A Writer's Résumé •
Fellow Traveller •
Some people take up walking because they have a dog; I got a dog because I was already a hardcore walker. Friends volunteered their dogs as companions for my walks in the woods or on the beach. I became close companions with Tigger, whose images appear on this page, and with one of his littermates. When their mother, Nanu, a samoyed-border collie-greyhound mix, got pregnant again by their father, Bear, a magnificent malamute, I got in line for a puppy.
Nanu gave birth to eight healthy offspring on December 17, 1994; I was among the attendants. Being unemployed at the time, I made almost daily visits -- point-and-shoot camera in hand -- until the puppies went off to their new homes. I helped assign their litter names, nearly all from Star Wars. (The exceptions were two of the three girls; after Leia, Star Wars didn't offer many options in the girl's name department.) I cuddled and played with all of them, asking each one at irregular intervals, "Are you my puppy?" One afternoon, when the puppies were nearly three weeks old and I was hanging out in the puppy box, little Han Solo came toddle-trotting toward me with such determination that my heart opened and there was no more question about which one was my puppy.
But what to call him? At the time I was immersed in Katharine Kerr's wonderful Deverry novels, so I had several names from the series in mind. Early one evening nearly all the puppies were asleep in the puppy box. Not mine, however: he was sitting in the middle, surveying the snoozers with mischief in his eyes. He pounced. In an instant peaceful slumber turned to pandemonium and I knew I had a Rhodry on my hands. His namesake, Rhodry Maelwaedd, is handsome, smart, noble to a fault -- and given to berserker fits on certain occasions. Whether I named him true or he's just lived up to his name, Rhodry Malamutt was without question a Rhodry.
Rhodry was friendly, outgoing, and drop-dead gorgeous; he had friends all over the island, and it was a rare trip to town that we didn't encounter at least one old friend and make a new one. Rhodry had his own distinctive Malamutt take on things, which I did my best to channel in the bloggery.
Not long after his 13th birthday, at the dawn of the new year, Rhodry started favoring his left hind leg. We treated it as an injury, with rest and pain-killing anti-inflammatories, but it didn't respond. In late January, he stopped eating. We went back to the vet, whose X-rays identified the problem: a tumor at the base of the spine, probably prostate cancer. With my vet's concurrence, I chose to alleviate the symptoms -- the bum leg, some trouble passing poop -- as long as possible. His appetite came back, and Rhodry and I had another good month before a pathologic leg fracture strongly suggested that the cancer had metastasized to the bones of his leg. Rhodry passed peacefully around 10:15 the morning of February 26 and is buried at Malabar Farm, on a wooded hill overlooking Allie's paddock.
click on the images for a larger view and expanded description