Susanna J. Sturgis   Martha's Vineyard writer and editor
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Some people take up walking because they have a dog; I got a dog because I was already a hardcore walker. Friends volunteered their dogs as companions for my walks in the woods or on the beach. I became close companions with Tigger, whose images appear on this page, and with one of his littermates. When their mother, Nanu, a samoyed-border collie-greyhound mix, got pregnant again by their father, Bear, a magnificent malamute, I got in line for a puppy.

Nanu gave birth to eight healthy offspring on December 17, 1994; I was among the attendants. Being unemployed at the time, I made almost daily visits -- point-and-shoot camera in hand -- until the puppies went off to their new homes. I helped assign their litter names, nearly all from Star Wars. (The exceptions were two of the three girls; after Leia, Star Wars didn't offer many options in the girl's name department.) I cuddled and played with all of them, asking each one at irregular intervals, "Are you my puppy?" One afternoon, when the puppies were nearly three weeks old and I was hanging out in the puppy box, little Han Solo came toddle-trotting toward me with such determination that my heart opened and there was no more question about which one was my puppy.

But what to call him? At the time I was immersed in Katharine Kerr's wonderful Deverry novels, so I had several names from the series in mind. Early one evening nearly all the puppies were asleep in the puppy box. Not mine, however: he was sitting in the middle, surveying the snoozers with mischief in his eyes. He pounced. In an instant peaceful slumber turned to pandemonium and I knew I had a Rhodry on my hands. His namesake, Rhodry Maelwaedd, is handsome, smart, noble to a fault -- and given to berserker fits on certain occasions. Whether I named him true or he's just lived up to his name, Rhodry Malamutt was without question a Rhodry.

Rhodry was friendly, outgoing, and drop-dead gorgeous; he had friends all over the island, and it was a rare trip to town that we didn't encounter at least one old friend and make a new one. Rhodry had his own distinctive Malamutt take on things, which I did my best to channel in the bloggery.

Not long after his 13th birthday, at the dawn of the new year, Rhodry started favoring his left hind leg. We treated it as an injury, with rest and pain-killing anti-inflammatories, but it didn't respond. In late January, he stopped eating. We went back to the vet, whose X-rays identified the problem: a tumor at the base of the spine, probably prostate cancer. With my vet's concurrence, I chose to alleviate the symptoms -- the bum leg, some trouble passing poop -- as long as possible. His appetite came back, and Rhodry and I had another good month before a pathologic leg fracture strongly suggested that the cancer had metastasized to the bones of his leg. Rhodry passed peacefully around 10:15 the morning of February 26 and is buried at Malabar Farm, on a wooded hill overlooking Allie's paddock.

 

click on the images for a larger view and expanded description

Blue Rhodry
Blue Rhodry
Backsleeper
Backsleeper
Both Sides Now
Both Sides Now
Our Kitchen (by Rhodry)
Our Kitchen (by Rhodry)
Beach Picnic
Beach Picnic
Day Watchman
Day Watchman
Cat on a Cold Fence Post
Cat on a Cold Fence Post
Rhodry and Susanna
Rhodry and Susanna
Chasing Tail
Chasing Tail
Brothers
Brothers
Not for Sale
Not for Sale
Clerk of the Works
Clerk of the Works
Layin' around the stable, mama . . .
Layin' around the stable, mama . . .
My New Deck (by Rhodry)
My New Deck (by Rhodry)
Rhodry and Lakota
Rhodry and Lakota
Rhodry Horseherder
Rhodry Horseherder
Sunbathing Puppy
Sunbathing Puppy
Rhodry and Susanna
Rhodry and Susanna
Wolf Spirit
Wolf Spirit
Woof and Woofer
Woof and Woofer
Show Dog
Show Dog
Tigger at Big Sandy
Tigger at Big Sandy
Ready to Go
Ready to Go
The Claw of the Cat
The Claw of the Cat
I'm glad you're my puppy
I'm glad you're my puppy
Susanna's Bed (by Rhodry)
Susanna's Bed (by Rhodry)
Papa Bear
Papa Bear
Mama Nanu
Mama Nanu
Peek-a-boo
Peek-a-boo
Rhodry Cat-friend
Rhodry Cat-friend

 

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