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October 27, 2016Uncategorized

On Losing My Dog and Finding My Way

My blog is my story. When I lost Eko, the black ink of my anguish blotted out the most painful chapter. Each of you was kind enough to give me the time, space and support I needed, never asking I share what was written on those stained pages. Yet they are the most important pages, so I must go back and rewrite them – for myself and for the dog who changed my story forever. I steady my hand, carefully dip my pen into that sorrowful ink, and share these words about the day Eko died.



I dream I search the world for my dog. I shout for Eko from the top of each mountain. I dive to the darkest depths of the sea. I cannot find him.

Enraged, I storm the doors of hell and tear down the gates of heaven. I lay waste to any man, beast, angel or demon who dares bar my path. I battle and bleed until I cannot walk. So I crawl. Until, at last, I confront the creator herself. What God this may be is of no import. She holds Eko by her side, surveying my ragged form and the destruction in my wake.

“You do all this for your dog?” she asks.

“You misunderstand,” I reply. “This is the least I would do for my dog.”

“But he is in a better place.”

I laugh at the thought and call to Eko. He bounds over to my crippled body and licks the blood and tears from my face. God trembles. For who would ever choose a broken boy over divine perfection? My dog, that’s who. For us, there is no better place than by each other’s side.

“Take your dog and go,” she commands. “You may never return.”

We are cast from heaven, blissful. I carry in my arms all the salvation I will ever need.

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

I wake to the crack of thunder. Jaw clenched, muscles rigid, tears soaking the pillow. My puppy is dead. This is the real nightmare. I relive our final day together for the thousandth time:

“Good morning, baby dogs!” I say through a yawn. On cue, Eko and Penny pounce to life and shower me with kisses to speed my rise from bed. We go for a walk, the pups eat breakfast, and they cuddle together on the couch while I write. Later, I head to the gym under an ominous gray sky and think that it’s perfect weather for a day at the beach.

Most people want beach days with blue skies, bright sun and warm breezes. But I’ve found both the beach and my dogs come alive in the hours before a storm. I load the pups into the car and we drive to the deserted shore of Lake Michigan. A city of nearly three million people teems behind us, but on this side of the dune the world is ours.

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

The wind whips, the waves crash, and we whip and crash along the shore in time with the music of the earth. We wrestle and play and laugh. Not even the fears and troubles which chase me each day can catch us here. Here it is only a boy, his dogs, and love.

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

We pause to watch a kite surfer wade into the water. He stands on his board and rides the current swiftly past our revelry. Penny gives chase. Only she possesses the audacity to believe she can catch the wind. Eko stands at the ready by my side. Guarding me, but with a watchful eye on Penny. Only he possesses the strength to protect us both.

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

The kite surfer, seeing he would soon be caught, quickly accelerates downwind. Penny runs back to us with an impish grin and I laugh as we turn for home. Eko soars over the fence and we hop in the car. Dirty, exhausted and thoroughly content.

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

Back home, Eko and Penny curl up again while I send a few emails before leaving for the airport. Just like the weekend before, Emily and I have a wedding to attend. I feed the pups dinner and I shut our closet doors, checking for stray socks, shoes and other chewing temptations. Both dogs are well past the age of getting into trouble, but I am overly cautious.

An hour later we go for one last walk. I tuck Eko and Penny back into their favorite spots on the couch then give them each a treat and a kiss. As I always do before leaving the apartment, whether for a minute or for the rare weekend away, I make the pups one last promise – “I’ll be right back.”

That was the last time I saw Eko.

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

My phone vibrates incessantly the moment we touch down in Charleston, South Carolina. Through her sobs my mom is only just barely able to tell me that Eko is dead. It’s difficult to articulate my feelings in that exact moment. The closest I can come is to say I felt like a ghost who believed himself a person, but just discovered he is in fact dead. While my body landed safely, my soul died in a fiery crash.

I collapse in a chair just past the jetway, crying with Emily. It takes four tries to steady my hands enough to call my brother. Just as he had the week prior, James arrived to my apartment a few hours after I left. Except this time he found Eko on the ground, barely breathing. My poor brother, who only two years ago held his own dying dog, now had to hold mine – knowing that as Eko died, so too did his little brother.

James heroically carried my dog and my heart to the emergency vet, but both were gone before he made it through the door. Here are the meaningless answers: They do not know why Eko died. It was not bloat. It could have been a brain aneurysm, it could have been an acute cardiac issue, it could have been massive organ failure due to an undetected cancer.

The only meaningful certainty, both that night and now, is Eko is gone.

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

I, the ghostly remains of my dog, haunt the streets of Charleston. There are no flights to Chicago until morning. I cry and choke on my tears as Emily props me up. I am lost, I am scared and I want to run home. Both the feeling and the place are familiar. The pain tears open a memory from four years ago, right here in Charleston, when the only certainty I could hold onto in this world was my dog.

It was the end of the initial three-month trial of the crazy idea to live with Eko on the road for a year. I was exhausted and I wondered how the hell I was going to survive another nine months. I wanted to run for the comfort of home.

To contemplate my future, I rented a kayak and paddled into the Atlantic with Eko standing up front like George Washington crossing the Delaware. People on shore took photos and waved as we passed by. I settled into my seat and weighed my options. I could go home or…

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

Eko left me no time to finish the thought as he dove off the bow of our ship. He’d spotted a large group of seagulls lounging on a small island offshore. I knew his intention, but despite my furious paddling Eko made it to land first. He bounded into the heart of the flock and sent the birds exploding skyward. I could hear the laughs and shouts of the people on shore as I chased Eko around the tiny beach.

Somewhere in the space between footsteps the chase turned into a game of tag. Instead of running at Eko, I decided to run with him. We raced across the sand until we were both happily panting from the exertion. The birds Eko sent into the wind seemed to carry my troubles with them.

I pushed us back out to sea with a laugh and I knew right then we’d carry on. I was still scared and I was still lost, but I had Eko. A boy and a dog are safe at home, but that is not what boys and dogs are made for. We are all here to dive into unknown waters, chase off our fears and delight in the adventure of the experience. It takes courage, but luckily our dogs are happy to lend us theirs when our own falters.

Now, four years later, I’m ready to run home again. But is it even home anymore without Eko? This is my worst fear. The one where everything you love is cruelly and suddenly ripped from you without warning. How am I supposed to face this without Eko to steady me?

I rise from bed at dawn and take off down the street at full speed. I run until I the agony in my muscles matches the agony in my heart. I run until my lungs gasp for air the same way my soul does. I find an old semi-truck tire in a field and flip it over and over until my body is as broken as my spirit.

Sitting in the field, I weakly reach for my phone to tell James I cannot come home. I do not know what to do, but I know I cannot hide. I tell him I need him to hold Penny for me, and he says he already called out of work to do just that. He understands I cannot honor the dog who taught me to be brave by choosing to run away.

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

We stay in Charleston for the weekend. It is interminable. It is excruciating. It is necessary. This is Eko’s last test. It was easy to spread joy and love when he was by my side and life was wonderful. But do I have the courage to do it when my heart is tarred black? I sit crying on the waterfront where I once sat with Eko and I think about my parents.

Shortly after my younger brother was born he suffered a SIDS episode and had to be rushed to the hospital. Nate survived, but he was transferred to the NICU where his life hung precariously in the balance. While Nate was in the hospital I remember my mom coming home to read me a book and then crying in the middle of it. I remember visiting Nate with my dad and seeing the tracks of tears on his face. While his infant son could die at any moment on one side of the glass, my father made his other son feel safe, loved and less afraid by doing silly voices.

“So that is the true measure of a person,” I think. “When blinded by grief, can you remember what love looks like? Even if you can’t see it yourself, can you find a way to still put love into the world?”

My mother did it. My father did it. I do my best. I cry with Emily and then make our friends laugh when we go out for lunch. I sob alone in the bathroom then wipe my eyes and exit with a smile for my wife. But I fail at this juggling act. I endeavor to drink my grief away and end up wailing in the street while Emily holds me.

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

The hopeless dam I attempted to build in Charleston collapses the moment I’m home. I don’t know if there’s a heaven but I’m quite certain there’s a hell. There’s no fire or brimstone, just the unbearable torture of opening your front door knowing your dog is not on the other side.

I lay on Eko’s bed and weep. He was supposed to grow old and gray. He was supposed to lay with my children on the couch and keep them warm and safe. He was healthy, he was fit, and I brushed his goddamn teeth to perfection because I needed him to stay with me for a long, long time.

Our story was only halfway done. How could it end like this?

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

I wander a post-apocalyptic wasteland of my soul. I look at the crumbled ruins and struggle to remember the skyscrapers of joy and laughter and delight which once seemed indestructible. I starve for Eko’s love and nothing in this broken world can satiate that hunger, so I wither.

The outpouring of sympathy we receive after sharing news of Eko’s death astounds me. Thousands of people from around the globe take time from their lives to honor my dog. My friends and family support me when I cannot stand on my own. The flood of my tears is matched by a flood of empathetic emails, letters, comments and calls. I hope one day to have the ability to properly express my gratitude for everything each one of you has done for me.

8-Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

But I must first confess an ugly truth. In this moment I wish I could build a bonfire with every word I have ever written, every blog I have ever posted and every photo I have ever shared. I wish I could use every kindness ever said to me about Eko as kindling. I wish I could tear flesh from my bones, strip years from my life, sacrifice them to the flames and burn it all down for one more chance to hold my puppy.

I am so angry and bitter and depressed that I scare my wife. She tries to pierce my sorrow with tenderness, but of what use is tenderness to one who has lost his heart? My pain and sorrow swirl until I am a tempest of grief. My winds of anguish blow aside all the love and support in my path. Emily and Penny, alone in the eye of the storm, watch as my rage pushes the world away.

Emily stands unwavering against the gale, holding me in her arms. She makes no promises and offers no answers. She simply whispers the three most important words she’s ever said to me.

“You’re my Eko.”

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

The storm breaks. One final swell of emotion crashes over me as I remember everything Eko was, is, and will be for me. A well drilled into my soul from which I draw forth courage, inspiration and a limitless supply of love. Worse than losing Eko would be to also lose everything he taught me. I must pick myself up and practice that seemingly impossible juggling act of grief and love. I will fail. But I will begin again and again until I get it right. I must honor my dog by living his legacy. I must do for this world what he did for my world.

I must build a funeral pyre of all I’ve done and all I’ve learned – not to burn it down, but to spark a signal fire that stretches to the stars. A beacon which reaches to the furthest corners of the earth and shouts, “Do not be afraid of the darkness! Come see how the love of a dog can light the world!”

I will build this fire.

The next morning we visit the beach with Penny before sunrise. It’s cloudy and dark, but there is just enough light to see by.

Rhodesian Ridgeback. losing a dog

Comments for On Losing My Dog and Finding My Way

  1. NM says:

    !!! GULP !!!!

  2. Chosen foreginer says:

    I cried through the entire post. Heartbreakingly beautiful. Sending you lots of love and light.

