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In Memory of Ralf

Ralf  (3 months) on the hearth – his favorite spot
We had to say good-bye to our dear, sweet Ralf today.
He has been a part of the family for the last twelve years and helped us celebrate numerous milestones. Honestly, it’s hard to remember a time when Ralf was not a part of the family.
Ralf saw three high school graduations, two weddings, two deaths, and the birth of a grandchild.
He was there for each job shift – and there were many.
While life constantly changed around us, Ralf remained the constant.
Ralf helped Mandy overcome her fear of dogs
We first got Ralf to help Mandy overcome her fear of dogs. Before Ralf, Mandy would cringe if she saw a dog a block away. But Mandy and Ralf soon became fast friends. It was all because of his endless patience and unconditional love.
If Ralf had one weakness it would be… he could never say no to the ladies.
Ralf sired nearly forty puppies!
And we had numerous owners tell us later that these puppies were the best they ever had. We were not surprised. It was in the genes. Ralf was the best dog.
Ralf’s first litter of adorable puppies
Even as a puppy, Ralf was easy to train. All I had to do was speak his name and give him a stern look and he would obey.
He was so intelligent that I fear we hindered his full potential. At a very young age he knew the difference between bone, toy, and sock. He learned commands such as sit, lie down, stay, and high five. He would have made a great assistance dog. But he assisted us instead.
Ralf started as an only dog, but that didn’t last long. Because he was the perfect dog, we wanted more. Over the course of his life, we added three dogs to our family and another three  “cousins” With each newcomer, Ralf welcomed them into the fold with overzealous love and full acceptance.
The Wise one and the Grasshopper
The adoption of the basset tried all our patience… but not Ralf. He gently but firmly managed to put Feeny in his place and help us train the wild and crazy pup. I fondly referred to them as the Wise One and the Grasshopper.
We thought we would lose Ralf two years ago when he experienced numerous nosebleeds, some severe. But he came through that as stoically as always. I think he knew his time on earth was not yet over.
Ralf was not an affectionate dog, but he was full of compassion.
Ralf and his blankie
When I had my accident this past January, I will forever remember his face staring at me as I lay on the floor. The other dogs eagerly chased the pizza that flew out of my hands, but Ralf remained by me. He lay just a few inches from my head, his paws crossed and his eyes full of concerned.
Don’t worry, Mom. I’m here for you. I will wait until you get better.
And wait he did. I was officially released from doctor’s care mid-April.
I can’t imagine the pain he felt these past few months. He could barely walk. He struggled to stand. He had numerous tumors all over his body. And yet… he never whimpered, never complained, demanded special treatment. He had a mission and refused to leave until it was accomplished.
Thank you, Ralf, for all you gave us.
March 21, 2004 – May 7, 2016
For your unconditional love. For your loyalty. For your exuberant welcome home – no matter if we were gone for months at a time, or a five minute walk to the mailbox. You never failed to wag your tail and offer kisses.
You blessed us more than we could ever imagine. You can never be replaced.
But I know you are in a better place now, buddy.
There is no more pain across Rainbow Bridge.
I know Mia and Jude were there on the other side, greeting you with outstretched paws. I know you met up with Freckles and Bella and little Myla too.
You are chasing squirrel-ies again… and feasting on steak bones every night. I miss you greatly, love-dolly. And I will love forever and ever.

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