Roux is gone. The long legs and strong body that carried him for so long finally just quit. His mind was still sharp, his appetite never wavered. But, the Roux that we knew - that he knew - was not here anymore. He was clearly frustrated, saddened and humiliated by, what had become, such useless appendages. In the end, with the compassionate help of vet Dr. Jay Taylor, and with Junie and me, and Emily and Tyler to keep him company, he passed away quietly as the sun set on a cold, grey Outer Banks February day. He had elected to be out on the screen porch overlooking the canal that he had spent countless hours jumping into, swimming around and repeating until exhaustion or the 'shower bell' ended his fun for the day.
He leaves a gaping hole in our lives. At the same time, he has been so intertwined with our lives that all of the threads will never be unraveled. We spoiled him. Everybody knew it. Eleven years ago, when he picked us out, we signed up to take care of him for the rest of his life. We had just lost our beautiful yellow Lab, Ginny. She never got the benefit of spoiling. We always said that Ginny was raised like a child - with rules, consequences, tough love - how incredibly stupid. If ever we got another dog, we said, it will be a grandchild - all cookies, and 'That's OK I didn't like that knick-knack', and 'Hold on, I have to take care of my dog'. That was Roux's life.
As a water dog, he pretty much had it made. He swam in the ocean, dived into the canal, went fishing in the Atlantic, sailed the high seas and cruised the beaches of the Bahamas. Prophetically, at our last stop on our trip in the Bahamas, on the last evening walk, he plopped himself down to look out at the water. He looked at me, I thought at the time, somewhat imploringly to just chill for a while. I am glad we did.
He has defined us for along time. In our neighborhood back in Virginia, strangers would know we were Roux's parents. Our SeaClearly boat card lists the crew as 'Duane and June Ruby and Roux'. Our neighbors here in Colington have been entertained for hours by 'that dog that swims off the dock all the time'. We are not sure who we will be without him. Just another retired couple on a sailboat, I guess.
Ultimately, that big body was part of Roux's undoing. A vet in Florida declared him to be about one hundred years old in Lab years because he was so big. It got pretty hard to move him around in the last days but, as I said repeatedly, I helped him all the way to the Bahamas and back so I could carry him a little further.
But, also eleven years ago, we made a commitment to ourselves, and to Roux, that when the time came, we would make that hard decision to let him go peacefully. No fear, no pain. That time came on Monday, February 10, 2014. And it was a very hard decision.