  3. Chosen foreginer says:

    Cried throughout the whole post. Love and light to you.

  4. Jesse says:

    Powerful words! This is Love in the truest form. Again deeply sorry for your loss.

  5. Nicola says:

    My heart is so heavy and eyes are full of tears for your loss. To write the beautiful words you have written must of taken such courage. What a cruel place this world can be. We have a black Labrador and two RR’s. I have watched many of your u tube videos and loved them . I cannot offer words of wisdom. Thinking of you all xxx

  6. Pat says:

    Thank you. More tears.

  7. Michelle says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I found your blog 4 years ago after I lost my own Ridgeback and needed a Ridgeback antics fix. Eko was a beautiful, wonderful dog and while the pain of losing him will never truly go away, you have a fabulous record of his time in your life.

  8. wakefll says:

    You are an amazing writer, I can feel your anguish and despair, I think any of us that chooses to love a dog feels this pain when they leave us……it is hard to give your heart to a dog to tear, yet what comes before makes it some how worth it. You honor Eko’s memory by choosing to make it to the other side…..

  9. Nicole Ferguson says:

    It lifts my heart that you aren’t letting Eko’s death destroy you and you are still conscious of all the good he brought to your life. I’m so heartbroken that he is gone before his time, I can only imagine your pain. I hope you continue to struggle forward and that the pain lessens. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  10. fran welch says:

    My heart just broke again. I did not know u were not there, but does not make the hurt any less. Bless ur heart, so much pain n i m at a loss of words of wisdom. Eko was a beautiful dog n thank God u have Penny n Emily to help u thru this terrible time. Love u all because i love my dogs, they r my world n nothing i would not do for them. Thank u for sharing, i wanted to know but knew u would share in ur time.

  11. Fozziemum says:

    I said on instagram i could not yet read this…i lied..i had to.
    I feel every word you write and i know that for me hate became griefs ugly accompaniment..even at a ‘good’ age the anger i felt was consuming. But like Eko that was not a quality my pup had..he was a goofball ..it lessens..it does..no timeline it just does..the anger that is..the rest bubbles away..rising at times and receding back..i send my virtual hugs..from one mourning pet parent to another..different countries dogs and circumstances but the same grief nonetheless xx

  12. Victoria Coleman says:

    that was a 6 kleenex story this morning – full of sadness and promise – thank goodness for your wife, brother, mom, dad and penny!! And of course most of all for Eko!

  13. Midge Mercer says:

    You are blessed by Emily. Everyone wants to be someone’s Eko

  14. Elyse says:

    What a wise and wonderful wife you have: “You are my Eko.”

    And I found myself smiling through my own tears at this writing, because Ek was aptly named. I think his love, his lessons, and his spirit will Eko throughout your life.

  15. harrispen says:

    You are such a gifted writer. We can all feel your pain but are hopeful for the promise of tomorrow. This too was written through tear filled eyes.


  16. KarenS says:

    Today I go into work late, appointments made and things to be taken care of. As I sit at the breakfast bar with tears welling up, I am glad I’m not at the office trying hard not to let people see me, reading these gut wrenching yet beautiful words.

    When I found your blog years ago, I was amazed by your writing, and am even more amazed now. You put into words everything we feel when we lose a member of our family. You are writing about life, the joys and the pain. And I thank you for that.

    Now, I need to give my 2 boys an extra kiss on the forehead.

  17. Emmadog says:

    Well, my mom is now having a wet morning at her desk. How awful to be so far from home and not to be there when it happened. My mom would have gone crazy herself not being able to get home. It is so very sad, there is nothing anyone can say or do to help you out. Time and memories are the only cure but they take a lot of time.

  18. Deena Sadek says:

    Thank you for sharing such a very personal story. Your emotions lay bear for all of us to see, which is what our dogs do everyday. Eko is in your heart and will always be with you. Continue to honor him as you have done for the last 5 years and in time the love in your heart for Eko will again light your life. We all love and miss Eko; thank you for sharing with all of us the life of a boy and his dog. Wonderful stories they have been, and more wonderful stories to come.

  19. Sharon Benson says:

    Beautifully written. I cried so much reading this. Eko will always be with you. With my sympathy to you, Emily & Penny. It ‘s amazing how much a dog can enrich your life. Thinking of you -With love, Sharon & my golden Carlee

  20. meANXIETYme says:

    As others, I wept through this post. I didn’t want to read it and yet I had to read it. And with every sentence, my heart broke even more for you. I’m still crying now as I try to write this comment. You had amazing experiences with Eko…the brightest lights always seem to burn out the fastest. Eko’s light was so bright and so amazing, reaching out and touching so many lives…thank you for sharing him with us all these years.

    I can’t imagine how difficult this all is for James as well. Eko chose James to be his final caretaker, which is both a gift and a curse. But I suspect Mr. Eko knew what he was doing when he waited to pass…they do it to protect us. But he still wanted to be surrounded and comforted by the love he knew in this life, and James was selected. Hug James for me, both because he needs it and because I want him to know how important his role was in this. As hard as it was and is for James, he stepped in and did an amazing thing both for Eko and for you. Thank you, James.

    Emily is an amazing woman, who clearly loves you and knows you so well. So much love to her for her strength and her ability to allow you to rage when you needed to. And for her understanding of when to grab hold of you when you needed it.

    Our love to you and your whole family, two- and four-legged.

  21. sanda says:

    wow.. you should write a book!! I lost it at “You are my eko”. This was so beautiful… I can not imagine what you’re going through. All I can tell you is this: Eko is the reason why I want a RR. To me Eko had such a personality only through your videos like no other dog… You need to be sad but in a good and healthy way. Cry as much as you can and laugh as much as you can for Eko. I send you lots of love and strength<3

  22. amandamarieg says:

    This is heartbreaking and full of love and touches on the fear I have for myself–if I lost my sweet girl, that I would feel tempted to run away from everything. You touched a chord in my heart and I want to say thank you for being so honest about your grief.

    Love to Emily and Penny who are helping share your unimaginable burden right now.

  23. Geri Zeibert says:

    I am laying here sobbing aloud with tears running down unchecked. Orflaith lays on the floor next to me. She whines. I do not know whether from her discomfort or mine. She would not eat this morning. I will try some banana cream yogurt later on. I will fry up hamburger and boil rice and flavor it all with beef stock. Anything to tempt her, to keep her with me one more day. I feel you pain shrieking off the page. I will do anything, give anything for the chance to evade it one more day. I do not have an Emily nor a Penny. I imagine few of us do. Treasure them both and turn to them in your sorrow. There will never be another Eko but there yet may be another, different light. When the time comes use Eko’s strength to open your heart. That is the best testament to the difference he has made to your life.

  24. Dashlilly says:

    My father died when I was a little girl. My mother was only 39 years old. She said to me once “I”d give everything I have to have five more minutes with him.” In that one line she taught me the depth of love and the depth of loss. I think you’ve learned this lesson too. And now in my life, I’ve learned it too. But, I’ll say the truth – I’d give everything not to learn that lesson. Beautifully written post. Thank you.

  25. Ellen Quilty says:

    Oh Will I’m crying again.How awful for your poor brother too who was there with Eko and felt so helpless.I can’t even begin to imagine how agonizing it was for you to be so far away and be able to do nothing.The truth is though that even if you had been there you could not have done anything.Who ever thinks that what happened to Eko could happen in a blink of an eye?You are so right,it is not supposed to happen this way.As you said The Plan was for Eko to be there for your children to climb on and squeeze and grow old in your care.And what care you gave him! No dog could have had a better life.And Emily!You are so lucky to have her.She is suffering Eko’s loss too and on top of that she has to watch you go through the agony of the damned.As you keep saying there is still light in your life and you are right it is just dimmed right now.Hugs to you both.

  26. Yvonne says:

    Very emotional … I am overwhelmed.

    There are no words to relieve your loss … your grief and despair but my heart goes out to you.

    All the best!
    Greetings from Germany (sorry for my broken english),

  27. Sarah Kyllo says:

    Tears are falling from my eyes. When I imagine the day that I might lose my dog, my best friend, I always wonder what our last moments together would be. Your last day with Eko sounded like a perfect day, for both him and you. I know his life ended way too short, but he lived a very big life. Thank you for sharing your story.

  28. I am without words. Words are so lame.

  29. stephumina says:

    Will, your sorrow and grief hit far to close to home and we ache with you. Eko was a beautiful soul.
    So many mornings since I have woken up and gone about by day surrounded by more dogs and cats than you can imagine and I wonder what went wrong for Eko?

    I started this profession so that I could take the best care of my dogs. I routinely run their blood films, ultrasound them, xray them – maybe if I watch them like a hawk then nothing will develop or if it does I can fix it. Idealistic and foolish. Why do we choose to have pets if we worry constantly about them and hurt so much when they leave.

    sometimes life happens. There are things outside our control and it doesnt matter how careful we are we can’t avoid them. That’s life. Its beautiful because its unpredictable – but the beauty of it is even when our dogs leave us – we stay better people because of the life lessons we learned with them.

  30. Jo Rhodes says:

    Will, it occurred to me the other day when Eko bounded across my mind that you were so very lucky to have a job that initially depended on living with and telling stories about your boy. The clock says you only got five years with your boy. This is too short by any account, but you seemingly spent every minute of those five years with this gift from the universe.— Then you shared him and added his sister and your incredible wife. This sharing made the love deeper. Think of how exalted your pups are! ARE in the present tense all because Eko wagged his tail and helped you spin love into stories. We’ll continue to whisper Eko’s name into the wind to spread his infectious love.

    We’re here with you.
    Love Jo, Sam and Dean

  31. Stef Luciano says:

    I have no words. Just tears of sorrow for your loss and gratitude for your beautiful prose and willingness to share your story and open your heart to us. I am overwhelmed by grief for your loss and as I sit crying at my desk I am so reminded of how grateful I am for my dogs. They are the love of my life.

  32. Rose Frame says:

    Your dogs are lucky to have someone who loves them and wants to spend time with them. I also think it’s great that you communicate ways to care for your dogs in your stories. It teaches. I’m sorry you weren’t there. I’m certainly sorry for your pain. But those who have said so are right, you can kind of sort of write in a way that makes others feel emotions and that is a gift.

  33. Kismet says:

    Eko went way too soon. There is no good time to part ways with your “heart dog”. The worst is to have to make the decision as I did with Kyla. Is it really the right time? How do I deal with the guilt of taking the life of someone I promised that I’d never hurt? The pain never truly goes away. Even if this happened ten years from now, we’d still be hurting.

  34. KC Forsythe (Phoebe) says:

    I had managed to hold it together when reading your blog at my office until now. I’m crying and just wishing I could go home and squeeze Phoebe tight for the rest of the day. This is just gorgeous. Eko was truly special and so is his legacy that lives on in you. Love to your family and kiss Penny for us!

