You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.
~Robert Louis Stevenson~

Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really. ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull~ Yesterday we lost a family member, a writing partner, a teacher and a loyal friend.  Rudy the Wonder Dog is no longer in pain, and for that we are thankful. But as you know, the ache we feel in our hearts can only lessen with the passage of time. When I was crossing the border into the United States with Rudy, I was asked to take him out of his kennel for inspection and to review his immigration papers.   He was a young and very boisterous dog at the time, and stupidly, I had put his leash into my checked bag. Having no leash, I struggled to control him, unsuccessfully.  With my hand on his collar, he literally took me off my feet onto my ass and dragged me across the border. He dragged me, kicking and screaming into the next chapter of my life.   Rudy was like that.  He would, without words, tell you not to be afraid of change, and he just gave you this feeling of comfort and safety.  On the morning of July 5, 2009, as divers searched for my son Stephen, Rudy sat with me on the shoreline, scratching at the sand, and crying, almost as if he knew where to find him, wanting to jump in that water and bring him home. When Stephen’s passed, for weeks after, I would find Rudy lying outside Stephen’s bedroom door, crying. Somedays, I would lie on the floor next to him.  He grieved just as intensely as we did.  And then he moved to my office, to lie on top of my feet for the next few months as I grieved and wrote Gratitude in Grief. We wrote that book together.  And, as only a dog can do, he reminded me of God’s unconditional love.  Even on the darkest of days when my vision was clouded by grief and I struggled to stay tethered to life, he never let me forget that love was all around me. He has been my “one little thing” every day and I am so incredibly thankful for the time that I had with him. I know that some people will say he was just “a dog.”  But he was so much more than that.  And for the rest of my days, I will continue to try to be the person that he thought I was.   With any loss, it is only fitting to have an obituary. Rudy and I wrote this together, our final project.  I will miss his warm fur on my feet. 
Passed away peacefully on August 27, 2018, surrounded by the family who loved him, Rudy the Wonder Dog, the most beautiful Chocolate Lab, aged 14 years. Rudy lived a full life, and was a teacher of unconditional love to all who crossed his path.  Born in Canada, Rudy later settled in Charlotte, North Carolina where he quickly acclimated to the warm sun, and backyard friends. As a pup, Rudy was fond of galloping from one place to another and sliding to a complete stop, slobbering excessively on those he loved, and dragging his butt across the carpet to relieve an itch. (sometimes leaving an unfortunate mark on the carpet)  A lover of pizza, he once completely inhaled an entire pie that was cooling on the kitchen island. He also ate a complete tub of Costco sized margarine that caused his poop to shoot like a rocket from his behind for days and days.  In general, Rudy’s behind provided a daily adventure for the olfactory senses, and he specialized in the silent but deadly variation of emissions that sounded like your bike tire has sprung a slow leak.  But he more than made up for any food mishaps with the love he showered on his family and friends.  An old soul, you could contemplate the mysteries of life by simply looking into his big brown eyes and feel warmth in a cold world when he cuddled with you or sat on your feet on a chilly winter’s night. He was always happy to see you, even when you probably didn’t deserve the accolades he gave to you so freely.  He just loved you without condition, showing us how we should love each other.

Dogs die. But dogs live, too. Right up until they die, they live. They live brave, beautiful lives. They protect their families. And love us. And make our lives a little brighter. And they don’t waste time being afraid of tomorrow.
~Dan Gemeinhart~

Although technically a water dog, Rudy preferred to be carried in the water by his father Brady, especially when swimming in the ocean.  While at the beach he carried his own leash, obliging the “all dogs must be on a leash” rule without feeling constrained from mingling with fellow beachgoers, especially the Golden Lab from the summer of 2014.   Predeceased by his big brother Stephen, he leaves to mourn his loss, mother Kelly, father Brady and brother and best friend Brendan (he had a special and unique wag of his tail when he saw Brendan that communicated so much joy and love that was for Brendan only) We believe that Stephen has now greeted Rudy with joy, and Rudy is once again galloping across a field without any pain…both probably running towards an “All You Can Eat” pizza buffet.   Rudy was the co-author of two books, Gratitude in Grief and Just One Little Thing.  Sitting at and on the feet of his assistant/typist Kelly, he shared the benefits of looking for gratitude while grieving his precious brother.  Rudy was a master teacher of gratitude and its ability to anchor you to the present moment and shared the lessons he learned from Stephen’s passing with dogs and humans near and far.  His co-author and mother believed that he was one of God’s messengers. He was a beautiful and gentle soul who will be sorely missed.  Rudy’s final wish was that we humans could understand this simple truth. God gave us dogs so that we would have in-house instruction on how to give love without condition.  His final hope was that we would continue to strive to love like a dog. Rudy has been cremated and his ashes will be spread on his favorite beach.   .