Rua Thompson, my family’s dog, died this past Monday (July 25) after 11 years of barking, begging, crying and sometimes, when he was keen, cuddling. Born in south Oshawa, we picked the “red”, which his names translates to in Gaelic, poodle up when he was just a pup to help fill the gap left by our old dog Rouri, also a poodle albeit a black one. To say that he filled a void would be an understatement and it is only now, after losing him, do we realize he did so much more.
Rua, sometimes referred to as Ruby, Ru, Voula or ‘the bollox’ and ‘ya bastard’, was probably the most stuck up, son-bitch of a dog, however it was those traits that made him like no other. He wouldn’t always listen or come if you called, unless of course a fido snack (the good kind) or a piece of cheese was clearly visible, but he had his moments where we simply couldn’t resist staying angry at him. I can easily recall the times he took a bite out of my pizza if I left it sitting or the infamous moment he stole a piece of chicken from the dinner table in front of the old man. One would have to argue the time he snuck upstairs, where he was never allowed to go unless Frank was away on business, and sat on my parents bed only for my dad to walk in the room and hardly notice him to be more infamous. The thoughts going through his mind at the time keep us in stitches to this day.
Taking him for a walk essentially revealed Rua’s true colours. He disliked other dogs, bikers, skateboarders, rollerbladers, and it could be said he was a bit of a racist, although whether you were black, white or purple, he probably wouldn’t like you anyway. What he did like, however, was his family and up until the last few moments of his life, all he wanted to do was go home and spend time with his family…and if he had time, charge the door when the doorbell rang, pick a fight with the biggest dog he saw or growl at the kids from across the street.
We all have our own separate memories of Rua and I believe those will be the ones that last the longest or make us laugh the most. If you were alone with him in the house he would be your constant companion, never leaving your side and only asking to be taken for a quick jaunt around the block and a nibble of whatever you were eating, even if it was a tasteless biscuit. Visitors to the house can recollect that crazy dog who never stopped barking, but in the end, they weren’t his family, the only ones he really cared for (with the exception of back scratchers).
American politician George Graham Vest once made the claim that a dog is a man’s best friend in his speech defending a client who’s dog was shot by a neighbour. While Rua never took to the whole training bit, shaking a paw and rolling over was something embedded in his brain since birth to never do, for us he was not just part of the family, rather a friend, a companion, an overall shit-disturber, and we loved him dearly for being so.
Whether it was because of the shoddy breeder we got him from or the lack of discipline on our part to train him properly, Rua was a rebel at heart who made his own rules and followed through on them. His death has saddened the family and his presence will be missed, although his attitude and spirit will live on for us to remember that not everything in life has to be well-trained or ‘by the book’ to be right or joyful. We don’t necessarily have to bark, winge or push things over whenever we don’t get something, much like Rua did, yet it’s a reminder to never accept what you don’t agree with and if you want to change it badly enough, go do it…Although biting someone would probably work just as well.
Rua Thompson, 2000 – 2011