  35. Connie Taylor says:

    Will, You have become the voice of so many of us who have lost a family pet and were never able to express into words our sorrow the way you have helped us. Thank you for allowing the world into your home and sharing this sad time with us. Eko is proud of you! and so is Penny and especially Emily ❤️

  36. The tears are streaming down my face, but there are no words to express how very sorry I am for your loss and the painful road you are on without your heart dog. Just know I am confident you will continue to honor this wonder dog. Digital hugs to you and Emily with ear scritches to Ms. Penny…assuming you can catch her racing down on the beach. ღ

  37. Joan says:

    Will, your words have also brought me much comfort! We lost our beloved Buddy this past weekend. Thank you and as I do now, one foot in front of the other.

  38. lynneplus3 says:

    I lost the first of my three ridgebacks five years ago. She was a smart, funny, integral part of my pack. Although I often cry when I think of her (and my other 2, who died the following year), I am thankful for everything each of them has taught me. I am able to think back and smile and laugh at their memories, but it surely does take time.
    Surround yourself with love and that love will lift you out of the darkness.

  39. T&S says:

    Yesterday I started reading your blog again from your first post… Eko still young and going trough all those adventures by your side… he had a great life with you and he was and still is loved.
    My husband and I talked about that day, the day that is going to come, the day I fear the most. My husband survived that day when he was a boy with his first dog. I didnt. Our male is my first dog, our female my second dog. Never knew a human could love an animal that much.
    And I know that all I can do is cherish each day and give them a great life and all my love. That brings me peace. I wish you to find your peace to. Try to read your blog from first page. You will see the light.

  40. coastingnz says:

    Thnk you for sharing Will. I’m typing this by touch as I can’t see through my tears so excuse any mistakes. You have an amazing way with words – Eko would be so very very proud of this boy he saw turn into a man. His legacy does live on. In life and death Eko teaches us all so much. I think of you often, this family on the other side of the world I don’t even know. My heart breaks for you – not understanding the why is so hard but you have words that I just can’t find – you are stronger than you think and that is because of the love you and Eko have for each other – and will always have. Bless Emily – she is a super star, no wonder you, Eko and Penny love her!

  41. Oh, this is heartbreaking to read. No matter how long a dog lives, there can never be ENOUGH time with our furry family members. We lost our last dog to cancer when she was only 2 1/2 years old. It took me a long time to get to a point where I remembered her with more smiles than tears. She taught me so much and brought so much into my life. I know Eko did the same for you. I like to say that Abby was cheated on “quantity” of life, but she won in the “quality” department. I’m sure the same was true for Eko. He’ll always be with you in your heart.

  42. Sam says:

    Ah! You have me crying… Your love and bond is beautiful and something that I’ve always admired. At our house, we mourn with you for the dog we didn’t know, but feel like we did through your words, photos, and memories.

  43. TheRidgebackLife says:

    Once again, Will, it’s taken me hours to finally see through the tears in order to write a response. Granted I’ve been battling the flu and curled up in bed with a Neeka and Khoi, I still find myself quite emotional with your loss. Like your pups, mine seem to come alive just before a storm so it’s my favorite time to head the lake. From this time on, I will think of a guy and his pups, chasing the wind on a beach 1774 miles away from us (yes, I googled that). One pup will be flying a little further off the ground right at your side.

  44. Grace says:

    I think it’s incredibly telling that your priority was still dedicating quality time to Eko and Penny and doing things that for them are so important and they enjoy so much but for humans we shrug off as frivolous when a day of packing and airport security and running to catch a flight await us. It made me so sad to read the Charleston association because I first started reading your blog when I moved to Charleston and adopted my dog, Cannoli. I was looking for things we could do together in this new city and found your blog. I remember being so excited to follow in Eko and your footsteps and create my own adventure with my little guy. And even now I think you’re a great example of what all of us should be in our role as friends and protectors of these amazing beings that give us their love so unconditionally that few of us could live up to deserving it. But you’re definitely one of those few. You were meant for Eko as he was for you. Thanks for allowing us a glimpse of your relationship and bond with Eko and Penny through the good times and the ones filled with sorrow.

  45. Barbara Gayle says:

    Dearest Will: I cherish all the photos and videos you’ve shared with us. I have a Rhodesian Ridgeback “fur-niece” who I love with a part of my heart that never knew love before. She is a magnificent soul, as Eko was. I could feel his soul through his beautiful eyes. I feel a tiny fraction of your grief. I pray that you don’t lose faith in the fact that you are the best doggie-dad on the planet. Penny knows that, and Emily does, too. I hope you know the impact you have had on us [the public]. Please take care. Barbara G.

  46. Karen in Oregon says:

    It took me twice the time it should have to read this, as the tears were falling so heavy. Will, we cried for you and with you, and for our own losses we have experienced when you lost Eko This was such a tragedy, and now to know the details is, well, wow.

    Two years ago my husband declared “I’m getting a ridgeback puppy, period”, as IF I would say no. I was very excited, but did not know much about the breed. As our puppy Kimba became part of our household, your videos became our User Guide. We learned so much from you and Eko…and Penny, too. Most importantly, we learned that there are crazy dog loving people out there, just like us, and your videos confirmed that we are the luckiest people on earth to have such great relationships with our dogs.

    We got our second ridgeback, Olive, a year later. Why? Because Kimba needed her own “Penny”, of course. Thanks, a lot, Will! ; )

    Our lives are wrapped around our dogs and we would have it no other way. Thank you for sharing your story, your love, and your heart. Those of us who “get” the love of a dog are truly blessed. And now, I’m going to give them each a hug and tell them that same thing.

  47. lorij276 says:

    Will, thank you so much for sharing your story, your anguish and heartbreak, and most importantly, your courage. We lost our 14month old ridgeback, Sebastian in an eerily similar way a little less than two years ago. We were on our honeymoon, my mom found him, and just like Eko, there was no discernible cause of death. We had bred, whelped, and raised him. He was carefully planned and chosen. And there was nothing we could have done better or differently. What we learned from him -and from the loss of him – I think is something more valuable than almost any other lesson to be learned about marriage. We learned how to cry – together. How to grieve – together. How to heal – together. And how to grow – together. Sebastian had a purpose. A part to play. He taught us how to love each other better. And we will never forget.
    As hokey as it sounds, he’ll come to you. When you’re ready, Eko will find you. And you’ll smile when he noses your palm as you walk down the hall. He’ll let you know that it’s ok; that he’s ok, and he’ll thank you for loving him so fiercely.
    Our hearts are with you, Will and Emily – and Penny!

  48. Merry Band of Hooligans says:

    Thank you for sharing your stories-your life, thank you for bringing a smile and a giggle to us through your words and pictures, thank you for sharing your pain and tears…most of all- thank you for not giving in to the black hole of grief that surrounded you after losing Eko. As always, we will look forward to your posts with Penny Mayhem and her crazy antics.

    Thank you Will.

  49. Deborah Schmidt says:

    My Kirby fell while running and tore his ACL. He could not walk so we took him to the 24 hour emergency and he was scheduled for surgery the next morning. At 4:00am the morning of surgery the vet called and while doing rounds Kirby was found dead. Xrays and ultrasounds revealed nothing. No bloat. Healthy, happy, athletic RR 7 years old. Four years ago and I relive that phone call every day. Give yourself time.

  50. Andrea Büchler says:

    Wonderful words … I`m so sorry for your loss

    It`s true –
    When I come to you in dreams ,
    I`m really there.
    When you see me out of the corner of your eye,
    I`m really there.
    When you ” sense ” me
    around the place,
    I`m really there.
    I haven`t left you , not really.
    My spirit is everywhere,
    Bur especially with you .

  51. Nicole says:

    Your words are beautiful, I don’t think I’ve ever been so touched and heartbroken by a blog post. I’ve followed your journey for a long time, and although I do not know you or your family I share in a small piece of your grief. Eko lived a life that was taken away far too soon, but in his short amount of time he touched more lives than most aspire to. Far too many people do not understand the impact that a dog has on our lives, Eko has never been and never will be “just a dog”. I hope that all of your fond memories of him help to ease some of your pain, and that wherever Eko is now that he is looking over all of you. Thank you for such a raw and honest post, Eko was truly an inspiring creature.

  52. Stacey says:

    Tears and Aloha from Hawaii. Sorry for your loss of Eko. We understand your pain. We had rescued a 6 month old RR/Boxer mix (Koa) in July 2002, but had to put him to rest in Nov 2015. We came to love RR because Koa was the best dog we ever had. We love your videos and pictures of Eko and Penny. RR are not easy to come by in Hawaii, but we found a 3/4 RR puppy. Puppy is awesome, but we still really miss Koa. No dog can really replace him, our first RR love. We wish you fond memories of your beloved Eko and creation of great times with Penny. The hole in your heart will get smaller but it will never go away. Your depression will subside, but your memories will never leave you. Until you meet again at the Rainbow Bridge…

  53. Cathy & Banjo says:

    Maybe others have brought this up, but if you wanted to set up some sort of fund in honor of Eko, maybe to donate some charitable organization like a dog rescue or shelter that you know of, my husband and I would definitely be on board. I suspect many others would also like to honor Eko’s memory somehow. Your writing so beautifully and achingly captures the bond between human and dog that we can all resonate with. I’m so glad you have Emily and Penny, and your wonderful memories of Eko, to help you smile again.

  54. Joan says:

    I’m worried about Sadie, like Penny, how do we help them move forward?

  55. lauramcgrew says:

    Anne LaMott wrote, “…and then, finally, grief ends up giving you the two best things: softness and illumination.”
    (This was a quote I held on to after the deaths of both my parents, three years apart.)
    I just wish the fiery trials of loss, and the sheer ache of longing were not so difficult. Will, you hang in there, friend. Making your way towards the light, and keeping your heart tender are just too important.

  56. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to read this post. I knew it would bring up feelings and memories that I’m still struggling with since I lost Boomer. However, I made myself do it. For you, for Eko and of course Emily and Penny, you deserve these words. Am I feeling something? Yes. How could I not? I know your pain is real and your emotions are raw, it’s because of love. One of the truest kinds of love, that of a person and their dog. I wish there was something I could do to help you, but all I have to offer are my words here, my deepest, deepest condolences and my promise to keep reading to honor the bond you shared with Eko.

  57. Linda says:

    We lost our Singha (Rhodesian Ridgeback) The 21st of Oct and The pain is horrible.
    I meet you in your sorrow, in every word written and everything you describe so beautifully here.

    Thank you for putting words to your love for Eko!

    In love there is pain – otherwise it wouldn’t be called love.

  58. What an incredibly beautiful outpouring of love and empathy in these posts from your followers and friends………we all feel your pain and the emptiness….. People who have never had a pet really don’t quite get the bond between man and beast. It’s not like human friend to human friend other than being a closeness, it’s a psychic bond – a bond of the very soul. I look into Sam’s eyes just as I have all the other pets I’ve had in my many years and feel something different – an understanding that I see in very few human eyes no matter who that human might be. I relish it, languish in it, laugh because of it and certainly cry when that is gone. You are making your way in your own time and in your own fashion through the darkness of loss and you are quite a lucky guy to have Emily and Penny to help. Some face that pain alone. But then again NONE of us is ever really alone – Eko is in your soul forever and ever. I just feel happy to have known him as a follower – I see in his eyes what I’ve seen in my own pets’ eyes…….that look in his in all the photos was there because it was YOU he was looking at as you captured him on film. Journey on Will………..

