|Ryla 11/4/2002 - 8/31/2017|
Our beloved dog Ryla passed away two days ago. We have spent hundreds of hours meditating together for more that twelve years.
Many of you at Pacific Zen Institute (and even the 11th Step Meeting) have met Ryla. You know what a good meditation practice she had. Or when I drove out to St. Dot's to deliver or retrieve all the retreat supplies, I would bring her along.
One day I was waiting in line to have a face-to-face meeting with my teacher, Rachel. These meetings are called dokusan. Ryla was with me of course. The bell rang, it was my turn to enter the interview room. But instead of me entering the room, unbeknownst to my teacher, I opened the door slowly and sent Ryla in. A fun time for sure. I understand Ryla and Rachel had a fine dialog together.
Ryla had a mission. She was a breeder for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI).
In August of 2004, Beth and I volunteered to become CCI breeder caretakers. Little did we realized what an impact Ryla would have on our lives and many others.
What an honor and privilege it has been to care for and nurture Ryla’s five litters of puppies until they were 8 weeks old; and then to experience the joy of seeing how almost 50% of her puppies graduated and became service dogs, facility dogs, or hearing dogs, etc. Ryla’s daughter Wyla was chosen as a breeder. And then Wyla’s Dyla became a breeder. What a legacy.
It goes beyond words to try to describe how Ryla touched our hearts; but calling her a family member is a good beginning.
Even though she greeted us every morning, wagged her tail daily, and loved her treat after fetching the newspapers, we suspected something was amiss with her teeth. Last week the Vet took a look and said she needed a good teeth cleaning and possibly 3 teeth to be pulled. This seemed reasonable to us.
Last Thursday I took her in for the appointment. As they were about to take her back, I bent over, kissed her and said, “Kiss that pretty girl right on the nose.” I would do this same ritual every time we got home from our daily walk.
A little later I received a telephone call from the Vet. She was still in the operating room under anesthesia. Basically, the X-Rays revealed a lot more going on – twelve teeth had to come out. I felt this was too much for this old dog to endure, coupled with her other health issues, so I authorized euthanasia.
With Ryla’s other health issues this past year, Beth and I promised her quality of life.
People who met Ryla would often exclaim, “Her eyes, they’re so expressive!” When she got me up on that morning I looked into her eyes. Wagging her tail and a nudging nose was her way saying, “Time to get up, it’s another good day.”
I didn’t know I’d be kissing Ryla, right on her nose, for the last time. So much to be grateful for.
We use koans with 12 & Zen, so it's apropos (upon hearing of Ryla's passing) that one of my teachers, David Weinstein, sent "...the dew drop world is the dew drop world, and yet...and yet..."
I responded, "And yet...and yet...today I feel incredible happiness, sadness, and gratefulness at the same time. A good day for sure."
Dogs are wonderful people.
See September 7 post.