He knew.

By his serene state on my lap, he knew. Even before the doctor returned with his blood results, he knew.

He knew his time on this earth would soon be done. He knew his love, care, and service to our family was coming to a close. He knew we were really here at this place and in this moment for me to finally know what he’d known for awhile.

. . .

Rudy Dudeck was born somewhere and sometime on the streets of Chicago. That’s all his early records really indicate. He eventually made his way through the pet rescue system to Merrillville, Indiana, where we found him at a pet adoption day.

Over the next 12 years, he showed us all his terrier tenacity — never backing down from a challenge and always willing to protect his adoptive family at all cost. He also showed us the scars and fears he developed at his previous adoptive stops, leaving us to often wonder what he endured in those formative years that shaped his view of humans.

We Love You Rudy

And so we tried our best to show him he was loved. We would not repeat the treatment he’d once known. He was safe with us. And over the years, he returned to us those same expressions in the best ways he could — sometimes conditional and sometimes unconditional, but always available.

He sat with us in the darkest seasons of our life — through the years of infertility, adoption loss, and considerations of divorce — licking our tears away and remaining a very visible constant in our lives all the while. In many ways, his mere presence kept a bridge between Lindsay and me when everything else around us was crumbling — somehow teaching us that adopting another into your family doesn’t always lead to pain.

He’s shown me what affection for others, compassion for the broken, and exuberance of life means. Even now in his leaving, he’s leaving me inspired to extend more joy, goodness, and grace to those around me. No longer can someone persuade me that dogs will not be ready to greet us in heaven. Rudy — and the other dogs in my life for that matter — have all exhibited too many saintlike characteristics that only pour out of a powerful, holy source.

. . .

And now we know.

We know we were loved by you, Rudy, and that you felt ours in return.

In our sending you back to the gift giver, we know you will forever live on in our hearts. We know you offered us all you were created to give, and that you can now sprawl out on the lap of sweetest peace.

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