He was always with me when I wrote — whether he was snoozing on his bed in my little office, hanging out with me downstairs, lounging in Alex’s room, or catching some rays in the corner of my porch where I’ve set up a little wicker office. Even now, as I write this, my office seems so empty because Ryder isn’t here to nap and cajole.
Ryder provided many things for me: love, companionship, an anchor for my day, and sometimes, a much-needed kick in the pants. Often when I was downstairs, the Aussie shepherd/border collie boy would stand by the stairs and bark. He was herding me into my office where I really was supposed to be working. He must have done the same thing to my sister, Judy.
But probably most important of all, walking Ryder offered a structure for my day. Getting up and out with him was pretty much the first thing I did every day, no matter what the weather or day’s events. Later, we would often take a work break in the afternoon and then I would wrap up the day by walking him in the evening. When you write at home, as many of you know, self-motivation can be challenging. But having a structure in place for your day can encourage a disciplined approach to your work. At least that’s how it was for me.
Now, I have to grieve for not only Ryder, but for the rhythm of my day, which is gone too. It’s a lot to handle. I wonder if anyone reading this has any suggestions for me — they’d be much appreciated. Write on.