14 years ago my ex husband (then boyfriend) and I were driving along a country road in Western Wisconsin when serendipity struck. We were in the right place at the right time and something wonderful happened. It was the middle of January, late afternoon, when we noticed two small animals on the side of the road. When we opened the car door to investigate, two little puppies made a beeline for us. We weren’t far from a farm house so we grabbed the pups and drove into the driveway. After knocking on the door for a while, a strange looking woman who was missing a few teeth, and in much need of a root touch up, answered the door. Upon opening the door ten more puppies scampered out into the cold.
We returned the pups and as we were getting back into the car the strange woman asked us if we would like one of the puppies.
We didn’t need a puppy, we didn’t have time for a puppy, we certainly didn’t want to train a puppy.
We were chosen by the smallest dog in the litter, we named him Reuben, after the sandwich. There was always confusion about how we should spell his name but since I am telling this story we will spell it the right way.
Reuben was half dalmatian, half black lab and 100% retarded.
He was also one of the sweetest dogs I have been blessed to have. My ex husband was remodeling my parents’ cabin, it was a long project that took nearly a year to complete. Reuben grew up at the cabin. He spent his days in the lake chasing rocks and the occasional fish that swam by. When he wasn’t chasing rocks he was spinning.
Reuben had OCD. When he was in town with me he didn’t have access to a lake to chase his rocks and would instead find a sock or rope toy and spin with it. He would spin for hours if we let him. The spinning was entertaining but a little disruptive to the house and any children who were nearby so we tried to stop him before he got going. Once spinning, the only way to stop him was to take away the rope and find something else for him to fixate on, usually me cooking dinner, until he forgot about the spinning. We had to put the toys up on the china cabinet or the top of the door so he didn’t get them and start spinning again.
Reuben didn’t like to be left alone. When we had to leave him alone he made his displeasure clear by pulling down the blinds or uprooting my potted plants. Sometimes he pulled the stuffing out of the couch.
We took him everywhere, he was even at our wedding.
Reuben was always happy. The sun was always shining in Reuben’s world. The sky may have been a different color too. As long as Reuben had rocks to chase and spinning to do it was a good day for Reuben.
Reuben protected my children and made me feel safe even when I knew he would hide under the table if someone tried to break in. My ex husband and I had locked ourselves out of the house one night and had to take the back door off the hinges to get in. I watched from the patio door as Reuben hid under the dining room table only to bark fiercely once he figured out it was us. When I was pregnant with my daughter Reuben would rest his head on my belly and then bark when the baby kicked. It never got old and he never figured it out. After she was born he would come and get me when she cried. I’m pretty sure he just wanted to make it stop and that he hadn’t developed any kind of Lassiesque traits.
Reuben loved apples, carrots, cucumbers and especially green beans. He loved them so much we couldn’t plant them in the garden because he would eat them before we could harvest them. Reuben loved car rides, long walks and he especially loved my ex husband. He loved me too, I was his mom, but I was also the one who took him to the vet for neutering, gave him his medicine when he was sick and pulled the 3 X 5 inch square of carpet that he ate out of his ass.
As Reuben got older he suffered from arthritis and a torn ACL. He’d had surgery on it a few years back but because he couldn’t sit still it never healed right. The pain didn’t seem to stop him much or maybe he just didn’t understand why pain happened. We couldn’t keep him out of the lake. He would stay in the lake for hours until he was shivering and my ex husband had to wade in and bring him back to shore. If there were rocks to be chased, Reuben was in heaven.
I don’t know when it happened but Reuben got old. He become incontinent, he couldn’t walk up or down the stairs without falling, and he was nothing but skin and bones. His body had given out but his mind didn’t tell him that. He was still happy which made the decision we had to make so difficult.
Last night, after months of putting this off, my ex husband did what had to be done. He buried him up at the lake he loved so much and marked his grave with all of the “Reuben Rocks” we had collected over the years.
I know he is in a better place. I know he is chasing the big rock without any pain and spinning to his heart’s content. I know all this, but I still miss him.
IDK how I happened across this story but I’m glad I did. I don’t know what struck me the heardest, knowing that Reuben was gone or that the story about him was over…
I’ve got lots of stories about Reuben, I’ll have to write some more of them. Thank you for the encouragement. He really was a character.
Oh, Jen, I am so, so sorry. It is so hard when we lose them. This was beautifully written and left me wanting to hear more. 🙂
How are the kids doing? 🙁
You all are in my thoughts and I am sending virtual hugs.
Thanks Marie. The kids are doing better than the ex and I which is kind of a switch. They understood he couldn’t do the things he did before and had been expecting this for a while.
