Forward to February, 2007...
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Rafik - October 30, 1995 - January 25, 2007
Rafik was a young stray, a gorgeous shepherd-wolf mix with pale silvery fur and beautiful silver-rimmed eyes. I first saw him on the corner of a small side street in Reseda in 1995 as I was walking home after dropping off my car in the shop.
He looked so definitely lost and confused, standing paused in aimlessness just off the curb. I tried talking to him, but he was timid and took off running through the small side-streets, and so I went back home got a dog bisquit and dry food in a dish, and mom and I set out to see if we could catch him.
We caught up with him about two blocks from our house next to a school. One way or another we got him to our home, and he ate some food and lay down on the porch. At that point Mom and I weren't sure what we were gonna do with him just yet, but we had plans for the evening, so we went to see the premiere of the Jane Austen movie Persuasion with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root. If he was still there when we got back, we thought, we will do something.
When we got home after the movie, the dog was still there on the porch. He would get up and run around a bit, then always come back to the porch.
We went in, and didn't let him in the house just yet. We were going to leave him out there overnight... but as it got dark, he started howling and would not stop. So, we let him inside.
And that was that.
We had ourselves a new dog. :-)
I'll always think of him as the Persuasion Dog, because of the movie and the fact that he persuaded us so quickly to fall in love. :-)
Rafik was about 10 months when he came to us, probably born some time in April of that year. He was a SWEET gentle, docile dog. He played well with Tarasik and Marta the two other dogs we had at that time, and he was always a gentleman.
Once, someone had left the yard gate open and Tarasik -- who had a tendency to get out of the house and back yard and almost got lost several times -- got out, and Rafik was with him, and they were gone for about an hour, but then Rafik came home and brought Tarasik along with him! He loved Tarasik and Tarasik loved him very much and they were great buddies.
Rafik was perfectly obedient, smart, and just a perfect kind of companion to have. He was gentle with other dogs, non aggressive, nice to all the cats. He loved my mom so much and over the years would not leave her side. He slept near her bed. He was always happy when taken for a walk or somewhere in the car, but he loved best being inside at home. He did have a tendency to get very, very scared when in a strange place, and once he was scared he would grow still and totally limp and and just sit there, such as at the vet, and you could not budge him unless you could drag him.
Rafik had a beautiful bark -- loud, ringing, and a real wolf howl. When strangers came by the door and he barked, it was LOUD, and then he would start howling so you could hear him for miles around, singing! Whenever he got excited (like when it was time for a walk, or one of us came home), he would start barking like crazy! :-)
He also could run beautifully and gracefully, and it looked like he was flying....
While he loved going for walks, however he also loved snacks and had a healthy appetite, and definitely did not like to get up and move from his spot, so over the years he got very, very fat (as all of our animals are!). The problem was, he was also a very huge dog, so fat and huge meant he had a lot of trouble walking in the last few years. Getting him to the vet and to the groomers was always not easy.
This past October it was hard for him to get up and go outside to do his business. We gave him pain medication for possible arthritis and other age-related issues, and doggie vitamins for joints, etc. It was hard and mom would have to help him get up and lift him from behind every time it was time to go outside, which was three times a day. He would fall several times, and get scared, be in pain and we had to drag him to make him move.
Finally this last week it got so that he would not eat, would refuse food and have little water and bared his teeth a little in a snarl when forced to have food in his mouth.
So, today we knew it was time. I called the vet and around 2:30 PM this afternoon Rafik was put to sleep. Mom remained in the car crying, and I went in and held him as they gave him the shot. It never gets easier to do this thing, but we knew we had to... I hugged and kissed him and he went quickly.
He lived to be almost thirteen, which is a good and long dog life.
He is free now, free of the old and sick body, free of pain, and he is with his pack brothers and family -- Tarasik, Angel and Marta. There is a celebration and a loving reunion somewhere in the green meadows over the Rainbow Bridge. Young and free, they play chase, speed like flying rays of sunlight through the fragrant grass.... And Rafik is running again, sleek and light and fleet-footed like the wind.
Rest in peace, Rafik, sweet loyal friend.
Until we meet again.