Anyone who knows me quickly finds out that I am a dog lover. Until Monday, we had three poodles, two standards – Rowley and Rudy – and one miniature – Rickey. Large dogs age faster than smaller ones and Rowley was hanging in there a little over three weeks shy of his fifteenth birthday. In human years, Rowley was in his mid-eighties and as a senior citizen, his behavior told us humans that we need to pay more attention to his needs.

We spoil our dogs and treat them like our children. One reason we like standard poodles is because they are second smartest breed (after Border Collies). They are like a fifteen month-old child with four legs and fur. They understand what you say and communicate through behavior and sounds.

I can spend hours telling funny stories about Rowley who’s attitude toward life was, “O.K. human, just tell me what me to do and I’ll do it.” He could be stubborn and independent and he had a jaunty, poodle prance.

When he was about six months old, I started taking him with me on my daily runs. We began with shorter distances until he could go the full 10K I would run five to six days a week. I would huff and puff in a jog and he would canter easily along.

Even at fourteen plus, when I’d get ready to take Rudy, our three year-old standard for his daily walk, Rowley would look as if to say, “I’m still here and I want to go too.” So, the three of us would go out for short walk to satisfy him.

Rowley was a hunter and would bring back rabbits, squirrels, possums and skunks. Rowley would proudly drop his latest victim at your feet and look at you waiting to be praised.

Around two o’clock on Saturday morning, June 8th, Rudy woke me by making a growling sound. As soon as I stirred, he led to Rowley whose legs were flailing and he was groaning in pain. When it was over, I tried to get Rowley to stand up and while he could, when he tried to walk, it was if he had way too much to drink. And, he carried his head at an odd angle. I was convinced he’d had a major stroke.

In the morning, Rowley was no better. He stopped drinking and wouldn’t eat his favorite treats and couldn’t walk without falling down or staggering. We made an appointment for Monday after talking to the vet who confirmed Rowley probably had a stroke and at his age, probably wouldn’t recover.

It was time and I think Rowley knew it too. And, it was hard, very hard. Rowley was the fourth dog we’ve had to put down and it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, it gets harder each time because as you get older, you realize more and more how precious life is.

Tears streamed down my cheek as I held Rowley’s head in my lap as they put him to sleep telling him I loved him and I was sorry because I knew I was killing him. Writing this blog makes me cry.

Rowley, I miss you. You were a very special animal and anyone who knew him, liked him. I will always love you and cherish your time with us.

Marc Liebman

June 2018