posted in: Life, Memories 33 comments

One of my earliest memories is that of me falling onto the dog. We called him Raffy, our toddlerspeak twisting his real name, Rufus. He was black, with patches of white and light brown on his legs and face. A gentler soul could not be found. But on this morning, when two year old me fell on him, hard, he turned his head and growled, probably startled and pissed off. He didn’t bite, and I like to think it’s because he realized it was just me. Just a toddler whose brother pushed her onto the dog. 

Raffy wasn’t allowed into the house, and his favorite spot was right outside our front door, like a welcome mat. My crashing bodily into him was most definitely not welcomed. I don’t remember feeling fear. I had the utmost trust in Raffy.

It was a few years later when my Dad ran over his tail. His other favorite spot was under the car (Raffy, not my father), and we had gotten into the habit of checking that he wasn’t under there, or anywhere near it when we left the house. This one afternoon however, the most horrific wail pierced our quiet Sunday afternoon. We ran outside, and poor Raffy was walking away from the car slowly, the middle of his tail squished. Fortunately, no bones appeared to be broken. He did have a permanent bald patch on his tail as a reminder of his one-foolhardiness. 

When I was 10, Raffy was at the vet a lot. He was old (I think, because he’d been in my whole life up until then), and was sick a lot. I didn’t ask questions, I just wanted him to be better. He had an awful wound on his body (I can’t remember where), which had gotten infected repeatedly, and at one point, had maggots crawling in and around it (it was as gross as it sounds). Off to the vet he went again.

At 10, preoccupied with school and whatnot, I didn’t notice that Raffy hadn’t been around for a few days (I know. how does THAT happen?). I asked my mother on the way home from school, where’s Raffy? Is he still at the vet? She said without hesitation, oh no, he’s moved somewhere else. He’s at a farm for old dogs, where he’s very well taken care of.

I was crushed, but I was 10, I was preoccupied, I got over Raffy pretty quickly. It wasn’t until years later, that I knew that my mother had fabricated the farm story. Raffy had to be put down. I only grieved him years later. 

We had other dogs, other pets, come and go over the next few years. But none were like Raffy. He’s the dog who loved us the most. Even when he was a landing pad. Even when his tail was run over. Even when we had to send him off to a farm for old dogs. 

I miss you, pal. 

(I have no photos of Raffy. That makes me sad.)


Who was your first pet?

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and DrGreene.com. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • November 10, 2014 Vanessa D.

    When I was growing up we had a Saint Bernard. We would sit on him like he was our own personal rid on toy and he took it all. Much like you, one day I noticed I hadn’t seen him in a while and asked my mom where he was.
    Vanessa D. recently wrote…The Great Fruit Fly Invasion of ’14My Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      Aw, he sounds like a sweet dog.

  • November 10, 2014 Janine Huldie

    We had two dogs growing up, too. One also had to be put to sleep and I still remember that day when I came home from school (I was also probably around the age of 10) and it was quiet with no dog to bark or greet me at the door. Funny what you do remember from that time, but still that memory sticks.
    Janine Huldie recently wrote…The Princesses Love Miss Humblebee’s AcademyMy Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      Losing Raffy does stick to me because he was our first real pet. Sigh.

  • November 10, 2014 Kerstin

    What a sweet story. I love that you have that memory! There will be times for another dog in your life, and can’t you just see your kids pushing each other onto him? 😉 xox
    Kerstin recently wrote…Auer Life – It’s a Blogoversary!My Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      We totally want to get a dog (or gasp, dogs) for when the kids are older, and when we live in an actual house with a backyard. I am sure there will be dog riding and such, hah!

  • November 10, 2014 Robbie

    Raffy sounds like wonderful dog. I can see why you still miss him. 🙁

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      He was. He was such a gentle soul.

  • November 10, 2014 Allie

    Oh poor Raffy! Is there nothing like kids and their dogs? I can’t wait to get one…well, I actually CAN because I know how much work they are, but I definitely want one for our family. My first dog was a Beagle named Spakie. We lived on Spak Rd and named the dog after it. Weird, I know but I was 2. She was the VERY best dog and is still buried in the backyard of that house where my dad and stepmom still live. We talk about her all the time.
    Allie recently wrote…The Rundown – Pushing My ButtonsMy Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      Awwww. What a great memory. I want to get a dog for the kids too, when they’re older. When THEY can actually do all the feeding, walking etc!

