This is the love story as told to me by Cindy Mendola, mama of Rigby, aka Riggy the Yorkie from the state of Delaware.
Tell me about the first time you met Rigby, when and where was it?
My younger daughter moved to New York City in January 2006 to get her master’s at NYU, and in July said she was going to look at Yorkie puppies for her birthday. I cautioned her, “Don’t you dare, Miss Impulsive! You know if you look, you’ll get one, and you don’t have time for a dog between working and going to school.” Next thing, A couple of hours later, my daughter sends me a picture of her & her new puppy on the subway! A week later, she awoke to the sound of water. “What?” Her basement apartment had flooded from a big tropical storm, and Rigby was having fun splashing around in the couple inches of water! I drove up to help salvage her things, and actually, because of the huge task at hand, I don’t really remember other than that he was a cute, tiny puppy, that was just another element to be managed. We drove a packed truck including Rigby home to Delaware wondering how Daizy, our 10-year-old Bichon is going to react to this energetic lil fluffball. Turns out, just fine; she’d jump up on the furniture to get away from his shenanigans! He couldn’t stay in the apartment while it was being fixed, so my daughter asked if he could stay in Delaware for a week or so. “Okay,” I agreed. She returned to the city, and I found myself potty training and taking care of a three-month-old puppy. After talking to my daughter’s apartment manager, we found out that there were extensive repairs to be done and my daughter couldn’t even stay there. I was asked,” Could the puppy stay longer with me, or I should just return him?” Again, ok, he can stay with me but don’t make me fall in love with him if he isn’t going to be a member of our family. As the repairs dragged on, she said I was right, and she wouldn’t have time for a dog, “Did I want a free doggy?“ (This became a running joke thru thousands of dollars in medical expenses later in life, that he was the most expensive free dog ever!). My answer was, “YES! I LOVE him! It is so much fun having a puppy around.” And that was that; the beginning of the love story of the serendipitous tiny doggy that I didn’t know I wanted, or would need so much, who would “save" me with his antics and cuddles when Daizy died and would fill my life with more pure love than I ever imagined exists.
Thinking back, how would you describe Rigby’s personality as a puppy? And as an adult?
As a puppy, Rigby was a typical mischievous little guy. His fav ‘toy" was a bra! If there was one in a pile of laundry, he would find it and run, tangling, and tripping in it, and chewing on it, and even fall asleep with it. Maybe because of my smell on them?
As an adult, Riggy was CRAZY. QUIRKY. BARKY! Typical ‘little dog syndrome;” not afraid of anything. (except for a thrown toy, no fetch for him). He was the fierce protector of the house. No one or nothing could come into view without him sounding an alarm. He LOVED being outside; the Mighty Hunter was always exploring and “hunting" in the bushes in the fenced yard, sometimes catching things (even SNAKES- YUK!); his fav pastime was froggy hunting in the lil fish pond. But MOST OF ALL, he was OBSESSED with me. No one could touch me without him getting in between us; she is MINE!
And now how would Rigby describe your personality?
My Momma was the best person in the world for ME; so loving, so understanding of my personality quirks, and supportive of my needs. I loved to bark, and it was okay with her. I needed to be right next to her and she always made room, even if one of the little girls was on her lap. She took such good care of me when I was sick before and did her best so that I wasn’t scared. She always talked to me like I was a person, all day long. She was the source of my Joy!
What did you learn from Rigby?
Riggy taught me that I could be happy with “just the two of us.” Also, it doesn’t hurt to check EVERY TIME for something new to see outside. While I’ve always enjoyed wildlife, he would always let me know if there was a deer, squirrel, fox, leaf, rain, etc. ”Mommy, come see!” So now when I watch things, I think of him and how he would’ve been barking, and especially how much he would’ve LOVED the fox family this year (and I feel that he sent them to entertain us during the long months of shutdown). Also, I’ve spent more time watching the hummingbirds at the beach house this year, than all years previously put together, and thinking of how he would’ve been out on the deck with me watching for anything that moved.
What are the top three things you always want to remember about your love?
1. His sheer exuberance when I came home; bounce, bounce, bounce; pick me up! If I was gone overnight or longer to be with our girls, upon my return, he would somehow launch his tiny 6lb body four feet into the air, trusting that I would catch him, and cover me with kisses.
