Growth Spurts: Rico
My family recently had to say our final goodbyes to our sweet dog Rico. It was one of the most difficult things we have had to do. For nearly 13 years, Rico brought our family joy, calm, loyalty, consistency, kindness, and friendship. He was such a treasure and always a gentleman. If you were petting him, he wanted to touch your arm with his paw at the same time, as if to say, “I love and appreciate you, too.” I cannot imagine a more dear and devoted dog.
Pets are very much members of the family. Rico and my daughter Katie have grown up together. One of my favorite memories is of three-year-old Katie, holding a dog treat, standing next to Rico in the kitchen. She would hold her little hand up and say, “Taay…Taaaay…Taaaaaay…” (instead of “stay”) while slowly backing away from Rico. He was so gentle and smart and [usually] obedient, and he would wait until little Katie got all the way across the kitchen and said, “Okay!” to start running toward her to claim his well-earned treat. My husband (and Rico’s best friend), Kevin, taught Rico several tricks, and if Rico saw someone holding a treat, he would often start doing all the tricks he knew, hoping that one of them would hit the reward bullseye.
This dog loved being part of our family. He got so excited when we invited him to go on a car ride. Any time he heard someone play a harmonica or recorder, he couldn’t help but sing along. If we had been away for a long time, as soon as we opened the door, Rico would run out into the yard and run circles around us just as fast as he could, excited that we were home. When he wanted your food, he was never rude about it; he would simply rest his chin on your knee and glance up at you with the most beautiful brown eyes, until you found yourself gladly giving him the choicest cuts of meat from your own plate. And there was a regalness about him–something kingly. The golden fur on his chest looked more like a lion’s mane, and he loved to sit in the front yard, with great posture and with one front paw tucked respectfully beneath him, as if he were looking out over his dominion. His favorite place to sit in the backyard, however, was on the rocking chair, where he looked like an old soul contemplating life.
We have experienced great sadness in Rico’s passing. But we feel certain that he knew how much we loved him. During his last day of life, we enjoyed one last trip to the Reservoir together, and the rest of the evening was spent loving and spoiling him and giving him all kinds of yummy food. Then the whole family slept in the living room together. The following morning, we took one last family picture together, which will be quite a treasure for us.
I must admit that I have not always been a dog lover, but Rico completely stole my heart. Parents, I’m sure that some of you understand this, too. The rest of your family may beg and beg for a family pet, and when you finally give in, you’re the one who ends up just as smitten. There are precious and valuable life lessons to come through having a family pet. If you are hesitant, may I encourage you to give it a chance? Yes, there will be messes and noises and inconveniences. But there may also be a cherished companion like Rico.