Barking Blondes: RIP Rufus

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

rufus 1024x732 Barking Blondes: RIP RufusFor any of you reading this, familiar with Marylebone in central London, it is quite likely you will have seen Rufus.

A giant Pyrenean mountain dog, he resided outside the local fine art gallery, usually on his old leather sofa.

Almost the size of a Shetland pony, Rufus was adored by dog loving locals and drew amused glances from tourists and local passers by.

London cabbies would wave and call out to him and Michael his owner, who, would often be grooming him or cleaning his ears as the traffic flowed by.

Those of us who live in the area would see evidence of Michael’s labours as Rufus’s fur would blow all the way down the high street and wrap its way around the stilettos of fashionable ladies who shop.

He helped turn our part of London into a village and was a proud and adored focus point. Although callers to our radio show often spotted him on the London Underground ( where he was carried down the escalator as stipulated) or gliding through Regents Park, it was on his old leather sofa outside the shop, where he was most at home.

Rufus died in his sleep on Monday night and a light has gone out in Marylebone.

However, if anyone ever questions the relevance of a dog in an urban metropolis let us tell you how this week has played out.

Flowers from anonymous well wishers fill the art gallery window. Dog lovers who had previously never met, formed a constant stream of mourners along the street into the gallery.

The whole practical dilemma of what to do with Rufus following his death was solved by strangers coming together and helping Michael on what was clearly one of the most emotional days of his life. Shop keepers closed up  premises for  the time it took them to join in the celebration of Rufus’s life.

Rufus was only one of thousands of urban dogs that must live amongst communities and by so doing help social compatibility

They are something to pat, to smile at, to pause during the mayhem of a day and to reassess, if only for a minute.

As massive as Rufus was, not everybody saw him….and for those, we feel regret.

There will never be a replacement for Rufus’s stoic presence in Marylebone, but many believe that the only way to ease the pain of loss is to get another dog as soon as possible. This is what the famous Yorkshire Vet, James Herriott, says in his biography:

“It is always said that however many wonderful and happy years a dog lives, you know that one day, the day he dies, your dog will break your heart. I have always advised people to get a replacement as soon as possible after their dog has died: a new and endearing pup helps enormously to fill the gaping void one always experiences after a much-loved dog has gone.”

Dogs bring us happiness through their lives, that’s just what they do, and in their honour maybe Herriott is right? After all, no dog likes to see their owner sad.

Maybe it is only the unique unconditional love of a dog that can also mend a heart broken by a dog. Buddhists believe that the energy of life,  dissipates at the moment of death and is re-born. The hope for dog owners is our dog will never leave our side.

Barking Blondes by Jo Good & Anna Webb, published by Hamlyn, £12.99

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