I didn’t grow up having any pets but Linda had always insisted that we would have a dog once the kids were of age. In January 1998, after a few years of renting, we finally bought a home of our own and within days of moving in, Linda had begun the search for our first dog.
Sunday morning of that President’s Day Weekend, she called the Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter and was told there were 2 puppies up for adoption: Becky and Parkway (named because she was found abandoned on the Garden State Parkway). We drove over to the shelter, filled out all the required forms, went through the required interview and were put in a room to wait for Becky to be brought in as Parkway had been deemed to skittish for adoption at that time. All the while, I was still actively stating that I really didn’t want a dog but Linda and the kids out basically told me I was out of luck.
Jill, the adoption supervisor, brings in Becky, a mutt who looked very much like a German shepherd puppy and all I saw was a big ball of molting dog hair. Becky hits the ground and proceeds to put her front paws up on Zach’s shoulders and lick him for the next 5 minutes. Tiring of this, she walks over to Allie, sits in her lap, curls up in a ball and goes to sleep. Ladies and gentleman…game, set and match! I state this is only the first dog we have seen and we don’t have to get this one but at that moment, even I knew that this was the one.
We were told to come back Tuesday with proof of residency (Monday was a holiday so no mail or bank access), at which point Linda whips out a file with our mortgage, utility bills and other assorted papers to prove we owned the house. 30 minutes later, our family had a new member.
Becky now becomes Ripley. Why Ripley? Glad you asked. I’m a big SciFi fan and had always wanted to name my dog Bailey after Elijah Bailey who is a character in several Isaac Asimov books. Either that or Spock but you couldn’t really name a girl dog Spock now, could you? So we need a girl SciFi name and right when we went to the shelter I was watching Aliens. It was the Sigourney Weaver character, Ellen Ripley that served as my inspiration. I didn’t really want a dog but I certainly was going to get the honor of giving her a name.
The rest is history. Ripley was a great dog. Loved by all, even my parents who didn’t really like dogs all that much. She continued to be a great licker, would bark whenever she was commanded to “speak Ripley” and a wonderful companion. 3 years ago, we got Cosmo (as in Marshall Street in Syracuse) and she proved to be a wonderful friend for Ripley and gave her new life.
But dogs don’t live forever. About a month ago, Ripley started showing signs that something was really wrong. After a couple of trips to the animal hospital, Linda and I decided to try and make her as comfortable as possible. Over the last couple of weeks, she appeared to rally as if she knew that Allie and Zach would soon be leaving and she needed to put her best game face on.
Yesterday, Linda and I returned from dropping Zach off at SU and helping Allie get settled her in new apartment there. In the 3 days we were gone, we could tell that Ripley’s rally had ended. It was if she knew she had done her job – to get the kids off without to much concern for her own well being.
This morning, she could get no longer eat and movement was next to nothing. I picked her up, carried her to the car and than into the vets office. She barely moved in my arms. A few minutes later, we put her to sleep. I petted her as she took her last breaths and I kissed my sweet princess good bye.
As I write this, you can just imagine the tears streaming down my face but I know the sorrow will end and only the wonderful memories will endure. I only wish she had had the strength to speak to me one last time or give me one last lick because nobody will ever lick me like my Ripley.