Ever since I was a little girl, I loved dogs. My dad had bought me some books with all the different breeds. My favorite was always the West Highland White Terrier. Over the years, perhaps because I was getting bigger, I started liking bigger dogs — Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and the like. Now, I could never actually have a dog, because my mom didn’t like them, so that was always a no go. And I have definitely written about how, when I ask Husband #1 if we could get a dog, his response is always, “When I die you can get a dog.” Really helpful.
I know for sure that Son #1 is not a dog person. Someone who used to live around the block from us had a lovely dog named Hooper. I even went to Hooper’s bark mitzvah. His owner was convinced he could get Son #1 to love dogs. This plan went terribly awry when Hooper spotted a bunny that was standing behind Son #1. He jumped up on his hind legs and scared the bejabbers out of Son #1 and that was the end of that. I think Sons#2 and 3 could go either way, but that is irrelevant here.
Strudel loves dogs. You might wonder how a 2-year-old can love dogs. Well, ever since she was a few months old, she was just head over heels over any pup that would walk by her stroller. She had no fear that they would lick her or come too close. She giggled with glee and loved it. So what does a good Babka do when her Strudel loves doggies? She makes playdates with doggies for her. Her doggie best friend became a yellow Lab that belonged to good friends of ours. Son #3 has been pals with this particular dog ever since he moved to Teaneck, because he is friends with the dog’s human “older brother.”
Before Strudel could crawl, we would sit her down next to her doggie friend on his bed and she would just smile and pat him. He loved the attention. As she started crawling and then walking, the interaction was just precious. She knew that when she had a playdate with him, she would feed him “cookies.” Somehow, she always knew that these cookies were not for her, so she was very free with giving them away. She also had a routine of bringing him his doggie toys. Especially the ones that would squeak.
I recently sent my friend the video of the first time Strudel came over with her new shoes. In the video, she was trying to figure out how to get the shoes on the dog’s feet. She would keep holding the shoes up to his face and then she finally just put them down next to his paws. It was really precious.
Last week, we went over for our playdate. Strudel gave her friend a whole bunch of cookies, and then my friend decided to take the playdate outside so the dog could get some fresh air and water. Strudel watched as his water bowl was filled — it’s amazing what fascinates a 2-year-old. Her friend drank a few sips and then he went to lie in the sun. She kept trying to get him to drink more water, but he wasn’t having any of it, so she just went to sit down and relax in the chair. Everyone was happy. It was another great doggie playdate.
The next morning, my friend texted me to tell me that Raizy’s doggie friend had passed away. This beautiful yellow Lab had been part of their family for a really long time, and it was a huge loss for them. I, trying to be funny, asked if perhaps all the cookies that Strudel gave him ended up killing him, but my friend told me that she was just happy that her “boy” had a really great last day on earth. Lots of treats, lying in the sun, people fawning over him. A really good last day.
I had a flashback to a few years ago, when there was a lot going on with my dad and I had called my friend to see if I could use her dog as a therapy dog and just come over and pet him. It really was therapeutic, and I was grateful for that.
Rest in peace dear friend. Strudel will be just one of the many special humans who will miss you.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck will keep asking Husband #1 for a dog just to annoy him, because why not…