I have dried my tears in his hairy neck, warmed my toes with his golden retriever fur, dug my fingers and found a huge tumor between his forelegs.
He has pooped in my bedroom, eaten through my favorite goat skin wallet, and regularly steals tissue from tissue boxes all around the house.
We have been through a lot, Rimsky and I.
He was two months old when I bought him from the petshop. I was a 23 years old who had just moved back to Bandung after 6,5 years of studying in the States. It was a huge transition : I went from living independently to being under my parents’ roof, I had a master’s degree but no friends, and the worst of it all I was dating a white boy who had not finished his graduate program. Long distance relationship? Been there done that. It was a promising relationship which ended catastrophocally a year later.
When we broke up, I was devastated. There was one particular day when I literally couldn’t get up from bed. My neck had spasms due to the intense emotional stress. I drowned my sorrows away by hugging Rimsky often. He faithfully licked my tears dry. Who cares about him? Just play with me, the retriever seemed to be saying.
When he was 3 years old, I started a professional piano trio group called Cascade Trio. We performed concerts and gave workshops all around Indonesia. Needless to say, I was never at home. And when I was, I had to practice piano for long hours. This was traumatizing for Rimsky. He was left alone days at a time, starved of the attention goldens so needed.
On the rare moments I could play with him, he got out of control because he was too excited. Being a large boisterous golden retriever with tons of energy, he could jump and easily knock me over. Retrievers also love to retrieve, so he would bite my hand asking me to throw something for him to fetch. I became scared to play with him as I was afraid my hands would get hurt. The gulf between us grew further apart, and Rimsky’s behavior became uncontrollable. I realized I was to blame. He was there when I was lonely, but I neglected him when my career started to take off. Out of selfish reasons, I didn’t want to give him away to others who could have taken better care of him. Poor, poor Rimsky.
When he was 5 years old, I met Oky (my first husband) for the first time. The months when we were getting to know each other, Oky would play with Rimsky, taking him out on walks. Walks! OH THE JOY!!! Rimsky was saved from almost going crazy. Having someone routinely give him the care he needed, Rimsky became much calmer in attitude.
I moved into Gupondoro (Oky’s house) after we got married. Rimsky came also. He flourished there. Routine walks and hikes on hills, almost constant attention from the architect. I was still busy travelling with work and concert schedules, so all the credit really went to Oky. Funny though, there was one spot between Rimsky’s forelegs which Oky rarely scratched. This was where I found the tumor, already the size of a tennis ball. My golden retriever needed an operation as soon as possible.
(To be continued)