    Hugs, Pam

  59. Tricia Thompson says:

    Tears are streaming down my face again, but thank you for sharing your loss and your pain. We all care for you, Emily, and Penny. Again you put into hauntingly beautiful words the ache we feel when we lose one we love so much. We’ve shared our lives with eight RRs, and five have passed on. I can still be moved to tears at memories of any one of them. But our lives are so much richer because we choose to share them with these wonderful dogs. We will make a donation to Ridgeback Rescue in Eko’s memory. Much love to you all.

  60. Lisa says:

    Not easy to read as you said but I’m sure even harder to relive with printed words. Will, you convey your agony so heartbreakingly beautifully. Once again the tears flowed for your hurt and everyday struggle to move past the hollow absence that has become an unwelcome house guest. Sending you, Emily, and Penny lots of love….

  61. Koos says:

    I’m lost for words, it’s only tears I have left… <3

  62. What a wonderful gift Emily has given to you by professing the fact that you are her Eko. I’m sure you’ll find a way to live up to that distinction. Get well…

  63. Lou says:

    I’m at a loss for words. What an amazingly beautiful tribute to Eko. I also went through something very similar to you. A year and 5 months ago I left my house in the morning for the usual day at work. Gave my baby Simba (ridgeback) and Maddie (viszla) a kiss and told them I love you. My wife came a couple hours later and told me Simba didn’t want a treat when she left. Very odd for her. I sent my mother in law to go check on her and she was laying on the kitchen tile. She never ever laid on the bare floor, she would whine until I at least put a towel where I was so she could lay down. I knew something was wrong. My wife left immediately and met them at the vet. Her spleen had ruptured and she was internally bleeding. We rushed her to the best veterinary clinic in South Florida. The dr said she had cancer (hemangiosarcoma) which is undetectable until it’s too late. The dr basically told me to put her too sleep or with not much hope I can do surgery, remove the spleen and they give her 6 months. I did the surgery because I would NEVER give up on her and I wanted to exhaust that option. I drove up to the hospital to see her and spent about 45 min telling her that I love her and just petting her. A little while after she was stable enough for surgery and the dr called me during the procedure and gave me even worse news. She had these cysts from the cancer all over and at anytime they can rupture. Causing internal bleeding and death. She wanted to know what to do. All I could think about was me leaving for work and one of these cysts rupture and coming home to her dead. I had to make the toughest decision of my life which was to not see her in any pain or have her die on the floor. I had her cremated and keep her on my night stand. My other dog Maddie and her were INSEPERABLE for almost 11 years. I think about Simba every single day and give extra attention to Maddie as they spent every single day together, I’m sure she was hurting more than I. It’s amazing how much of our hearts they fill. I don’t think I can ever get another dog and I’m grateful Maddie is doing ok and just turned 12. I cherish every day I have with her. It’s crazy to me that when I left in the morning she was perfectly fine and a few hours later she would be gone. Sorry for the long story. I know the pain you’re going through. It gets easier with time, we never forget but learn to cope. I’m wondering if Eko had cancer and something ruptured.

  64. Delft says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I hadn’t heard, and it is really heartbreaking. Eko was a wonderful dog.
    When my dog died, I realised that we have no defences against the heartbreak of losing a pet, no cushioning mechanisms of denial. The pain hits us immediately and in full force, much more so than when humans die. I don’t know whether this is because our love for them is less hedged around with conflicts, misunderstandings, and silences.
    It may be no comfort now, but you gave him a wonderful life, and he loved you with all his big doggy heart.
    One day the pain will get less, and a little less another day. And one day you will be able to look back and remember all the fun and all the love, without the heartbreak. Until then, hang in there.

  65. Ange says:

    Tears rolled quietly down my face as I read your post, and I could hardly catch my breath.
    Your anguish is so raw, and has triggered the same latent emotions which have been bubbling away below the surface since we lost a much loved ridgeback girlie 15 months ago.
    I wept for Eko, for you, Emily and Penny and for my own loss. The tears and sadness that engulfed me confirm that grief is an overwhelming physical pain that you merely learn to live with and supress – until that is, you’re confronted with an eloquently crafted account like yours.
    Keep your chin up Will, your readers live all over the globe which means that every minute of every day we’ve got your back x

  66. Sue says:

    It would seem that more research is required to find out why, a dog in the prime of its life dies without any reason. This doesn’t seem to happen in other large breeds. Is there an anomaly in RRs that should be studied? I hope that this instance with prompt some inquiry. Eko was the example of the dog we all desire. My sympathies are with you and your family.

  67. Oh, the tears…I have suffered the sudden, unexpected loss of a beautiful middle-aged dog, as well as the more anticipated loss of an elderly 15 year old dog a few years later. I loved them both and neither death was easy, but I still grieve the time I didn’t get with the younger of the two. I never thought I wouldn’t also watch her grow old and gray, until she was gone. Gosh I miss her so much, and it’s been 12 years since she left us. I am so sorry about Eko. Penny is beautiful, and I’m sure you’ll let another dog or two into your hearts in time.

  68. PE says:

    Difficult to imagine a more fitting tribute for a spectacular dog. You have brightened the lives of so many through you spirited sharing of Eko and Penny. we in the Ridgeback community get how devastating it is to lose your best boy, your furry soulmate, the one who got you out of bed each and every day. My livernutter went over the rainbow bridge in August, and I sob as I sit reading your words. Raw, passionate and speaking to the grief I carry.

    May your soul be soothed with the knowledge of the magnificent time you shared with Eko. While the minutes may have been short, you packed an amazing life into each and every one of them. Fly free sweet Eko. Carrying you and Emily and Penny in my heart.

  69. Devine-Brownie says:

    There is nothing I could say that wasn’t said before…nevertheless I would like to let you know that this is the most heartbreaking story ever told.
    I was frightend to read this. I did not know what this would do with me.
    Today i have overcome the fear.
    From the first word i had tears in my eyes…and it did not end when I read the last word….
    There are so many pictures I’ve seen of beautiful Eko….and later of Eko and Penny…they are so familiar to me that it seems that I have lost a part of my own pup…Eko always reminds me of my little girl…
    Will, this story -your story- is told with your heart blood and from the bottom of your soul…there is no better way to honor your baby pup.
    Nobody can take the pain you feel…I know..
    but look at this blog….look at all those people who are writing with empathy to say what special pup Eko has been….he send so much love even to people who never knew him…
    Thank you for sharing yor story on losing your dog and finding your way with us.. this is presumably the most intimate story I have read…
    Sending lots of kisses❤️

  70. It is probably good that you have no comment “like” buttons – I would have had to click on every single one.

    I’ve been where you are – several times in the past 30 years. Different reasons, but the loss is equally unbearable every single time. Scar tissue forms, but the sense of loss remains. I know that there is absolutely nothing I can say that won’t be annoying to hear on some level. So I will leave you with this: I understand – and i am so sorry for your loss.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

  71. Eve says:

    Tears are falling again for this giant of a DOG and what could / should have been a long life! But in truth This is simply beautiful poetry as EKO was in sprinting down the beach. Thank you for these words as I also relive a dark time in my life and reflect on him. Thank you.

  72. Melody says:

    Oh My! Read this at work and I sit at my desk with tears streaming down my face. Such a thoughtful, honest and emotional post. My heart breaks for you all again. I truly hope you find the light with Eko’s memory guiding you.

  73. Tom says:

    I hope this prayer helps you as much as it has helped me. God speed, Will.

    May you see God’s light on the path ahead
    When the road you walk is dark.
    May you always hear,
    Even in your hour of sorrow,
    The gentle singing of the lark.
    When times are hard may hardness
    Never turn your heart to stone,
    May you always remember
    when the shadows fall –
    You do not walk alone.

  74. Oh Will, I am inconsolable. I started reading the post, got to the part about the wedding…then when your Mom called…my husband was watching football and I said “Oh Dear God NO, you have to come over here” I thought I could read him this post, I did…but not without having stopped at least 30 times to try and regain my own composure to continue reading. If it is possible I hurt for you even more……..I cannot even begin to pretend I feel the depths of your grief. “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it. Not at all. I am ripped apart all over again. God Bless Emily….God Bless Emily for her wisdom, for her heart. I am confident that yes…you DO have “just enough light to see by.”…………God Bless you all……….none of these words that I have written are enough…they don’t even come close…….please know you have all of our hearts and our prayers….and please give Penny (and Emily) tons and tons of extra kisses and hugs from us and definitely keep a ton for yourself. I just don’t have the words……..

  75. Ogee says:

    Love and healing to you. <3

  76. You are an amazing man and Eko was blessed to have you as you were blessed to have him. I’m sorry his time on earth was short and that you were not there in the end. He knew you were there, you were always with him. Things happen for unknown reasons and maybe one day that reason will come to you. Peace to you and thank you for being brave enough to share such a touching part of your life with us. xoxoxo

  77. Kate Obrien says:

    Will, I’ve been away for months and only today read of Eko’s passing. As I sit here crying for you and for Eko, I add my sympathy’s to the many before me. We all loved Eko and the joy he brought to you and to us. There is no easy way to get over losing a pet, especially unexpectedly, other than to just live it. You are blessed to have Penny and Emily – hold onto them and let them show you the way.

  78. Elizabeth Brown says:

    It has taken me a few weeks to come up with the courage to read this post after hearing of Eko’s passing. An avid Ridgeback fan/owner and former Chicagoan, I very much enjoy your blog! Your words in this post seem to reach into my soul, into the pits of despair I also encountered when losing my soul mate, travel companion, and beloved dog, Eli, almost 3 years ago. Even after 3 years, your words bring me back to the place where every step I took, I felt his absence at my side. I was particularly touched by the words of your wife, when she referred to you as her Eko. How special that must have felt, even in that dark moment. I hope you continue to see the light in each day. Thank you for sharing these beautiful and painful words, it feels like you are honoring all our fur babies waiting for us at the rainbow bridge.

  79. Pawel says:

    I share Your pain Will. It’s really hard to lost puppy when you expect that you have a lot time for further adventures. I had two beautifull puppies and I lost my 1,3 years old Vizsla girl just in one week to lymphoma without any further warning. I’m right now enjoying every single moment with my 4years old Rhodesian girl but still can’t forget about my baby girl. It’s hard to loose our friends. It’s heartbreaking. I cried when I saw video and again later reading the blog. I huged my girl and promised to myself to appriciate even more every moment that we have.