2. His kisses. He had the longest tongue, and it was impossible to evade a kiss. Even when he was upset at the vet’s or groomer's, he’d instantly give them a kiss. At our vet’s annual Memorial Candle Lighting Ceremony last December, the groomer said she’d always remember his kisses. That is also my last interaction with him; I asked for a kissie, not knowing if he could hear me or be able to do it, and he turned his head and gave me so many kissies…that feeling, and memory has sustained me to this day.
3. The LOVE! Just that; he LOVED ME beyond what anyone ever has or will again. I was his, and he was mine. It was usually just the two of us, and his companionship in the day to day, the ordinary rhythm of our life was extraordinary.
When did Rigby earn his wings?
August 30, 2019
When did you join Paws?
I had no idea until I looked it up and had assumed it was last fall. It was January 2016, which I guess was because he’d had cancer “diagnosis,” (undiagnosed, re-diagnosed, maybe not cancer after all, and released from Oncology care a year and a half later), and was looking for some insight to handle the future grief.
Do you remember how you found Paws?
No, probably just a search on Facebook.
What has or is helping you get to the other side of grief? What advice would you share with someone who recently started grieving?
In the beginning, the understanding and support of my family because they know how deeply felt my emotions are; and even now with all of my continuing coping quirks. From the moment I got his urn, I’ve felt re-connected; I talk to “him", sleep with him, still traveled with his urn.
Embrace the grief; I am not a stoic person; my grief and tears flow freely still. Need to cry? Cry! I’ve done and bought so many things to memorialize him; it’s helped to have these mere things around. I’ve made a doggy Christmas tree that I’ve kept up all year this first year.
Also, this and the other Facebook grief groups I belong to where I’ve posted almost weekly tributes or how I’m feeling, have helped me verbalize my feelings, and to just get a hug emoji or comment on a bad day has helped immensely.
Where are you now in your grief?
I am still somewhat stuck on my grief journey. Just when I’d found an in-person grief group, and also decided I needed professional counseling, COVID struck, and I kept waiting to be able to do in-person sessions. I should’ve done virtual counseling. Add to that the lack of the usual amount of distraction provided by my 4 granddaughters, it’s definitely harder.
I still can’t really think about our time together without getting upset and crying; I don’t want to forget anything, but on the other hand, it still hurts too much to remember too.
Also, I’ve started to think about getting another dog, but as I’m very limited because I’ll only do tiny hypoallergenic ones, and due to high demand because of COVID, I haven’t had any success with that yet.
Using your spiritual and intuitive mind, if I could get a message to Rigby from you, what would you want to say? What would you want to let Rigby know?
I would want to tell Rigby- THANK YOU! Thank you for enriching my life beyond measure; for being MY BOY; for making me YOUR person; for filling my life with joy, for filling the quiet with your barks, for filling the emptiness that I didn’t know would be so vast without you. Thank you for being my bug catcher, my cuddle bug, and for being so good in the car on all of our trips to the beach house. Thank you for those best, last kissies. Most of all, thank you for loving ME, I loved You the most and you are in my heart FOREVER! And please don’t be spending all of your time, standing at the gate, waiting for me to arrive. I’ll be there someday, but I’m not ready yet; so go play, have fun, explore…we’ll be together when it’s my time, and you can lead me in.
And if I could get a message from you to Rigby what would you like to know?
He and Daizy are together. They are happy and healthy, and they remember all of us and our wonderful lives together. He still loves me and knows that I did what was best for him.. I want him to tell me that he is happy and that he does hear me say goodnight and feel me kiss him. He does see me searching the night sky for a star to talk to him. I’d want him to tell me that, “Yes mama, there IS a Rainbow Bridge, and we will be together when it’s your time!
Is there anything else you would like to share with your Paws Pack about Rigby?
Rigby, my Riggy, my Rig Rig, my Wiggy Woo, was my “Once-in-a-lifetime doggy, my soulmate, my love. I will love and miss him forever and always. At 15 months, I still can’t quite believe he’s gone from my life. I hope to someday be reunited with my GOOD BOY; to see him come running full speed towards me, and once again launch himself into my arms (maybe his lil wings will make it easier), and once again cover my face with his loving kissies; this will be OUR reward at the end of the rainbow.