The worst part about living with dogs is when we lose them. Sometimes we know it's coming. Sometimes we don't. Either way, it's difficult to say goodbye.
We lost Romeo, our beloved Vizsla suddenly on Friday, May 18, 2018. Exactly three weeks shy of his 9th birthday, June 9, 2018.
By all accounts, he should have easily made it to his 9th birthday and well beyond. Up until the week of his death, he was the fittest nearly 9 year old dog you could ever meet.
Romeo needed and loved a lot of activity. We did off leash walks twice a day.
Once in a while that did not happen due to weather, injury or such, but that was the exception. For the vast majority of his life with us, he got those two daily off leash walks.
But our walks were also about climbing, jumping, doing tricks, and in other ways getting activity other than just walking or running.
He was raised by a Greyhound – Jahzara was 7 when we brought him home. We lost her in 2012, just past her 10th birthday – it was actually May 19, 2012.
She taught him well and turned him into a speed demon – though he never could quite catch her. Which frustrated him to no end that his big sister could always beat him in a race! She was such a great big sister to him, so patient and gentle. And it was not always easy to be patient with Romeo as a youngster.
Then Zuzu came along at the end of 2013. Once she developed her speed, he once again got left in the dust, but boy did he give her a run for her money! He couldn't help but be fast with those two in his life. And for the record, he was not quite as patient and gentle with Zuzu as Jahzara was with him. He was mostly a good big brother, but sometimes he could be a jerk. But they learned to love each other and got along great. Romeo taught Zuzu not to take crap from anyone else.
But just as important as the physical activity was all the mental stimulation. He LOVED to work. Obedience. Rally. Tricks. Freestyle. Parkour. As long as he and I were doing it together (and he was getting paid in treats!) he was all for it. You could not wear him out. Or at least not before we were worn out first. He loved to be doing stuff together. Hiking, walking, chasing bunnies, exploring, playing, working, snuggling.
While he was very very active, he also was the best snuggler in the world. (Ok, everyone who has ever lived with a Vizlsa might try to claim that title too.)
Did not matter if I wanted to snuggle or not. Did not matter if there was no room to snuggle. Did not matter how much work I had to get done. Did not matter how hot it was. None of it mattered.
If his Momma was sitting down, he wanted to snuggle. When he was a puppy, the ONLY way he would take a nap was if he could crawl in my lap and snuggle or if I closed him in his kennel. He would not voluntarily take a nap in any other situation.
If Momma's lap was not available, then you'd find him in the sunshine. The sun room, on the deck, or wherever the sun was hitting in the house. That is where you would find him napping.
Gosh, I could go on for days about what a wonderful dog he was. I could tell story after story after story. And if you've ever done any training with me, you have most likely heard at least a few of those stories.
Some of them are documented in my Juvenile Delinquent Dogs book. I could have listed Romeo as the co-author on that book. He was the inspiration. I wrote it while he was going through his adolescent stage, and boy, he did not disappoint when providing me with material!
You can also find many stories in our blog, if you search under the Category of Romeo's Adventures. Those are just SOME of the stories I have about him.
Romeo was with us through a period of many personal and professional transitions, which at times were challenging.
We moved to our property in Sedalia – now called The Light of Dog Farm – in April 2009. Romeo was born in June of 2009. Sue visited him regularly from the time he was two weeks old until he joined us on August 1st. Our vision for our personal and professional lifestyle was around dogs. It took us several years and a lot of hard work to design the property for our dog lifestyle. And Romeo was the epitome of that lifestyle. He was born to be a “farm” or rural dog and not an urban or suburban dog. He never knew another way of life.
We also had to work really hard to build up our business from just training to include boarding and products that we produce here on our farm. Romeo was a big part of this transition because we modeled so much of our lifestyle and business using him as our helper and tester. In his younger days, he was the dog in charge of greeting and entertaining all of the visiting dogs. And boy, he did his job of wearing everyone out!
If you look at the logo, you see the dog outline in the lower right corner of the logo. That was Romeo.
There is a photo of him at 3.5 months of age posing on a stump. Take an outline of that photo, and that's in our logo.
Romeo is intertwined in everything we have done and developed with The Light of Dog. The training, the food products, the toys. All of it has Romeo's stamp on it somehow.
This period during Romeo's life was tough for Ed who battled several chronic health issues, which he has since dramatically improved upon. Romeo was such a joy to have as we went through this.
When you go through the challenges we had and come out stronger and see our vision for our dog lifestyle coming to reality, you want to share these good times with those who went through it with you. And so we feel saddened and cheated, really, that we cannot enjoy the fruits of his and our labor with him for another few years.
Romeo brought us so much joy. Romeo taught us so much. So much more than we could ever have taught him. We grew and learned together.
I put my all into that boy. My heart. My soul. As much training as I could muster. All my love. As much snuggle time as I could.
He and I were in sync more than anyone else I have ever had in my life. (No offense to Ed!) I knew when he wasn't feeling quite right. I knew quite often what he was thinking. And he knew what I was thinking. I could often communicate what I wanted with just a look. We could communicate with each other without saying a word.
But he died doing exactly what he loved doing, which was chasing a bunny.
There was no long disease that slowly took his life or a long descent into age with all of its aches and pains.
We are thankful for that.
He is buried on our farm at the top of our hill next to our favorite spot for watching sunsets and his favorite spot for posing for photos and treats.
And we have planted flowers on his grave as a remembrance. We will still create memories and experiences that honor his life.