    Take care. Pawel & Whisky

  80. Thank you Will for sharing your story. It takes courage to put grief into words, something many of us cannot do, and could not do after what you’ve suffered. Dogs teach us such wonderful things don’t they? I read through your words with eyes filled with tears. We all share your pain, but know that we have all shared your joy and I am grateful that you have shared your magical connection with Eko. Magical really is often the only word I can use to explain these dogs and their existence, an existence we perhaps aren’t meant to understand. As someone who has suffered a similar loss, all the words I can offer are to embrace your grief. Its healthy. Eko’s spirit lives on in your words, photos and all the good you put back into the world because of him. Sending lots of tail wags, nose boops and healing energy from Merle and Kaya to you and your family. – Jess

  81. Paul says:

    Will, I’m so sorry to hear of the untimely passing of Eko. I lost my beautiful 10 year old Ridgeback, Keesha, about 18 months ago; she had contracted lymphoma. The day we put her down, with my wife, three daughters and myself, was by far the most painful day of our lives. I came across your videos shortly thereafter and they bring back such joy and fond memories my family and I had with our dog. Thank you for posting them. We will eventually get another Ridgeback when we spend 100% of our time with a puppy. In the mean time, I will undoubtedly enjoy your posts and the joy your Ridgebacks bring.

  82. John says:

    Heartbreaking and much too early. How old … 6?
    You spent quality time with Eko and did so many things together. Not every dog has that experience – he always looked like a very happy fellow. There was a fantastic bonding between you both. That is the tough part of life. We know time is limited and we never know how long we have. You made the most of your time with Eko. Somethings things happen which do not make sense, where there is not answer or explanation as to why it happens. Hope your heart heals soon. He will always be a part of you. Look forward /hope to see further posts with Penny and perhaps at some point in the future you may decide to adopt a Ridgeback puppy to accompany you and Penny. Then Penny can give the affection to that puppy that Eko gave to Penny. All the best. John and Sabine from Germany (2 x Rhodesian Ridgeback: Jasiri – Male, 5 yrs old and Imana – female, 3 yrs old).

  83. […] The storm passed and we had to carry on. I knew it was up to me not only to rebuild myself, but to help Penny rebuild herself and rebuild our relationship. I’ve increased the walks we take, the distances we run and the time we spend together outside. We’re building a stronger bond and Penny’s begun to reform her orbit around me, tighter than ever. […]

  84. Jonti Bacharach says:

    Hi Will,

    I just came across what’s happened and I’m so sorry for your loss. You may not remember, but you were kind enough to answer a few of my questions about my ridgeback puppy and I’ve always appreciated that. My heart breaks for you, Penny, and Emily. There’s so little to say other than one day at a time, surround yourself with love, etc. You, clearly, said it best, worse than losing Eko would be losing all that he has taught you. I’m sending my thoughts and prayers. Phisher is as well, with a side of slobbly licks.


  85. Alison says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented on anyone’s blog before, but I just want to say that I’m terribly, terribly sorry to hear of your loss. I’ve been watching your videos on YouTube for quite awhile, and they always make me smile. As I type, I have my RR Nigel on my left, and my RR Liam on my right. I know you’ll understand when I simply say I can’t describe my love for them in anyway that would do justice to how much I love them. I know our time together isn’t going to be forever, either on my end or their end, but I’m trying to do the best with the time I have. You certainly seemed to create a wonderful, wonderful life for your pups, and it brought me joy to see how much you loved your RRs. I wish you peace and comfort in the months ahead.

  86. Jan says:

    Ah I am so so sorry. I loved watching your Eko and Penny videos – your love for your dogs shines through their eyes. I understand the pain of losing your soul mate. I lost my lab about 3.5 years ago and I still miss her every day. Now I have a ridgeback/lab cross which is what lead me to your You Tube videos – we too live a crazy exciting life with a Ridgeback. I hope you and Emily and Penny comfort each other and I know there is space in your heart forever filled with Eko. Eko lived every single day of her life knowing she was truly loved which made her the happiest dog on Earth. Hugs to you

  87. Viviennne says:

    Wow. I searched for the video where Eko gets to wear boots for the first time, because it is so hilarious, and I revisit it every once in a while 😉
    Came across the Goodbye Eko video title which jolted me, and went straight here. So many tears. I am so, so sorry. A few years back we suddenly lost our beautiful girl at the age of 2.5 years to very aggressive cancer — it is beyond painful when they go before they get to journey to old age with you. Good on you for sharing the immeasurable grief, and good on you for slowly but surely seeing more light. You truly are the best human Eko could have wished for, and he knew that.

  88. Oh no! I was so heartbroken when I came across the YouTube video saying goodbye to Eko. I have regularly watched your videos for about a year while searching for all of the information that I could find on getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback. When I found your videos, I knew I was destined to have an Eko/Penny and I spent lots of my free time watching your stories with them. I had no idea what had happened until I routinely typed in Rhodesian Ridgeback into the search bar to find your videos and it popped up on my sidebar. I cried and cried while watching, I am heartbroken for you. I will be getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback this summer, I want to name her Lily (Harry Potter fan haha). I just want to thank you for sharing your life and pups with all of us, you’ve created something beautiful and heart warming. My boyfriend would always make fun of me when he walked in the room and he heard I had another video on, “Not this guy again!” he would laugh. But watching your videos was and IS as close as I can get to having a RR puppy until I graduate from grad school so I always felt like I was getting to be apart of Eko and Penny’s life. Thank you for telling your story, and Eko’s, and your family’s. I will continue to watch the videos and hope that you will find solace in time and the amazing experience you had while it lasted with Eko. Sending you all of the positive energy, I am going to go watch more videos now and pass the time until I have my own Eko. Thank you, thank you, thank you <3

  89. Mathias Persson says:

    i lost my best friend ,my everything a year ago ,my Mugambi a strong healthy ridgeback ,never been sick ,he collapsed suddenly without any warnings in terrible cramps . i never been so afraid in my life , rushed him to a vet ,brain tumor ,there was nothing to do for him … i held him in my arms ,i felt his heart stop beating and in that moment i wished mine would stop beating with his.. i never felt such pain ,such guilt ,he was always there for me ,and when he needed me i could not do anything ..i am a big man ,tattooed biker type . and i cried my self to sleep every night. i could not function ,i missed my gambi so much it felt like my heart was ripped apart.. friends and family had problems understanding my grief over a dog … now a year later i found your blog and i feel your pain i cry as i write this and i am so sorry for yor loss and i would ask god if i could .. if now Eko had to ´die why couldn’t you at least been allowed to be there with him ..
    As write this Behind me in my soafa lies Obasi , carelessly snoring on his back ,,he is a 8 month ridgeback , he can never replace Gambi ,but he has helped me dealing with the pain and loss…. thank you from the bottom of my heart for your story … take care /Mathias Persson ,Helsingborg ,south of Sweden

  90. […] world. A living testament to the ideal of  an ever generous heart, no matter how many times you’ve been robbed. Penny and Auggie wildly battle was a happy reminder to stay committed to that […]

  91. Scott Spinner says:

    I cannot express how saddened I am at reading about the loss of Eko. Please know that it was your videos of Eko & Penny, that brought me peace, and hope while raising our now 11 month old Ridgeback (Gwen, short for Guinevere). Gwen is our families first dog, and as you can imagine…she is a handful, but she is loved immensely. My wife’s greatest fear in getting Gwen, was for the day that we will eventually lose her. It is the times between now and that day, that we plan to cherish and remember forever. We’re in Western Ohio, and live on 72 acres of land. Gwen could use another Ridgeback to play with, so if you’re ever up for a trip, please let us know…
    Scott, Elle, Caleb, Josh…and Lady Guinevere

  92. Dagmar Achleitner says:

    Hi, Will.
    I´m sick. I lay in my bed too tired to read a book. I think: “Let me see, what Eko and Penny are doing.” Is it really true? Yes, it is a very bad message, bad news.
    Six years ago my husband died. Before he gone, he said to me:” Don´t worry, You have our Coro (RR), he will stay with you, he will protect you, he will sleep in my bed on your side”. Four years ago died my Coro, my wonderfull ridgeback, nearly 8 years old absolutely unexpected – tears, grief, saidness. I write it all to make you sure, that I can really understand your situation and your feeling now.
    I made a photo-book – it was a very good therapy for me – to look for special pictures, to choise them and to put them together. This book´s title is Our time together. It´s a book just for me.
    Somebody wrote, you are a gifted writer – it´s true. Yes, you are. You are a master of words, you can describe situations and express your feeling in a special way. I think, it´s because everything starts in your heart. Perhaps you can write a book about your Eko. But please not just for you alone.

    I never wrote a comment, never in English. But there is something – it pushed me to write you. Maybe this is the reason: So many people all over the world like to watch your funny videos, they always laugh. But now they cry. And they are not able to write you because of many reasons. I write you in the name of all no-writers: we (I wrote we, I´m also a no-writer, this is my first time), so we all send you power and love.

    And Eko says:” Don´t cry for me! Be happy having so beautifull time together. I love you. And Emily. And Penny. You are my pack, my family, my life. Thank you!”

    You are on my mind, Dagmar.


  93. Laura says:

    I’m so saddened by your sudden loss. I humbly believe when God created dogs he had a RR in mind….an ever evolving breed that can withstand just about anything and go anywhere, just to be by our side. I have 2 RR: Neo, who we got as a puppy 5 years ago and Reese, who we adopted from our neighbors a couple years ago. At first, I was very reluctant to get a dog as I had never had a dog before. But my husband and kids talked me into it. Over time, somehow, he became “my” dog. He doesn’t always do what I want him to do: sit, stay, come, etc. etc. but he always does what I need him to do. He’s been my rock, my protector, my confidant, my pillow, my goofball, my racing partner (I’m a runner), my confidence booster, my everything. So, I understand a bit of how you feel. The wound is still fresh….give yourself time.

  94. Gina Barbosa says:

    I am so sorry, Eko was a special pup who was loved by many around the world. My heart goes out to you and your family. Lots of love and courage to you. Kiss Penny for all of us.

    Gina, Fiona, Lapsi and Kimi

  95. maozlife says:

    Hi Will,
    this is Mattia and Anna from Italy. We are soooo sorry for your loss: we watched all your videos and follow your blog since our little cute rhodesian came into our life: our puppy Joy (6 months old and over 30 kgs) is really the “joy” of our life and we are having a great time discovering how life can be awesome with a dog! 🙂
    We wish you all the best and continue to follow your blog to see what’s going on with Penny and your future adventures together!

    A big hug from Italy!
    Mattia, Anna and Joy

  96. Rita says:

    Hi Will,,I am Rita,,from Nova Scotia ,Canada..I have been following your videos since before our Ridgie came into our life..fabulous Athena,,,and have certainly enjoyed,,,and learned a lot about ridgebacks..and have fallen completely in love…I am so sorry for your loss..Your love for Eko and Penny has surely got us through year one of a Ridgeback, for life..

