"Adieu Edou! You were loyal to the end. We will always remember your stoicism, and we will all remember that you lived life to serve, protect, and drool on everyone. You were the quintessential guardian of our family. You were the living example of the Great Pyrenees breed. Your ancestors would be proud. Take care old friend. We love you and miss you."
12 years ago, my soon to be better half and I decided to make the logical jump of compatibility and get a dog. We thought long and hard, scoured the Internet for information, and finally saw a dog in Pensacola, Florida that captured our heart. We had never heard of a Great Pyrenees, but for those of you who don't know the breed, here is a the Wikipedia link. We ended up getting our dog from California and he flew across the United States and we picked him up from the airport. I remember that day just like it was yesterday. A little white 12 week old, 20 pound ball of fur with dark black inquisitive eyes looking up at my friend Jim and I as he precariously exited his little airplane carrier. The journey began that day and what seemed like would last forever ended this week when I had to witness what I never thought I would: the death of my Spartan friend. After fighting for months with canine mouth cancer, I decided that Edou should suffer no more. He died like a true warrior in his prime, with me holding him and reassuring him that I would see him again.
The most significant take away from my experience with my friend and companion of 12 years is that everyone, no matter how strong, will eventually succumb to the tests of time. This should not be something to be depressed about. On the contrary, one should live life everyday to the fullest. Don't let one second go by without smelling the sweet aroma of a bank of flowers, or feel the power of the ocean, or look at your kids or grandkids frolicking in the backyard. Take it all in, just like Edou did. His final day he spent outside with me in the backyard looking up into the sky (he liked to bark at birds) and smelling the air for potential threats. He truly was "on call" until his last breath; never complaining about the pain that he felt even though he sometimes needed me to pick his 110 pound carcass off the ground to stand up. At my retirement, I spoke of "Earning it," a quote that I stole from the movie "Saving Private Ryan" when Tom Hanks tells the young private to earn his life since many soldiers sacrificed themselves so that he could live. Earning your life everyday should not only be a privilege but your mission. The Spartans earned their lives so much so that the only ones who were remembered (grave stones) in death were those who died in combat and those who died in child birth. Now that is earning it! Recognizing your own mortality is a privilege that should not be taken for granted. Life should be worshiped everyday, because, in the end, we are the product of our experiences. Others will remember you for who you are and what you have done. You can write your own legacy either with a stinky white board marker or a classic fountain pen. Your choice. Edou lived life to the fullest extent possible. He was always there for us. He never complained. He was steadfast, loyal, and strong to his last breath on this earth. Will you be the same?
In the end, Edou taught me that I need to re-examine what really is important in life. Something that we should all do right now. It is easy to get caught up in the rat race and lose touch with not only your family, but with your own sense of being. So even though Edou is gone, he can still teach us all about how to live our lives, with compassion for others, a mission to earning your life everyday, and truly living it to its full potential.
"Lean into it!"