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Ralph(ie) Pie Jr. Markowski

2 years and three months ago, Darryl and I were preparing to foster a puppy for the rescue we work with (Home Free Animal Rescue). We had the crate and everything. The week we were expecting the puppy to arrive on transport, Jessica Rasmussen, a volunteer, dropped this photo into our rescue group:

She said that Ralph was 10.5 years old, and the owners, who were really relatives of his original owner, would take him to a shelter or take him out back if no one from Facebook grabbed him. One look at him and I knew he was coming home to us. Jessica said she would foster the puppy arriving so we could take Ralph. The puppy crate was swapped for a new bed from Petco and several days later, he was in our care.

We had two female rescue dogs, Tootsie (3 at the time) and Ginger (5 at the time), but we knew they loved other dogs, so as long as Ralph didn't mind them, they wouldn't mind him. The girls were completely enamored with their new brother, and Ralph was unbothered and disinterested in them. For the first few days, he slept.

At first, I thought we would foster him, but after seeing him sleep so much, I believed he was probably nearing the end of his life and just needed a place to be comfortable and stay for a few months. So we adopted him.

Well, I underestimated the magic of our Markowski household. A week or two into learning our home and realizing Darryl and I were his new mommy and daddy, our boy came alive. Whoever had him previously definitely walked him, because he loved walks, and being outside. The only time Ralph wouldn't go outside is when it was over 90 degrees. Rain, snow, freezing weather, our dude did not care. Humidity though? No. That is where he drew the line.

The girls learned hard and fast that he was a senior dog, and seniors do not like to be jumped on. Tootsie cannonballed Ralph when he was lying in our bed, and Ralph told her in dog language that she was never to do that again, and she didn't. As a matter of fact, both dogs became super careful and tiptoed around him, only warming up to laying by him a few months ago. He said he was the King once, and they got the message.

He came with us to glamping trips because after leaving him with a dogsitter who traumatized our entire trio (as well as Darryl and I), I didn't want to leave him again unless it was necessary. He came with one disability - blindness in one eye. He was also hard of hearing, but he was good if we pitched our voices loud enough. One of the magnificent things to watch was him learn to take cues from his sisters. After spending enough time with them, he knew by their behavior when it was time to eat, bark at people outside, go for walks, or ride.

In his 2.25 years with us, Ralph got to walk on beaches, go camping, and get visits from Grandma and Grandpa, aunts, and cousins. He also fell in love with two new dog sitters who learned quickly that you must put him to bed at night, or he will not stop barking in your face with his old man's breath.

Speaking of barking, apologies to all of our neighbors for the 3:00 am random barking bouts. We learned that because he couldn't see or hear very well, he would let off warning barks when he would go outside or off of our property.

I did the math. At an average of one walk per day, for the 2.25 years that we had him, we walked as a family of 5 at least 820 times. When he arrived at our door, he still had 820 walks left in him, and we all enjoyed every single one of them. He approached EVERYONE—well, almost everyone. If Ralph didn't want someone near us, they probably weren't good because he had a mayorial disposition—always up to meet someone new.

From day one, we knew he would break our hearts one day, but it was a small price to pay for the love and joy he brought. Every dog and every animal is worth it. They all deserve to feel loved and safe at least once.

We are SO grateful Jessica grabbed him from someone on Facebook; so grateful Home Free Animal Rescue claimed him as one of theirs and helped us vaccinate him, and for everyone who ever stopped to pet him. I believe in heaven, so we know he is in the best place he could be. Thank you, Ralph, for the gift of being your Rescue Mom and Dad. Love, Darryl & Janet

Note: Ralph was rescued by Home Free Animal Rescue if anyone would like to make a donation in his name.


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