  97. Paul says:

    Hey Will,
    My heart breaks for you and your loss. I lost my universe this summer when my 14 year old Ridgeback and soul mate, Ellie, passed away, so I understand your pain. 6 months later I still cry. If it wasn’t for her 8 year old nephew, Dash, who cuddles me and reminds me of all the good times, like your Penny, I’d go nuts. Now I have Dash’s niece, Kaylee, who’s a wacky puppy, to keep Dash exercised and me company. I feel so lucky to have their love and friendship. I don’t know why we all deserve the love of such amazing souls, yet I’m so grateful for it. I hope you are able to find peace and happiness.
    Paul – Oregon

  98. Dear Will,

    I haven’t checked your blog in several months and was saddened and shocked by this news. My deepest sympathy to you and your family. Your videos of Eko and Penny inspired me to rebuild my life around a dog at a time when I was excruciatingly lonely. You then got me through a difficult six months when I knew I couldn’t yet have a dog (was moving internationally) but desperately wanted (needed) one. I was told by close friends and family that a dog would be inconvenient and too much work but your videos helped me keep my resolve. In July, I picked up an 8 week old ridgeback, Sesame, and she has changed my world. I have thought sometimes about the deep pain I know I will feel when she is gone but agree completely with you that the love, play, and dog-sparkle that she has brought to my life is completely worth it. Thank you for sharing your adventures. Eko was a magnificent dog and his memory will live on with all the ridgeback parents who you inspired.


  99. Judy Pattiasina says:

    Hi Will,

    I am sorry for your, your wife and Penny her loss, I hope Penny will lift your spirits with the enthusiastic character she seems to have. My dad and I follow you on youtube, I was sad to see your movie appear with this news. Your journey together was amazing and I am only hoping I will have one like you 2 one day.

    Goodluck from The Netherlands!
    Judy & Catoo (my rhodesian)

  100. Arne says:

    Dear Will,
    I just now saw your youtube video about Eko’s passing. We have enjoyed your videos about Eko and Penny. We have two Rhodesian Ridgebacks and they are our ‘children’. In a way they seem similar to Eko and Penny when looking at their personalities, they are amazing to watch. That is why your story hits close to home (I’ll admit, some tears were shed..) and I realize once again how precious the dogs are. They joy these dogs bring is hard to describe as is the excruciating pain of loosing a dog. You are in my thoughts and I wish you and your family all the best and many more years with Penny.

  101. I am so immensely sorry to read this, I can’t even find the words, only tears. I know the heartwrenching pain that follows when you lose your beloved furry soulmate, but I was luckier, because I got to keep her for almost fourteen years and you were so horribly robbed of that, losing Eko way too soon. And to not even know why he suddenly died – I can’t even imagine.
    Just because I recently read about on a blog and because it’s so little known, I wanted to alert you to a thing called RRIVA; Rhodesian Ridgeback Inherited Ventricular Arrhythmia. Ridgebacks can live a full life with it or may sadly die from it suddenly at a young age. The one I read about was six years old and only six months later, her 3 year old daughter died from most likely the same thing (the inherited part). Too sad to fathom, but it may offer an explanation for your dear Eko. I wish you all the best, I feel for you, so much.

    All my love and support!

  102. pete says:


    I am so sorry to hear your news. I have had 4 ridgebacks and they were my world – I to sit here with tears reading your story for it brings back memory’s you will never replace him nor do you want to, he was special and always will be. How lucky we are to have shared life with him. We have so much to learn. Give yourself time and things do improve, thinking of you. Pete

  103. empathicguide says:

    I just now found out when I checked your blog…I am heartbroken…again. I feel your pain all too much. I lost my Ridgeback Limuka at the too young age of 8 (he just made 8). The last year was a nightmarish struggle as his kidneys slowly failed and we had to put him down (the most painful day of my life). He was my first dog, and my first best friend love. When I first came across your blog I could relate so much, now living with my second Ridgeback (Bariki) and loved the videos. I laughed and now cried too when I saw your video about his passing, way too soon and it struck home. There are no words anyone can say to you. Nothing will ease the pain other than simply time. For me, getting another Ridgeback puppy several weeks later did help immensely!! You absolutely can never, ever replace them, ever! Limuka’s ashes and Shrine behind me as I write this, an LED candle burns for him always. I shudder in fear of that one dreaded day when it is Bariki’s “time”, I know how I will fall apart then too!! But a Dog’s love is so absolutely selfless, forgiving, joyous, and just plain perfect, they remind us every day to simply pause and enjoy what little time we have and how precious life is. I believe that’s why their lifespans are so short. All I know now is how empty my life would be without a Ridgeback to be by my side, now and until the time I pass. I am so grateful for that. You gave Eko an AMAZING life, and he gave you what words would never do justice. I am so very sorry for his passing and your loss, I feel your pain and lend your what little words I can. Not sure what you believe, but for me, I believe completely in the spirit of a Dog loved so much. When my time comes and I walk down that white light tunnel, I so look forward to seeing Limuka running towards me to greet me as I walk my cross-over (sorry family, ;). Actually the week after Limuka’s passing I took a photo of the screen house in the back yard and there was a perfect sun shadow of Limka running like he used to in the yard (I was stunned!). As corny as it may sound, I feel his spirit walks with me until I cross over. My heart goes out to you! Peace….Safe Journey Eko 🙁

  104. Michael says:

    I had always had a very strong desire to get a Rhodesian Ridgeback for many years. I happened to find your collection of videos on YouTube and it finally inspired me to make the decision to finally get a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy Gemma nine months ago. I watched every video that I could find of yours online as I knew that she would be a challenge and have specific needs that any other breeds. Actually you have a been able to give so much more than you would ever realize to people and I truly am saddened by your loss but I do know that your love for animals will find you persevering and finding solace in the virtue that you speak of . God bless and I wish you only the best!

  105. Sammy Ingle says:

    I watch you on youtube all the time. I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  106. Maartje Kapteijns says:

    You and Eko made us choose a rhodesian to be our new family friend. We are so sorry for your loss. We wish you, your wife and Penny all the strength.

    Maartje, family and of course our pup Maja (7 months)

  107. Aran says:

    Great video honoring your boy. I lost my best friend this past Monday and having a tough time holding it together – this really hurts. His name was Jones and he was the greatest ridgeback in the world. 12 and a half years of pure love! Please tell me this gets easier; I keep having to sneak away from the wife and kids to cry.

  108. Rose says:

    I happened to stumble upon your video on YouTube and then hopped on over to your blog. One of my best friends just lost his Ridgie named Kito. He was to turn 12 in April. He was like my baby as well. I lost my Ridgeback mix in 2012 and it was the worst, yes, definitely the hardest thing I’ve EVER had to go through… Kito was there right away for me. My friend let me take him on weekends to help comfort me while I cry and cry and cry. His big brown eyes always assuring me i’m going to be okay.. that the pain will lessen, and to know my baby Jake loved me. Kito loved to snuggle on the couch and sleep in that damn sun for hours; only to crash down flat on the cool tile floor hours later. He hiked all over San Diego County and knew to watch for snakes. He loved dog beaches. Dog parks. Most of all, he adored and loved his favorite people. Although he wasn’t my baby, I feel for my friend and what he is going through. I read your blog and cried my eyes out. I completely understand the pain. I have guilt for moving away from San Diego to Wisconsin and not saying goodbye to Kito….life got hectic and, well, …. I thought I would see him again. The toughest, but yet so grateful, was the opportunity in FaceTiming with my friend while hew as at the vet to say goodbye… both of us bawling our eyes out. He had congestive heart failure. I told him over and over how he was a good boy and how much I loved him.
    I rescued a pup before I left San Diego this past summer and he is everything to me. He’s licked tears off my face… curled up tight behind my back on the bed.. and lets me know with his light brown eyes, like Kito did after I lost Jake, that Kito loved me, too. Dogs are special, I hope you are gradually finding peace and know Eko loved the shit out of you 🙂 Take care, and lots of love to your family and especially to Penny.

  109. Wendy Daly says:

    We lost our 20 month old ridgeback, Pippa, just before Christmas to kidney disease and we were going through the same emotions as you. How do we go on?My husband came across your video of you remembering Eko and it really touched my heart. We are both sorry for your loss and we know your pain. You have actually made us feel strong enough again to consider bringing another ridgeback into our family after watching you and Emily bringing Zero home. I’m looking forward to seeing what he and Penny get up to. Much love to you and Emily, Penny and Zero x

  110. So sad. We get no guarantees about the quantity of time we get with our pups, so we can only do our best to give them the best quality time we can. It’s not easy getting another dog, but it’s certainly worthwhile.

  111. dogdaz says:

    What a wonderful heartfelt tribute to an incredible soul.

  112. Steve & Brenda Giglio says:

    I haven’t watched your blog for awhile and I’m saddened and shocked at Eco’s passing. My wife and I are also blessed with two Ridgebacks in our life and I can’t imagine what it would be like without them. Whiskey is our 3 year old 80 pound baby girl and Hunter is our 95 pound 14 month old baby boy. We also have two other dogs an 11 year old Miniature Schnauzer who is the boss of the house, and a six-year-old Westie, both males. These two 20 pound Terriers are wonderful, energetic, smart and loving puppies but they are nothing compared to owning a Ridgeback. Bringing these two beautiful hound dogs into our home and into our lives changed us forever! We wish you both well and please give Penny and Zero a big hug and a kiss for us, another Ridgeback family from Gloucester Massachusetts.

  113. Thanks for the kind words – they help fill me up and encourage me to keep going.

  114. Gina Vaughn says:

    I have followed your blog from the beginning, enjoying the humor and helpful tips. I sobbed when I learned of Eko’s passing. My Ridgeback/Shepherd mix, Dougie, is my very best friend and the light of my life. Recently, I have learned that our time together may be coming to an end. Thank you for sharing your grief with me. Strangely, I felt less afraid after watching your videos and learning about how Eko died. I am a more courageous and loving person because of my Dougie. I will embrace my great honor to love him and make him comfortable in the months ahead. I wish you, Emily, and Penny many fun filled days ahead. Eko lives within you and I thank you both for all that you have shared.

  115. Glad we could help in some small way during an incredibly difficult time. Give Dougie a hug for us.

  116. craig massey says:

    It’s a real shock to hear you lost Eko I haven’t watched your video diaries for a while, my heart goes out to you. I started watching your clips not long after our own Ridgeback died after a year long battle with cancer he was also young and filled out lives with so much love but because of your diaries we decided we couldn’t live without a Ridgeback so another puppy was sought after months of looking and now our life is busy with Dex.
    So a big thank you to you penny and of course beautiful Eko .
    Evesham UK

  117. Karen Adam says:

    I lost my Rhodesian girl of 12 years a few days ago. I am hurting, so much. The pain is a testament to the love these dogs bring. They are the most wonderful breed. I understand your hurt and send you my empathy and understanding. I found your videos after searching for reminders of their beauty and zest. Thank you for sharing and helping me through my grief. Much love to you and yours.

  118. Erik Gustafsson says:

    This made me cry. Man’s best friend is the dog.

  119. Julia says:

    I just happened upon your blog as we are researching getting a ridgeback. We recently lost our 3 yr old daughter to Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood. So to find your story of Eko during my grief journey feels like a sign❤️ So many of your words about grief ring true to me. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  120. I’m glad to know I could offer some modicum of comfort during an impossibly difficult time.