  • November 11, 2014 Kim

    Raffy sounds like a great friend. I had two dogs growing up (at different times) and another after I got married. They were all wonderful and still I miss them all. Pets do become such a part of our lives and families.
    Kim recently wrote…It Would Have BeenMy Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      They absolutely do become part of the family.

  • November 11, 2014 Ann

    Oh, how sad. I have the same sad type of tale too. Our dog Thomas, was a big, rambunctious golden retriever. I was only 4 or 5 & he was bigger than me as I recall. One day he “went to the farm” as my mom told me. Just like you, it took years to realize just where he went.
    Ann recently wrote…Just Right by PurinaMy Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      Aw, I’m sorry. I guess it’s good in a way, to not know the truth until we were older, and probably better equipped to handle it.

  • My first pet was a big, gentle Germany Shepherd called Jane. We bought her in Zaire (now Congo) and she came back to Belgium with us. We both found it difficult to adapt to Belgium after the warmth of Africa. I’ll always remember how afraid she was of snow. She died when I was 14 but I still really miss her.
    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes recently wrote…Child’s play or how to wreak havoc with your mother’s scheduleMy Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      Aw, Jane. Love that you have that time with her.

  • November 11, 2014 Courtney

    We have Bella right now and she’s so good with the kids. She and my 1yo are best buds…probably because he’s the most willing to share food with her. I don’t even want to think about having the farm conversation with them later in life.
    Courtney recently wrote…Teaching Your Kids to CodeMy Profile

    • November 11, 2014 NJ

      Aw… Raffy sounds like a great dog! I have really fond memories of my childhood dogs too. We had Max and then Buster.

      I am sorry you don’t have any pictures of him.
      NJ recently wrote…On Roses And Flowers In Vintage BottlesMy Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      Aw, that’s so sweet!

  • November 11, 2014 tracy

    Awww, pets are amazing. My girls want a dog – but oh my gosh I know I’ll be the majority care-giver and am not sure I can commit to that. But my gosh – the unconditional love!
    tracy recently wrote…10 Truths About The First Snow Of The SeasonMy Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      Oh, but all that space at the new house is practically screaming DOG! 🙂

  • November 11, 2014 Jennie Goutet

    This makes me very sad right at this particular moment.

    Poor Raffy.
    Jennie Goutet recently wrote…Hard Pressed, but not CrushedMy Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      I’m sorry for making you sad. 🙁

  • November 12, 2014 Tamara

    Aww! Poor Raffy.
    My first dog was a gentle soul too. And my parents made up a story about her too!
    Tamara recently wrote…A Toast To The Ones Who Make It Easier.My Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      Our parents, so kind, trying to spare us the brutal truth.

  • November 13, 2014 Rorybore

    awwww … and now I miss my Benji terribly!! I haven’t had another dog since we had to put him down because he was also driven over in the driveway by my step-father at the time. I was so crushed, AND so angry at my step dad. He was an amazing little dog, and I don’t have any pictures either. 🙁
    Rorybore recently wrote…WW: Pumpkin Pumpkin 2014My Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      Awww, I’m sorry about Benji.

  • November 14, 2014 My Inner Chick

    OOO, I wish you had a photo of Raffy.
    Such a sweet, identifiably story, Alison Lee. xx

    Ps. I am reading the stories in My Other Ex & LOVING them. Great writers! I have not gotten to yours yet. Can’t wait.

    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Australia, Amy Winehouse, & AspergersMy Profile

    • November 16, 2014 Alison

      I wish I did too! It makes me happy that you’re reading My Other Ex!

  • November 19, 2014 Tonya

    What a great memory! What a great dog! I can tell how much even after all these years you still miss him.
    Tonya recently wrote…Family TreeMy Profile

    • November 19, 2014 Alison

      I do! It’s been 28 years. I think of him regularly.

  • November 20, 2014 Rebecca

    It breaks my heart you have no photos of your beloved Raffy. I love your toddlerspeak name better than Rufus..even though Rufus is a great name too. Raffy sounds so resilient and special. “Doggy farm”…sad. I miss Raffy :[
    Rebecca recently wrote…Don’t Say the “C” Word – And Other House RulesMy Profile

    • November 20, 2014 Alison

      Rufus is just too common, isn’t it? He will forever be Raffy. Sigh.

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