Long May You Run


"Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them.  Filling an emptiness we don't know we have."
Thom Jones

How true this can be.  Six years ago, my sister adopted a dog.  She saw him on the TV news when the New York Fire Department pulled him out of the river.  He was originally rescued by the Animal Police from an abandoned city tenement, and was in the care of the ASPCA.  While being walked in Central Park, he bolted and ran, until he could run no further, and was lifted off a rock in the river by a group of big burly men, who spend their days mired in human pain and tragedy.  They had no idea that the life they had saved would add so much to another's.

Sis was in the midst of packing for her weekly business trip.  Without exposing too much of her private life, let's say her job took her away to different cities, most Monday nights.  In the fall.  Up until January, right around Superbowl time.  Okay.  She has five emmys.  Oops, I'm digressing.

Anyway, who can say why she had the news on at that particular time, (who watches the news?) but the story stopped her in her tracks.  I got the call: "I just saw a dog being rescued from the river on TV.  I think I want to go get him."

I tried to talk her out of it siting the constant traveling and inconveniences of New York apartment living with a dog.  The night time walks in the freezing winter for a person who is perpetually cold.  But she persisted and within a week Valentino was home.

The bond was instant. Before long he was the proud owner, of a rain coat, rain boots, and an orange sweater because the wind made him shiver.  His feet were tender and the snow salt irritated them, so  at night they were coated lovingly with neosporin and covered with socks from Baby Gap.  She would have side conversations with him while we were on the phone where she would refer to herself as "mommy."

 She began interviewing dog walkers, as her job kept her away quite a bit.  Suddenly, her life was full of  "dog people."  Anyone who has ever loved a dog, knows the kind of person I mean.  It's more that sticking a bumpersticker on your car that reads "I LOVE MY SCHNAUZER."  It is a person who feels true love,  respect and the need to protect the four legged, gentle being that asks for nothing more.

Central Park became her second home and these folks her second family.

From the beginning it was clear that Valentino was just passing through.  Sometimes, for no apparent reason, he would run.  I think dog walkers refer to these types of dogs as runners.  Something would rise up in him and tell him to go.  And so, he would run.  He got away from his dog walker a few times, so sis bought an extra collar.  He was walked with two collars and two leashes, so when the urge to go struck, he would be safe.  When he did run, the only thing that could bring him back, was the sound of my sister's voice calling his name.

Last week,  he saw an open door and flew through it.  Those who saw him last, say he looked back once, but the desire to run won out, and he disappeared into the trees.  Sis got the call a few hours later, after a futile search, that Valentino was no longer.  He is buried in a peaceful spot in the country, under a marker that reads, " VALENTINO.  LOVING FRIEND"

We will never know what it was that made Valey run. Was it just the sheer joy of being free with the wind at his face, or was it a search for something deeper.   I like to think he found what we all spend our lives searching for, the light at the end of the tunnel.

Rest in peace dear Valentino.
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Comments

  1. Thank you for that wonderful obituary. I know and love your sister and know how she loves her pets. Valentino had a wonderful life with her. He and Guy will greet her when she crosses the rainbow bridge. Salute to you "Kokobaum". I admire you from afar.

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