Oh, it’s so so sad when a dog dies. Even if the dog is the biggest pain that ever lived, it makes its way into your heart. So sorry about Reuben.
And he could be a pain at times. The barking at the skateboarders everytime the baby finally fell asleep. The stealing food off the counter, the stealing of socks so he could spin. He was still wonderful.
I am so sorry for the loss of you sweet, loveable Reuben.
So sweet…I know it is a very hard decision to make and I am sure he is in a better place. :’)
Thank you, I know he is in a better place. I’ve always believed that if there were an after life and each life was better then being a dog would be reserved for the saints and best among us. A dog’s life doesn’t get any better, the only bad part is that it just isn’t long enough for the people who love them.
So hard to lose the fur babies – my sincere condolences…♡
I am so sorry for your loss, Jen. That is a tough decision to have to make, but it is the right one. We have been down that road a few times ourselves. They are not just pets, they are our friends and family. You have wonderful memories you will cherish forever. Reuben sounds like a most excellent dog!
Pets are so much better than friends and family. They don’t bicker about stupid things, they are always happy to see you when you come home and they can’t carry a grudge for anything.
Having recently been through this I know so much of what you are feeling…I can’t say I am sorry enough…. I am so choked up…I am so sorry!
I’m so sorry you have gone through this recently, my condolences to you too.
Rest in peace, sweet Reuben. You were a Good Boy.
Thanks, Daisy, he was a very good boy.
That was the sweetest story Jen, I’m sorry for the loss of your dear friend.
Thanks, Madge. He was something special. Dogs like him come but once in a lifetime.
Oooooooooooh, you said ‘retarded’.
I’m telling PERTA. (‘special’ branch of PETA)
I actually struggled with that word. But the truth was he was retarded. His eyes were set way too close together and if there was a doggie downs syndrome he had it. (I so know I am going to get in trouble for saying that).
Oh this is so sad. It’s always sad when a beloved pet has to go. They are such a huge part of our lives.
My sister’s dog (a spinner) has just had an operation on her back leg. The vet said ‘spinners’ always have these problems and that they must stop her from spinning. They have eliminated the triggers for her spinning, as best they can.
I didn’t know there were other dogs who were spinners. We tried Reuben on doggie prozac but it just made him sleepy. It stopped the chewing and the spinning and the pacing back and forth in the yard but he wasn’t himself so we took him off it and let him do what he had to do.
Yes. The first thing the vet asked was “Is she a spinner?” You only had to clap your hands once and she was off. She spun on demand and we often clapped just to watch her madly spinning. Then we discovered that it had damaged the bone/joint in her back thigh. She also pees with fear at storms or loud noises. I think some dogs are just more highly strung than others.
God Bless Reuben and your family.
Aloha From Hot Dry Florida!
What a beautiful tribute. No matter how long we have them, it’s never long enough. How blessed Reuben was so have such a loving home.
Big hugs, my friend.
It isn’t long enough. Knowing that we won’t get enough time with them makes me almost thing it isn’t worth doing again but then I remember how wonderful the memories are and it is always worth it.
What a warm and lovely tribute! You’ll have good memories forever!
I will, and thank you. Even remembering when he wasn’t so good makes me happy, like the time he ate all the seat belts out of the car.
Your Reuben is on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, but I’m sorry for your loss. I hope your memories of a spinning, happy Reuben carry you through this rough time.
Thank you, we’ve been doing a lot of remembering of Reuben lately and all the memories bring a smile to my face.
Jen, I’m crying here. I know how hard that decision was to make. You gave that little pup the best life he could have hoped for (aren’t you glad he didn’t stay with the toothless woman?) RIP, Spinning Reuben.
I know you went through this not too long ago. I don’t think you ever get over these kinds of losses.
Funny about the spinning, I didn’t really notice it after a while. It was just one of the many weird things he did.
What great memories. It’s a shame that age catches up to the best of us. My deepest condolences to you and the Ex. RIP Reuben.
Thank you, Dave, he was a wonderful dog who never knew he had gotten old. He always thought he was a puppy, which is why he was so special.
Oh my… that’s heartbreaking. What a rough week for you. Reuben sounds like he was an absolutely wonderful dog. I’m so sorry for your loss. 🙁
This is a wonderful tribute, Jen.
I’m not sure I understand what spinning is, though. I mean did he pick something up in his mouth and then just start spinning around in a circle all by himself with it? How crazy is that?
One of my favorite lines: “Reuben was half dalmatian, half black lab and 100% retarded.”
Oh, Jen. My heart breaks for you.
What a beautiful tribute to the big spinning guy. I am teary from reading it, thanks for sharing. Sending warm thoughts your way…
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