On losing a Best Friend

Yesterday Charlotte and I had to take one of the toughest decisions of our lives.  After 10 weeks of valiant struggle, our beloved working cocker spaniel Rufus finally gave in to his anaemia.  We knew we had come to the end of the road when he could no longer muster the strength to get out of his basket when he heard Charlotte in his food cupboard.  The fire had gone out in his eyes, and instead we saw what looked like anxiety, and possibly distress.  We had to do it, and he passed away quietly in her arms at the vet’s.

DSCN0370He was our first dog (I come from a “cat family”, and put up all the resistance to the “dog” idea over many years), and what a way to start!  He was an absolute model of energy, positive mindset, unquestioning trust and love and generosity of spirit.  We never saw a moment of anger in the 7 all-too-short years that we knew him.  I learnt so much from him, mainly in his positive mental attitude.  For him, each day was a series of exciting moments, and when one of these had been achieved he was instantly thinking about the next  (and negotiating to see if he could bring it forward by a few minutes!).  Walking downstairs  at 5 in the morning and being greeted by him was like a shot of adrenalin.  Day in, day out.

Rufus jumping

His motto was ‘never give up’, which we saw in so many guises.  He finds a stick he likes and starts chewing it. I remove it from him, and all his energy goes into getting it back from me.  Eventually I put him on the lead as it is now irritating me, and hurl the stick into the trees.  Half a mile later I let him off the lead, and he heads straight back to where I hurled it and retrieves it.  Amazing.  Bury his ball under a large grey pebble on the beach without him seeing it, and he works the whole beach (which is made up entirely of large grey pebbles), until he finds it.

Of course we are both distraught.  The place feels empty, and the the day is stretching out ahead of us without any purpose as I sit here and write this.  The slightest thing triggers the tears (coming in the back door after feeding the hens:  where is he, he should be at the door checking out whether anything exciting is about to happen?).  My face is sore from being dried off with a salty wet hanky.  I can’t remember ever feeling like this, not even when I lost my mother last year.  I feel a little guilty about that, but haven’t the energy to analyse it or apply any logic to it.

So there you are, I’ve nothing to give you this week, dear reader, other than to share a few uplifting images and a couple of treasured memories.  Sorry about that.  I was going to do something about Kevan Hall’s new book on Matrix Management, but that will have to wait.  Possibly for some time.

Call to action:  recognise how lucky you are, capture the good moments on camera when you can, take nothing for granted and never forget that we own nothing – we are just passing through.

Rest in peace Rufus, my old friend.  You will never know how much joy you brought into our lives.





About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at www.hownot2.com
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32 Responses to On losing a Best Friend

  1. Beautiful Dog. Beautiful clipping. Moving story Michael. May Rufus rest in peace. Sounds like he had a wonderful life. Dave


  2. Carolann says:

    Michael, I am so sorry to hear about Rufus. Thank you for sharing his photos, the video and your memories. I had to make the decision to put Dottie Dot, my 20 year old kitty, to sleep after she had a stroke. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I had to do it for her. She deserved peace. I miss her every day. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to mourn Rufus as long as you need, he and you deserve it. You and Charlotte are in my thoughts.


  3. luellenschafer says:

    What a love that Rufus has been! Seeing him pull the sled made me so happy. Hard, hard to be without him. Glad you are going to Bath for distraction. May the pub and long walks work their magic. Thinking of you.


    • Lu Ellen, thank you so much. Yes, hard, hard. But we have each other, and take it in turns to support the blubbing moments,! As my daughter said, Rufus wouldn’t want us to be sad, so we are doing our best. Pubs and pampering will help. It feels better tonight than it did last night, so that, surely, is progress?


  4. Pingback: On losing a Best Friend | People Discovery

  5. Mandy Green says:

    This quote comes from a recent post you made on leadership – “Tomorrow’s leaders are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional lives together.” Thanks for your courage and openness at such a tough time and being a genuine gold plated role model. Respect Mr. B. xxx


    • Mandy, thanks for pointing that one out (because I had forgotten all about it!). Maybe this is another reason to Blog; apart from highlighting how wonderfully supportive the Blog community is, maybe, just maybe, you actually learn something from writing about it? But isn’t the Blogosphere so uplifting, when you read all these comments? I am so grateful to you all. I feel in so much a better place now than I did this morning when I came downstairs and he wasn’t there demanding a wee followed very quickly by a bowl of anything, devoured at the speed of light. THANK YOU xxx


