Jeff Ruane

An Ode to Uzimiah

Uzi was my best friend, and I miss him very much. I thought it might help to remember some of his favorite things.

Snowballs

He loved to eat snowballs. They were his favorite treat. He’d jump up and grab them out of our hands, even though he was usually such a slow and gentle eater. It started snowing on our way to the vet the night he died. That was Uzi’s little snowstorm. The universe was calling for him.

Mornings

Morning time was his favorite time of day. He’d race back and forth between the front door and the back, not just because he had to pee, but because “IT’S A BRAND NEW DAY AND WE GET TO HANG OUT!” When he was done peeing, his first stop was always to see if my wife was awake yet. If she was, holy shit, it’s go time. He’d get so excited that he’d start grumbling and wagging his butt. We used to think he was telling us about his dreams. Then he’d smell my wife’s mouth and sneeze into it nine times out of ten. “Young Sneezy” was one of his many nicknames.

Our morning routine changed as he got older. He didn’t run as much, and he eventually fell out of the habit of telling us about his dreams. Most days, I’d have to wake him up. Otherwise, he’d sleep until noon and pee on the floor if nobody was immediately available to take him out. We didn’t mind, though. We would’ve kept cleaning his pee forever. We started giving him hip medicine every morning as his mobility worsened, and he loved that. Routines fade and are replaced by new ones. As Owls put it, “We fall into patterns so quickly.”

Cats

Uzi rarely got along with other dogs, but he never met a cat he didn’t like. He even liked my sister’s cat, Jay. Jay made a habit of stalking him around the room and eventually pouncing and slapping his behind. He never seemed to take it personally, though. He would just look over his shoulder and carry on. Uzi saw Jay a few hours before he passed. Jay lightly slapped his nose, but Uzi didn’t even move. He was so tired. Jay just left him alone after that.

His stuffed polar bear

A few years ago, we dog-sat while a friend was out of town. Bea was only a puppy, and she had so much energy. Uzi couldn’t keep up. She’d just tear through all his toys, playing with them until she got bored, then move on to the next one. At some point, she played with his polar bear toy. He sat a few feet away, watching her go apeshit on his toy and waiting for her to be done. When she dropped it and moved on, he gingerly picked it up, brought it to his bed in the corner of our bedroom, and sat on it. We didn’t realize he had a favorite toy, and we’re still not sure why that one, in particular, meant so much to him, but we never let Bea play with it again.

Uzi and his favorite toy

Me

He would look to me for comfort when stressed or scared. If my wife were having an argument with her father, he would beeline straight for me and lean against my legs. He didn’t like to play with me. He much preferred my wife for that. It just confused him when I tried to play like she did. He always knew he could nudge my leg and I’d drop what I was doing and rub his chest.

Sometimes he would be mad at me if I was gone for too long. When I got home after a 3-week long business trip, he was in the backseat when my wife picked me up from the airport. He looked at me with a fleeting look of excitement, then just put his head down. It took him a few hours to warm up to me again.

Other times, he would be relieved to see me if it had been a while. I didn’t see him for a month at one point last year, and he jumped up when he saw me and wouldn’t leave my side. Last year was difficult, though. He knew I didn’t leave him on purpose.

My Wife

My wife had Uzi for 15 years. She was 18 when she got him, and he’s been there for every life event since. From how she tells the story, it was love at first sight. He tried to act cool, but he was a mama’s boy at the end of the day. His favorite place to sleep was on her pillow, above her head.

Once, she was lazy rivering in the Colorado River with a friend while I was on the river bank with Uzi. We were just casually chatting, they weren’t more than 20 feet away, but Uzi decided she needed to be rescued. He was not a strong swimmer, but he was nothing if not brave. He tried to jump into the river, but I was able to stop him. My wife paddled over and got him into the tube with her, and he could finally relax. He was exactly where he was supposed to be.

Water rescue

She held him as he passed away and I gave him neck rubs. He wasn’t scared. He was exactly where he was supposed to be. Uzimiah Bartholomew, I’m so grateful to have spent so much time with you. You’ll always be in our hearts.

Right next to us, forever