If you’ve read any of my posts, you probably know about our “mini” dachshund, Ruben.

Ruben was our daughter Kalli’s dog, adopted when her big brother went to college, as a fitting replacement for her daily companion. Ruben, named after Ruben Studdard won on American Idol in 2003,  was supposed to be a registered, mini-dachshund.  He was expected to reach about 9-11 pounds, but quickly grew to be rather large  – finally weighing in at about 28 pounds.  It was always a source of entertainment to introduce him as a “mini.” When Kalli left for college and then to start her life with her husband, Ruben chose to stay with us.

Ruben was a character with conflicting traits: grumpy and sweet,  shy and loud, exasperating and lovable, stubborn and hysterical.  He was a discerning guest greeter — he either loved you and demanded attention by barking loudly at your feet, or he walked away as if to say “not worth my time.”  He loved to dig holes in my garden, so much so that several years ago we dedicated a whole section to him rather than have him randomly destroying bits at a time.  He was mean to our other dog Penny, but secretly loved her. She adored him but knew better than to try to snuggle with him or get between him and his food.

Ruben developed congestive heart failure about three years ago, and as time passed became the most high maintenance dog you may ever see.  My retired husband, Ken, spent most of his day administering medicine and taking care of his every need.  At the end, Ruben cried almost constantly.  Not because he was hungry or in pain, but because he was so frustrated that things weren’t the same as they used to be.  He couldn’t go on long walks, or dig for very long.  He needed help climbing the stairs and getting into the car.  And, we eventually knew it was time.

We spent his last weekend doing all of his favorite things – car rides, treats, a trip to his favorite dog store, visits with his favorite people, a dog chase, some window barking, and had one last dig in the garden.

Ruben was such a regular at the vet clinic that when we finally took him in, everyone there was in tears, including his doctor.  And, while it was very difficult, Ruben made it easier by willingly getting up on the vet table. He looked at us as if you say “will this make it all better this time?”

Ruben died peacefully in our arms and we were suddenly very much at peace.

Ruben was a dog like no other, and that’s the way it should be.  Good dog, Ruben. We miss you.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transform your life at work and at home, 52 Communication Tips, and Gladie’s Gift.  To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website.