  6. Angela Sarabia says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, Michael! Reading your words, I feel a lump in my throat and tears threatening to flow…….and it takes me right back to when I was 18, and we had to say goodbye to our dog, Trixie. She was 15, and I couldn’t ever remember a time when she hadn’t been there. It truly is like losing a member of the family. I’ll be thinking of you! Ange


    • Oh Ange, never to have been without a dog and then to lose it, that has to be even worse. At least I am “grown up” enough to know what I was letting myself into, ho ho, give me a break! It’s not “like” losing a member of your family, I think it IS losing a member of your family. But we are over 24 hours into it, and it already feels a tad less bleak. We have booked a room in a hotel near Bath and are planning walks, National Trust houses, pubs….anything to take our minds off it. Thank you. x


  7. christinapd says:

    Hi Michael, I picked this up this morning when I stopped at a garage during a 4 hour drive home. A beautiful tribute to Rufus, I had to pause for a bit before I started driviing again to clear the lump in my throat. It’s so sad to lose a beloved friend. I’ve sadly lost two canine friends over the years and your post made me remember their unconditional love and loyalty. I also understand the sense of loss you must be feeling and so, like Tracy, sending you and your wife virtual hugs. – Christina xx


  8. Lisa Clark says:

    Hi Michael, I lost my first dog too, about a year and a half ago. I never knew I could love an animal that much! What a blessing he was to me and my family. I’m happy for anybody that has the chance to experience such love and loyalty although it makes it really hard when they have to leave us. Take care. Lisa


  9. PS When I clicked Like, it doesn’t mean that I liked what happened. Only that I shared your blog space and empathize.


  10. What a sweet dog! I’m a spaniel person. We’ve had springer spaniels forever and losing them is almost like losing a child. I’m over the worst of it but I still get choked up when I see photos of Lily, our last one. I was prepared not to like Ruby, the new springer, because no dog could measure up to Lily, but I find I love her just as much and I don’t love Lily less. Your Rufus looks like he was very special. I’m so sorry for your loss.


    • That’s a lovely thought, that you can love one even more and it won’t make you love the previous one less. I think we have decided already that we will have another, just not yet. Different colour and sex, but from the same breeder so the genes are at least similar! What you have written is so positive and supportive – thank you so much.


  11. Tracy says:

    So sweet, thanks for sharing him with us. I have two fur babies that I love dearly (after much resistance to having dogs in the house) and working from home everyday, spending so much time with them, I know the loss their absence will bring. Sending virtual hugs.


  12. julielines says:

    Dear Mike, I am so sorry for your loss of much beloved Rufus, he was and still is an angel. Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos and video, what a bright light he is. It is so hard when we can no longer see and feel their furry presence, I lost my beloved cat Marcus over a year and a half ago and I still miss him dearly. Your post is beautifully written and conveys so much about the precious gifts and learning opportunities all our animal companions offer to us, thank you for seeing animals as they truly are and for loving them so much. Sending much love to you all at this tough time of grieving his passing. XXXXX


    • Julie, thank you so much, your words are very comforting. Yes, I think I learnt more from him about attitude than I have from most humans. He was honest, predictable, and completely true to himself. I never thought he would have so much to offer – he has certainly opened my eyes.


  13. Dominic says:

    A very touching piece Mike and a good reminder about living your life as it happens which you and Rufus obviously did. It is so hard to imagine, when they are alive, that the pain of loss is almost like losing a child when they go.


    • Thanks so much Dominic. I think it must be very similar to losing a child, certainly we thought of him as a person with a very distinct identity of his own. Only we know of no human who could ever show such unquestioning love and affection.


  14. daveloewy says:

    Wonderful, heartfelt words Mike. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and for reminding us that dogs, like all animals, live joyfully in the Now: that wondrous gift that we call the present.


    • Yes, Dave, being grateful for what we have and not living for the future every moment of our lives. Rufus’ absolute peak pleasure in life was a pig’s ear, which he used to start readying himself for about an hour before the due delivery time. He used to lie in the shape of an arrow, back legs out, front legs forward, pointing towards the PIGS EARS CUPBOARD. Hilarious, he used to think this was influential!!! He then ate it (10 mins or so or voracious crunching and ripping) then spend another 10 licking the surface clean of any micro dots of flavour!


  15. Vicki Jay says:

    That brought a very large lump to my throat. I had a dog until the age of 14. He was my best friend and I still miss him. Wishing you well.


  16. Colin Smith says:

    Thank you for sharing Michael. No worries at all about your not doing what you planned, some things are more important, and as you know, these things are never things. At the end of the day what matters most are the loved ones closest to us, be they fellow humans or animals. I am thinking of you. Take care, Colin


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