My handsome Cavalier, Prince Rupert, met his destiny four years ago this morning at the SPCA. He had been failing for several months. Almost completely blind for about half a year, his hind quarters then gave way, and Rupert started to show signs of doggie dementia. Although very stoic, I'm afraid he was in a great deal of pain. He joined his sister and four other dogs along with Dennis in my Japanese home Buddhist shrine.
I first met Rose and Rupert the day after my Mother's memorial service fifteen years ago last March. After Mother died three days before her birthday, I returned to San Francisco. Then Dennis and I went back for her memorial service a few weeks later.
Before leaving, I leafed through the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club yearbook and pointed out to Dennis a black and white photo of a beautiful black and tan cavalier. "That's just the kind of black and tan I'd like to have." Her name was Polly. Then I noticed that the breeder lived in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, about eighteen miles from Harrisburg, my hometown. Dillsburg was where my Mother played golf at a public golf club. (Mother loved golf, but was always careful with her expenses.)
So after the big memorial service at Grace Church, when Chanticleer sang the Biebl Ave Maria as a prelude before the service, and before their flight from Middletown 45 minutes later (more about that in March) and the symbolic interment on the hillside cemetary in Woolrich (Mother had donated her body for research, so we initially buried only a lock of her hair ... and three golf balls) Dennis and I drove back from my Mother's family's Hunting Camp and visited Mary Louise Gregg at her home and kennel, Stellar Cavaliers, in Dillsburg.
Cynthia had already given Dennis India Pudding and I was looking for an assertive dog, who could stand up to her. My introduction to Rupert was observing him bite the tail of his sister Celine. I thought: "That's the little guy for me!" There was a Titanic movie theme to that litter. Rupert's real name is "Stellar Coeur de Leon." And Rose is "Stellar Coeur de la Mer" -- the name of the blue diamond in the movie. So of course, Celine was appropriate as well!
Eight weeks or so later my Prince Rupert (named for Prince Rupert of the Rhine, nephew of Charles I during the English Civil War, and commander of the Cavalier cavalry --- a somewhat fitting name for a Cavalier dog, I thought) flew cross country to Sacramento with a friend of Mary Louise's and the judge for a Sacramento dog show.
Debbie Cornue drove Dennis, me and India Pudding to meet him at the Sacramento airport. Dennis never let me forget that I caused us to drive twenty miles out of our way, because I wrongly assumed there would be clearly marked signs to the airport on the highway to the California State Capital.
Rupert acted as though he owned his sister at times. In a way he did. A few years after he arrived in San Francisco, Rupert went back to Dillsburg to become a daddy, and the fee for his services was his sister Rose!
My Christmas miracle three years ago was the survival of my precious Rose. The vet didn't discover the peach pit blockage for six days. Mary Louise Gregg tells me that most dogs with a similar blockage don't survive unless surgery is performed before the third day. Dear Rose had an amazing desire to live... and her wonderful appetite completely returned. I am still so grateful that she had another eleven good months to live. Because of that I've included an extra picture of Rose.
So now I have two dogs again, my delightful and mischievous Blenheim Cavalier Renzo, joined by his beautiful Blenheim mom, Bette, a year ago last December!