  121. […] led me across the continent, pointed me down the wedding aisle, lifted me to blissful heights, dragged me through hell, and showed me the way out.  That needle is love. Not the love shared between people, or even the […]

  122. Laura says:

    I needed to read this! I lost my Rhodi mix on Friday. I’m grief stricken. She was my best friend for 14 years. I held her a she went. She was so dignified and kind even in death. I always felt like she could see my soul and read my mind. I want my friend back. I miss her so. I hope that you are doing well, and moving through your grief. Please tell me it lessens some over time. Thanks for sharing this. My baby Bean looked so much like your Echo. They are the best dogs!

  123. It gets better at first due to the simple fact it can’t get worse. It will hurt and hurt and hurt some more. And I discovered that one day it still hurts, but it also makes you smile too. Best of luck on your journey.

  124. Rebecca Hyams says:

    Eko was a really beautiful boy and your bond priceless. I euthanised my beautiful RR girl last year – she was 15 years and 7 months….as soon as I knew she was in pain that was it….She died eating chicken soup!! As you know RR’s love food…still so much grief in my heart. I can’t bear to get another one as they won’t be her….I wonder how old Eko was – he looked so young….It’s utterly heartbreaking – feel like I’ve lost my shadow….she even came to work with me until we both retired!

  125. We should all be so lucky to live such a full life and go out doing what we love! But there is no easy time or way to lose your best friend. Eko was not yet 6. I still felt our best years were ahead of us. It still hurts every day. There’s no replacing Eko, but getting Zero was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I can’t imagine a better legacy for Eko’s enduring love and friendship than to pass it on to another.

  126. Stella MAIA says:

    I followed you and EKO during longtime and I just learned what’s happened to him.
    I just lost the mine (Rhodesian) Cadu, 7 months more after the veto found his lymphoma.
    He was only 7 yrs old and we lived a wonderful life together like you did with Eko and that’s the most important.
    The story you wrote is wonderful !
    Me, I have always his daughter, Ruby, doing very sad waiting for him since 18 days as Cadu died last april 2th.
    I wish you a very sweet way with your lovely woman and your other dog
    Something rows in hour heart after this kind of loss

  127. czechsix says:

    Just saw this via youtube.

    My condolences and sympathies, it’s never easy, nor should it be. Ridgebacks are pretty unique, and you guys had a great relationship. I’ve lost a few ridgebacks too, I remember them all, and I honor them.

    He had a great life, sorry it wasn’t longer, but it is as the fates will.

    Mina, our ridgeback, will have a howl in Eko’s memory, as will I.

  128. Thanks for the words of support and your kindness. We don’t get to choose how much time we have, but we can choose how we spend whatever time we’ve got. I can sleep easy knowing Eko and I gave it everything we had.

  129. smacbosch says:

    I am now a blubbering mess. This post speaks volumes of the love you shared and reminds me so much of how I miss my boy, Thor, who has been gone 3 years. I miss him every single day. I have been away from blogs for a while so I missed this when you originally posted. In January, my spouse joined our boy, Thor, beyond the Rainbow Bridge. What can I say, except cancer sucks. They now run across beaches and fields where I cannot follow yet. I so very sympathize with your pain.
    “Life goes on and something is always turning into something else. I now know this for sure: Love is all there is and love never dies. Love is energy and energy does not die; it cannot die. Einstein would tell you that it is a proven scientific fact. If it’s energy, it must live, although sometimes it changes form.” (from “Jack McAfghan: Reflections on Life with my Master” by Kate McGahan)

  130. Marc says:

    The feeling of immense loss is almost equal to the immense love I had for my beautiful Ridgeback Rocky. I lost him suddenly to cancer a couple of months ago and the devastation is just too much. I did have time with him and I gently held him as I cried him goodbye. As usual his last breath was pure faith and loyalty to the end as he licked my face and gave a last wag of his tail as his eyes closed. Although painful beyond belief my greatest act of love to him was not make him suffer, he was almost 8 years old.

    Rocky and Eko find each other and run together for ever – RIP.

  131. I type this through the blinding tears! What a wonderful gift of love Eko gave you…I always say the only flaw a dog has is that they don’t live long enough…to have it cut short for reasons unknown is even more heart breaking

  132. […] and you will lose him. You will lose yourself. The person you are will be gone. You will learn to face your fears, name them, and love them. The person you find will be me. It’s not fair, but the world is not […]

  133. […] her spirit would have chased lions. For me, Penny chased off far more frightening things.  After Eko’s sudden death my world went dark. Aphorisms like “If you’re going through hell, keep going” seem wise until […]

  134. Sonya Ainsworth Walker says:

    I buried my 18 year old Lab 2 months ago,3 years before that my 12 year old Blue Heeler-Blue Tick mix,the year before my 9 year old Lab that same year my 17 year old German Shorthair Pointer and my sweet dancer Gypsy Jean,each one of them took a piece of my heart. I still find myself overcome with emotion when I think about them. I miss each one of them everyday. All but one was a rescue. They showed up in my life by someone discarding them. I watched them a thought how someone gave up or abused a great dog. Eko will always be with you. He knew he was loved as much as you knew he loved you.

  135. David says:

    I lost my dog to cancer this week. This blog really touched home. Especially the part about being by each other’s side. Thank you for your beautiful writing.

  136. Declan McCaul says:

    Very sad to hear about he passing of Eko. He was a beautiful dog … almost as beautiful as mine. The love still shines on though.

  137. […] I never saw Eko die. I never saw him grow old and gray. I saw him bounding joyfully towards me across the beach one day and then I never saw him again. […]

  138. Sarah Pressl says:

    Will, I read this, alone in my office, with tears running down my face. It sounds so much like the day I lost my Sugar and my heart is breaking all over again for you. Thank you. Thank you for showing me that this grief is acceptable and worth sharing. Sugar’s birthday is approaching and lately the days have been especially hard for me, even though she has been gone for so long. I admire your courage in sharing these words and in staring down the tempest inside of you. Keep up the good work.

  139. I’m of the mind we should not only accept grief, but openly embrace it. It’s hard – the day you lose them, a year later, and forever. But I wouldn’t trade the pain for anything – I earned it and I own it as best I can each day.

  140. billy taylor says:

    Soul mates are rare in this world.

  141. law27 says:

    My Ridgeback (also called Eko) died yesterday. He was eleven and a half but still fairly fit, so it came as a shock when he left us. I’ve been a sobbing mess since he passed. Reading your blog has been a great comfort… thank you!

  142. Catherine Smith says:

    I have a ridgeback cross called missey and the love these dogs give are unconditional.your beautiful dog is walking beside you even now healing your pain .eko is your warrior .you will heal in time and see signs he is still with you .turn you pain too love and you will heal.

  143. Amy says:

    I read your story in my office this morning with tears running down my face as well…lost my boy only a few months ago and our stories are so similar. thanks for putting into words what I couldn’t. We have a new pup, a Penny, if you will, they are so similar! At times I am angry at him for trying to get in my heart, like you’re not HIM, but he’s so himself and special and amazing. Your grief and pain are real and raw and wow. thank you for sharing.

    1. The temptation is to run, hide and grieve in the shadows. I’ve shared so much light and joy on this blog, but to do justice to who our dogs are, I knew I must also share the darkness and devastation we each must face.

  144. Will (MarkingOurTerritory.com) says:

    I’m glad to know that in some small way I could help during an impossibly tough time. The road back entails a lot of suffering, but by opening your heart again you’ve done the best thing possible. What you discover with the new pup won’t be what you had with the old, and that’s a good thing.

    1. Thanks for the idea, I’ll have to do that. Given my current state I’ll likely start bawling when I read the first word! But I know how lucky I am to have such a wonderful time capsule of a life-changing adventure.

  145. Chuck and Angela Roeth says:

    Even before our best boy Jumaane died, I had watched your tribute to Eko and cried for y’alls broken hearts. On Friday, March 9, 2018 we sent him off for his final sleep. He had neoplastic lung cancer. We had a hospice vet come to our house so that he could be with us for his final breath. As I write this, I am crying so hard. I just can’t believe he’s gone, but I know he’s resting now. He was breathing so hard. He followed me around everywhere in this house for 10 years, he never wanted me out of his sight. My husband and I are inconsolable.

  146. Will (MarkingOurTerritory.com) says:

    We never get enough time and there is no good ending, but you made the most of the time you have and gave your best to him. It’s all we can ever do. Sending lots of love.

  147. Sarah says:

    I love your words because you capture our complex and intense feelings most of us do not have the ability to put down on paper. You speak for yourself, for Eko but in doing so you speak for the many of us who rail against our loss, the unfairness of it, the pain, the bitterness, the confusion, the sere future of life-without.

    I love your wife, who has to be the most insightful person ever. “You are my Eko.”

    We have lost a dog. We have other dogs, none of whom are that dog or should be, but each unique in his and her own way. We also foster for rescues, and they are our granddogchildren — welcome to stay while mom and dad go away for the weekend or on vacation, recipients of gifts and treats. We never really cast them adrift but rather neurotically stay in their orbit….one of those fosters, Bandit, died last week. Two years old, possibly poison from a plant in the municipal park, but the vets don’t know. His adoptive parents spared no expense to save him in the vet hospital ICU–only to lose him. Our sorrow is boundless — our handsome, loving, goofy little puppy turned into a handsome, loving, goofy HUGE dog who adored his human guardians and their baby. The parents laughingly confided that Bandit was the ‘best parent’ always rushing to the baby’s side every time she made any sound….they delighted us with pictures of this HUGE dog playing patty-cake and giving kisses to their little girl. They are too broken to find words. I know the sorrow eases, but that is little comfort. I find your words, the words of someone who has suffered the loss of a dog, the loss of his brother’s dog, help immensely — maybe because you capture our anguish so exactly.

    Thank you for your blog and its honesty — the highs and lows, the joys and pain.

  148. Will (MarkingOurTerritory.com) says:

    Thanks so much for all the encouragement! Means a lot to know there are so many people who can empathize with the brightest moments, and the darkest. No words and no comfort can take away the pain, but it means a lot to know that in some small measure my posts can remind you that the high price we pay is nothing compared to the love we experience.

