I lost an old friend a few days ago.
Our brave little red Dachshund, Rudi, was with us 17 years—a full one-third of my life, and longer than any other pet and most human friends I’ve ever had.
Brave, because he was a survivor of a lot of turmoil in his short, long life.
As a puppy he fell in the pool and was lifeless for 20 minutes. John gave him mouth-to-snout resuscitation and brought him back to life. He gurgled out some water and always ever after that, he would bark at things that no one else could see. He’d stand in the corner and bark at nothing. I was convinced he had been to the other side, and he could see things we couldn’t.
When he was about 5 or 6 he fought off a coyote that jumped our fence. It grabbed Rudi by the neck but he broke from his grip and charged the coyote that was twice his size. He made it through with scars on both sides of his neck and John Superglued the wounds. (See the video in the gallery above.)
He had two of the dreaded expensive Dachshund back surgeries that are common to the breed. His legs gave out and if he didn’t have the surgery done he wouldn’t have been able to walk. We called him “zipper dog” when he had staples down the middle of his back.
Rudi always aimed to please, and after he got trained in a North Hollywood training center he was even better. He walked well on a leash and loved Fryman Canyon, Runyon Canyon and especially the Laurel Canyon Dog Park, where he was petted and played with by Parker Posey, Britney Spears, Tom Snyder and Dick Cavett.
He loved Studio City, too—picnicking at Weddington Park, playing with the kids at Woodbridge Park. He’s been picked up and cuddled by Brad Kriser at Kriser’s Pet Food, attended Heidi’s 10th birthday at Maxwell Dog, and knew Rusty the collie at Rusty’s Discount Pet Center. If there was ever an emergency we went to the Studio City Animal Emergency Centre.
Rudi was in a few independent movies, most notably Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer's “The Fluffer,” and Nicole Kristal's award-winning short “Do You Have a Cat?” where Rudi plays kind of the punch line. No, he's not as famous as Heidi.
Rudi has known Pet Peeves writer Don Helverson, and great animal lovers like Diane Haithman and Alan Feldman. He attended the last birthday party for Studio City Mom Susan McMartin’s beloved Dachshund Wendell.
He was photographed by Dachshund photographer Johnny Ortez-Tibbels, and he attended Emily’s birthday party that Johnny threw. He also attended one of the last Dachshund Meet-ups at Balboa Park that Johnny organized with more than 50 other wiener dogs.
It was at that meeting that he met Patricia, who had a Dachshund like Rudi named Dodger Dog, who she took to the baseball stadium. Patricia came to take walks with Rudi, and carried him because he couldn’t walk well anymore.
My mom is in a local nursing home, and they loved him visiting because they pointed out that at 17 he was far older than most of them at the nursing home. He was pretty tolerant of them all, just as he was of the children who’d snuggle too hard and pull his tail.
My 11-year-old nephew Donovan points out that Rudi is part of the family—longer than he himself has been around. We watched Rudi grow gray, get cataracts, go blind, go deaf. He bumped into walls and whined a lot.
We brought over a local dog whisperer friend to see if he was in pain. No, he wasn’t, the psychic friend said, and he wanted to stay around. Rudi would let us know when it was time to go. We hoped that Rudi would just keel over and die, like Choo-Choo the Standard Poodle, and Miki the Australian Shepherd and Pepe, Rudi’s Doxie brother.
No, Rudi was destined to fight to the end. He wanted to hang on, while one Dachshund pup, Charley, licked his mouth. He stopped eating a few times, and we stimulated his appetite with chicken broth, soft cat food, and it worked for a while.
Then, earlier in the week, he just stopped eating and drinking. He couldn’t keep anything down and just didn’t want anymore. He turned his head and grunted. No more.
We invited Patricia to come with John and I to take him to the vet. It’s something we never wanted to do, but he let us know. Patricia sang while Rudi slipped away.
He licked my face. The last thing he ingested were my salty tears.
Loyal friend. Long life. Good dog.
Johnny has a charity that helps Dachshunds with their back problems called D.O.G.S. and if anyone is interested in making a tax-deductible donation in honor of Rudi, there’s an anonymous donor who said he’d match donations up to a $1,000. To donate click here: PayPal.
And, here are brilliant advice and columns that other Patch columnists have written about on how to deal with the death of your pet. Thank you.
* No Happy Endings—Dealing With Pet Deaths: Actors Joe Pantoliano and Tony Denison Weigh In
* No More Pets Die On My Watch!
* Pet Peeves: To Deal With Grief—Keep Loving Others
* Dealing with the Death of Your Pet
* I Couldn't Save Joy