A Loving Farewell to Our Dog Rambo

This is a hard post to write—because really, what is harder than saying goodbye forever? On Sunday we held our dog Rambo in our arms as he took his last breath. Since that moment, we’ve been in a fog. This is the first major, permanent change that Ivan and I have weathered in the 6 years we’ve been together, and to say we’re heartbroken is an understatement. We miss our handsome boy so very much. The house feels so quiet and empty without him. Adjusting to the loss will take a long time indeed.

Rambo was a black and white pit bull mix who’d already been with Ivan for five years when I came on the scene. We always joked that Rambo vetted me for Ivan. Before I ever met Ivan, I crashed at his house while he was out of town—and even slept with Rambo in Ivan’s bed. He was an excellent nighttime companion! But I wasn’t the only one who fell for Rambo quickly. He had a spot-on instinct for animal lovers and made friends easily. Thanks to his affable face and lustrous black coat, he always attracted attention and pats on the head when Ivan tied him up outside the coffee shop during their daily walk.

Rambo was always up to make new animal pals, too. At the dog park, he was like the popular jock in high school, leading the pack in a merry game of chase. When we brought our dachshund-chihuahua rescue into the family, Rambo bonded instantly with his little sister and immediately took on the role of her protector. She’d torture him mercilessly, batting him on the nose and daring him to chase her. He took the abuse with long-suffering aplomb, joining briefly in her play before flopping on his back in defeat. Rambo even grew accustomed to my cats in the end and adopted an attitude of contented oblivion around them. He was the biggest and oldest in our family of four fur babies, and his dignified air felt like an immutable presence in our life.

Except, of course, it wasn’t. In the last six months, it became clear that Rambo was slowing down. He napped even more than usual, and he stopped running to greet us at the door when we’d arrive home. Because I could sense that his days with us were waning, I made sure to spend extra time whispering sweet nothings in his ear as he snoozed. I thanked him for looking after Ivan and for being his companion before I arrived. I thanked him for protecting us, for showing such unending loyalty. And I thanked him for all the joy he brought us over the years. His love for us was never in question—and when we said our farewells to him last weekend, I saw in his eyes that ours for him was never in doubt either. He’ll always be our number one champion, the king of our hearts. And we’re so grateful to have called him our guy.