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Racing in the Rain



Sydney hated the rain. She loved the puddles and the mud, but she hated the rain. She was a funny, energetic dog. Those who met her knew she was a boxer through and through. She never met a stranger that didn’t become an instant friend, and she hated being where people weren’t.

Thirteen years ago, Sydney was an early birthday gift to me. My wife abducted drove me to some obscure part of southern Indiana under the guise of picking up some equipment for her father. She said she needed my muscles. My ego led me to join her, but little did I know the journey was for me.

When we arrived at our destination, a lone boxer walked up to us. My face lit up like a kid. Distracted by the dog, I forgot to inquire about the piece of equipment that we had journeyed to procure. My wife walked up behind me, led me to a litter of boxer pups and said “Happy Birthday. Pick one.”

It was the coolest birthday present ever.

“The first time I saw you,’ he says, ‘I knew we belonged together.”
― Garth SteinThe Art of Racing in the Rain

I didn’t choose the largest or the smallest. Instead, I looked for the one with the best personality. And there was one that looked like a klutz (don’t all puppies?), but she came right up to me. I selected her and we drove her home.

I decided to name her Sydney, and this part might be embarrassing, after Sydney Bristow – Jennifer Garner’s character on Alias. Sydney (the dog) was cute, cuddly, stubborn, and faithful. She would follow you anywhere. Did I mention she hated being alone?

They say that humans and their pets share common characteristics. Sometimes, they even bare a slight resemblance. Well, over the years despite our hairs turning gray, we both had a flair of youth, a streak of immaturity, a propensity to refuse to grow up. She was the canine Peter Pan. Both of us would get lost searching for our shadows, yet silently enjoying the company of the other.

She was beloved by my wife and children. Sydney was truly the finest companion. The most difficult thing was explaining to the children that she was sick. We watched as she started to slow down. You could tell that her heart was willing as the nub of her tail twitched to reveal the excitement she had, but her body was failing. She went from a slight limp to a full on hobble.

“People, if you pay attention to them, change the direction of one another’s conversations constantly. It’s like having a passenger in your car who suddenly grabs the steering wheel and turns you down a side street.”
― Garth SteinThe Art of Racing in the Rain

I started this post a year ago. I wasn’t able to finish it. Dogs are funny creatures. They call them “man’s best friend” and that may, at times, be an understatement. They can sense when you are happy, sad, or worried. They lick, wag, and sometimes just sit. They listen and never interrupt.

I remember reading the novel The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. It’s an odd book because it is narrated by a dog. You find yourself wondering if that is how your dog thinks and praying that your dog bonds with you in the same manner. It’s not an easy read, for a multitude of reasons, but it is a worthy read (just make sure to have tissues with you).

Sydney was my Enzo. She has been gone for over a year and I still miss her. She was stubborn, she got into the trash, she chased the cats, and hated our new dog. But she loved my kids, my wife, and me. And despite the commotion and barking, it was the moments late at night where she would curl up at my feet or next to me on the couch during the day – it was those moments that I now realize she was there for me more than I was for her.

There was a comfort in her snoring. A joyfulness in her wagging. A trust that was present in her eyes. A faithfulness when she followed you from room to room to room. Maybe it wasn’t so much that she hated being alone, but she knew I loathed it.

“To live every day as if it had been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. To feel the joy of life, as Eve felt the joy of life. To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish that we all encounter every day. To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am. I am. That is something to aspire to.”
― Garth SteinThe Art of Racing in the Rain

Sydney was a simple dog, but it was the joy of life that she exemplified. That is the thing I miss the most about her. Funny what you can learn from a dog. Sydney was wonderful, and her company made me feel alive and wonderful too. Even in the rain that she hated.

Thank you, Sydney. Run free.

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2 thoughts on “Racing in the Rain”

  1. Lee “The Greek” Megois says:

    Ok, read this while listening to “Make it rain” by Ed Shareen ….I double dog dare ya!

  2. Sally Pickering says:

    I remember when you got Sydney. It was so fun to watch your face light up with joy when you talked about her. I wish I could say that the tears will eventually stop welling up in your eyes when you talk about her, but they won’t. No dog could ever replace her but your love is still there and other dogs need that love.

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