  149. Cristina says:

    It’s a little strange to have your own feelings described so well by another person that you never met. My Rhodesian Ridgeback died 7 years ago, his girlfriend almost 5 years ago, and I still miss them. I find myself talking to them once in a while. I found your blog during one of my episodes of “God, I wish I can hold them once again”. When I read your words they hit me hard, especially because my story with my two Rhodesian Ridgebacks is so similar to yours. My first RR came into my life in about the same circumstances. We were unseparable. We understood each other just by looking into each others eyes. I thought my mother was crazy when it happened first – he could feel when I got sick even if I was away from home, so he got depressed. The second and third time could not have been a coincidence. Nor the fact that (call me crazy, but I am not a liar) I felt/knew they were gone. I was away for a couple of days when each of them died – my boy died around 5 am and the girl around 7 am. When the boy died I felt his nose rubbing against mine while sleeping. I jumped out of bed knowing he was gone and felt my world was sinking. When the girl died I woke up crying because I saw in a dream exactly how she was going to be found. An hour later the phone rang and before the sitter could build up the courage to tell me anything I said “I know what happened, just tell me how you found her”. The man was stunned. Two weeks before I had run a full blood panel on her, and her test looked like one of a marathon runner. Both were gone too soon and so suddden. On top of everything I couldn’t help this terrible feeling of guilt: “I wasn’t there. I should have done more. I should have spent more time with them.” – endless rumination on what I should have done. Nevermind what happened, I still don’t know exactly. The thing is they were still young (8 and 6) and in perfect health, apparently. And for some reason their time was up, and I was crushed.
    I have 5 other dogs now, but I chose to rescue or foster. My way of honoring their memory. I love them very much, but RRs are the best and will always have a special place in my heart. I hope when my time comes they will wait for me on the other side – if they don’t, it means I didn’t end up in heaven. Please excuse my eventual English mistakes – it’s not my first language and I got a little too emotional. Thank you for sharing your story. I did not get much support from some people when I lost my dogs and knowing that there are still a lot of people out there who feel the same about animals gives me hope for humanity. You and your wife are wonderful people and the way you raise your children makes me again hopeful.

  150. jjmiller531 says:

    I got my first Ridgeback in January of 2018. I went online before and watched all the videos I could find on them. Yours were some of them. I can’t fathom the pain you suffered when you heard the news that Echo was gone. I have had Lulu now for 14 months and she is such a part of me and me of her. She follows me everywhere and today even at the dog park I saw another side of her. Jealousy. She was playing nicely with a bunch of dogs which included a young Golden Retriever. The Retriever came over to me and I started petting her and she was rubbing against me when Lulu came over and started barking at her and pushing her away. It was so funny. But this is Lulu. I come home from work and she greets me at the door with kisses and hugs and then follows me into the bedroom and sits with me while I change. She is my best friend. We do everything together. I hope that we have as many years together as possible. But when that time comes, no matter how old she is, it will not ease the pain I will feel. RIP Eko.

  151. Ed says:

    I found my Ellie, a 4 year old Ridgeback rescue, on the side of the road. When I brought her home my daughter and I spent the evening picking ticks off of her. We spent the next 7 years together. She was a beautiful spirit. A gift from God that loved everyone. I will see her some day at the Rainbow Bridge with her loving eyes looking into mine and her paw up begging me to pet and love her. In the meantime I hope the pain of her lose lessens. It hasn’t in the 4 months since her death. I feel the pain of all those that have come together on this page. I must say that I would go through this pain again for the love of my Ellie.

  152. Dominic Gray says:

    You poor,poor chap.I follow your programme on a regular basis but only understood today how Eko departed so suddenly.We are on RR number 6.The Rolls Royce of dogs.The best,most loyal ,funniest companions of my life.Remember ‘desians never die.They live on for ever in our hearts and minds.Thanks for sharing so generously your wonderful moments.
    We left Gods own country 58 years ago but Candy is still with us.God bless you all.Dominic

  153. Meghan says:

    This story brought memories of my first ridgeback because he died quite suddenly and unexpectingly as well. My mom let him outside in our backyard to go to the bathroom and instead of running off on to the grass he just laid down on the deck. My mom went over to him and realized something was very wrong and sat with him as he closed his eyes for the last time. She brought him to the vet but it was too late. He was only 6 years old. I have 2 more dogs now, one of which is another ridgeback, but i still think about my first ridgeback almost everyday. I had a lab growing up who died of old age and while losing a pet is never easy i think it’a much harder when it happens when theyre young. I never got to say bye to my first ridgeback either which still hurts me to this day, 7 years later.

    Rest in peace beautiful ridgebacks.

  154. Ed says:

    My Ellie passed in much the same way. Laid down and went to sleep. Very peaceful and very sad.

  155. thorsten says:

    Of my 2 Ridgebacks I lost my first one 9 Mozhns ago, and my 2nd one one Month ago. For me, Life simply came to a grinding halt …

  156. Nick Howard says:

    I’ve watched all your youtube videos and usually had my RR Lucas by my side. I remember the feeling of fear when I watched your grieve for Eko and tears came down my face one day knowing I’d have to deal with the same. That day came on the 12th September this year and having to say goodbye to my boy was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. I don’t have any family and since splitting from my partner 6 years ago it has literally just been me and him. To say I’m lost would be an understatement, he was much more than a dog to me, he was my best friend and we spent almost every hour of every day together. He was 11 years and 3 months and had suffered for the last few years with terrible ear infections, the last one was so bad nothing but major surgery which involved removing his ear drum to which the vet said due to his age was a big operation to put him through and it might be time. His last two days he was suffering badly and lost all balance to the point he couldn’t sit up without falling to either side. Having to lift him into the car for that final trip to the vets will haunt me forever. I’m glad he’s no longer suffering and I’m also glad I was there with him till the very end, but jeez, the pain and loneliness I’m left with feels like it will never end.

  157. tal says:

    just finish watching your YouTube about losing Eko
    and it brought all the memories of our RR Zulu that we lost in June 2019
    we are still not recovered from that. it was unexpected and a total shock.
    thanks for sharing

  158. Kerry says:

    My RR boy Cy passed suddenly and unexpectedly in May this year, he was one of the loves of my life and I miss him terribly.
    I lost both of my children to years apart and if it wasn’t for Cy and his sister Taja a Mastiff/Dane I truly don’t think I’d still be here. Cy had this uncanny way of knowing what I was thinking and when through grief and loss of my boys I would be having a moment there would be Cy beside me baring witness to my pain and suffering, in a way no human has ever been able too. He would place his head or paw in my lap with those wonderful ridgy eyes searching my face, and wouldn’t allow me to cry, and if I was he would get up in my face and literally lick the tears from my face until I stopped crying and/or began laughing. Invariably he would continue in his goofy way or insist on a walk and I would forget about crying or being sad. There has never been a person who has ever been able to cut through my grief as this dog was able too.
    It would take me all day to go over all the special qualities that made him the dog he was. The three of us went through so much together and on many adventures that took us through most parts of Australia, through mountains, rainforests, perfect beaches and congested cities, to eventually ending up in Tasmania. He was my protector, and guardian, mate and friend and he never took his eyes off me. He was one of a kind, so special, I loved him dearly.
    I now have Buddha Boi my new RR pup, he’s as loving and focused on me as he is on this new forever unfolding world that continues to invitingly beckon his discovery of every moment of everyday. I know we have many adventures ahead of us and look forward to them together. He won’t replace Cy, he’s his own dog, with his own personality.
    I miss Cy everyday and will never ever forget the amazing dog he was or how much I loved him or the amazing unconditional love he gave to me.
    Our RR’s past and present are and were truly awesome remarkable wonderful animals ~
    In Love and Light…

  159. Elle says:

    We lost our most wonderful Dylan, in May this year. He had to be put to sleep and was only 1.5 years old. I have never experienced such pain in my life, 6 months later he is in my thoughts every day. I loved him immensely and I don’t ever remember crying like I did when we had to have him sent over the rainbow. I trusted him with my life and he was my best friend, I’ll never have another like him.

    Your story is incredible and I am so sorry for your loss. Loosing an animal can be just as painful as a human, they are our family with fur and Waggy tails, after all. I know in time I will be ok, but even now months later I have moments where I just sob and sob.

    Thank you, x

  160. Matthew says:

    I just had to put to rest my 9.5 year old Ridgeback, Bariki. Watching him struggle in his last breath, I cannot stop crying hysterically and uncontrollably. I’m spiraling into that dark place. I dreaded this day coming. Sometimes it feels like people do not understand how powerful the bond is between a person and their dog. I’m broken. Shattered. Your post and video made me feel like someone understood how completely wrecked the heart can feel when your best friend is no longer here. Thank you.

  161. Nobody can understand this feeling if you don’t live it. I am a mother, I have 3 daughters, and I can tell you I love my dog like another son. All the people think I am crazy, it doesn’t matter. I will love my sweet “WILL” forever. They give us everything without ask for nothing. I am sure there aren’t humans like them. I am sorry for your lost. I can not imagine how you stood up again after this. I don’t imagine a life without my Will. Thanks! To all these beautiful dogs, we really don’t deserve all this love.

  162. RL Dittmamm says:

    I share your heartache. Six months ago I had a similar loss and still hurt from it. I’m very sorry for your loss, but to read of your affection for your friend brings me some solace to know that others have found such friendship with a 4 legged friend. Thank you and I wish you the best going forward.

  163. LOUISE WALLACE says:

    …thankyou from my broken heart to your broken heart for being so able to express such unimagineable pain & desolation …when i lost my lovely little Elsa at only 18 mnths young to cancer i wrote “did you hear that sound?…that was my heart shattering into a million tiny pieces…”…i still have days like that…but there are these 3 lovely furry friends who have more pieces of my heart…so i just keep on loving & laughing with them…we must…it is our obligation to all of our beautiful K9s that stole our hearts before…
    …& thankyou so much for telling Eko’s story…i really needed to know what happened…it does seem to help even when it doesnt make any sense in our pain…

  164. Rodrigo says:

    I read your sorrow and my indelible memories hit once again like a sledge hammer: I rescued a pair of RRs, ages 3 (F) and 6 (M).

    Fast forward 6 years later (March 2019) and I was putting down Saba at the tender age of 9; bone cancer. We were blessed she led a rather normal life for 18 months after being diagnosed, against all odds.

    A year later, I had to help Rago, a month shy of 13. He had damage to his nerves on the hind quarters (before I rescued him, he was hit by a car) and, though you could see the progression of the damage over the years, it really became an issue in the span of 2 weeks: he basically gave out twice just half a block from the house, unable to walk. I carried him back. I refused to let him suffer or put him on a diet of pain killers just to selfishly keep him company.

    In both instances, that drive to the vet was excruciating; held them in my arms till their last breath.

    It scars your soul forever, but I keep going back to those happy times and wholeheartedly can say I was blessed. An absolute privilege.

  165. Jim Dale says:

    Just want to say thank you for your very honest and “spot on” description of the impact of loosing your wingman.
    I put my best friend to sleep for almost 14 years ago and it still haunts me. We had almost 12 years together and I still miss him but I am so thankfull that we met when we did. He was a dog’s dog, he always had my back and whatever I did he did.
    Life has moved on and I now have a family, a house and a great career. I just wish he could have been here, he would’ve loved the house and garden and more than anything he would have deserved it.
    I laugh when I look at the behaviour of our young Ridgeback, he will be 2 in August but he just perfect, be it unbelievably spoilt but loved and cherished to the moon and back.

    Your words in the text describing how you got Echo back from god….. absolutely perfect .



  166. […] Four years ago today, a dog died and took a boy’s heart with him. […]

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