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Published: January 27th 2016
"My soul has learned what it came to learn, and all other things are just things. We can't have everything we want. Sometimes, we simply have to believe." - Garth Stein
I remember the day we picked him out all those years ago, the open expanse of the dusty farm and the greyness of the sky. There were big males with their equipment swinging from side to side and females, heavy with milk waddled around the corner of the barn, trying to find reprieve from the endless hungry mouths. I can't remember how many there were, but there seemed to be hundreds of pups, penned in a large area by the breeder, free to run around and show themselves off. They ran in a fast circle, more like wild stallions rather than babes fresh from nursing.
He peered at us as he ran, always faster, passing up the others, hopping around like he couldn't decide whether to run or dance. He smiled as he playfully nipped and dodged his siblings, a burst of speed taking him off again. His coloring was blonde, almost white and his ears were perked up with interest at the three strange humans staring in
at him. I thought him too playful at first and had my eye on a quiet, slower little girl, a dog that maybe I could keep up with. But my dad had only eyes for him and I think they both knew what would happen.
It took nearly 15 minutes to catch him, a long time considering all the other pups were eager to be held, crowding around the legs of my dad and the breeder. He'd dip and dodge away from outstretched hands, come tantalizingly close then zip off again at the last moment, tongue hanging out in what would become his characteristic smile. When he finally was caught, he licked and nibbled affectionately, as if to show that it was all fun and games and no harm meant. My dad asked my brother and me if we both liked him, and although I looked longingly at my first choice (who at that point had flopped down and seemed to be asleep) I could tell that a bond had already been made between him and the boys. We all agreed and in minutes negotiations were over and he was well and truly ours. I was finally won over,
no more thoughts of any other dog when, driving home, he settled on my lap, his fur dusty and his paws muddy, licked my hand and nestled his head between his paws. His eyes, dark brown almost black, smiled up at me and with a heavy sigh as if from a soul much older than his few months he settled down to sleep.
Since that moment, Hudson was family. It's crazy how much a dog can hold you all together, how he can draw you in and make you feel Love. He was playful, but never past what you could handle. My dad and brother played rough with him, which he loved and then my mom and I would follow with snuggles and belly rubs, accepted with equal joy. If let off the leash, he'd run and bound ahead, then return to make sure you were following. He thought himself a lap dog long after he was bigger than your lap and he'd jump up into your chair and settle down like he was right where he belonged. He never bit anyone; you could put your forearm in his jaws like a bone and he'd just lick it. He'd
follow you around the house or the yard, always wanting to be near and ready to play, his ears perked up and eyebrows wiggling.
There were times when I was impatient or didn't show my love to him, times which I have always regretted, now more than ever. But it is a human thing to temper love and he always welcomed me back with a lick of the hand or a nuzzle in the neck. He seemed to understand, in tune with his family more than what is natural for a dog and I was convinced, from that first moment in the car, that his was a soul that had traveled a long distance.
I suppose I saw him as a connection to my father, which makes sense when I look back at their first meeting all those years ago. He was Hudson's favorite and could often be found snuggled up in his lap as they both napped on a Sunday afternoon. I could see the heartbreak after my dad passed, even amidst my own grief and I ached to help him understand. I needn't have worried. Of all the family, Hudson adjusted the best. Most might say
it's simply because he's a dog, and sure that's a major factor, but I like to think that he knew he had to be strong for the rest of us. He began napping near my mother instead, redoubled his energy when wrestling with my brother, and sat with me as I found refuge in a book. He became the one thing that brought us back together. My brother and I left as we grew older, but every time we were all back at the house, Hudson's joy was a tangible thing and he'd run around, touching each of us as if to physically link us together through himself. Barking with joy, tongue flapping out and tail wagging so hard his whole body shook, he'd smile and a gleam in his eye spoke once again of his un-doglike understanding.
It has been nearly 13 years since that day at the farm, and as families go, Hudson completed ours. He watched over us, anticipating our emotional needs without even one word being spoken. He defied old age, right up to the very end, never wanting to stop playing and even when his legs gave out, his smile wouldn't stop. I hold
firm to the belief that there was something more to Hudson than his dog existence, a soul that was ready for the next quantum leap. And I hope that in leaving it means he has learned all he needs to from his experience as a dog and will move on to a bigger, greater life. And who knows? Maybe even a human one.
I write this because I need to. I am on the other side of the world as a member of my family is dying and tears do not do him justice. This is not a "lesson learned" and it has nothing to do with travel but as family, his passing should not go unnoticed.
All the Love in the world to my beloved Hudson. May endless fields be before you and may your soul once again find its place.
"Off into the field, into the vastness of the universe ahead, I run." - Garth Stein
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