I first fell in love with Rhodesian Ridgeback's when I was about 12 - I met a puppy in a dogpark, and my heart melted. The ears, the mohawk, the African History of the breed. I grew up knowing that would be the type of dog I wanted when I was an adult.
Sean and I got Ilala 4 months after we were married. This week, we let her cross the rainbow bridge. She was named after the ferry that goes up and down lake Malawi - an African Name, for an African dog. She was the queen of the dickens - our neighbourhood in Vancouver - where we first lived when we were newly weds. As long as we have been a family, we have had this wonderful dog. She was wrinkly and adorable.
As soon as we got her, we knew we had a character. She would refuse to walk in directions that she didn't want to go. She would cuddle, but only on her own prerogative. It was clear that she was so intelligent - able to train easily, enjoyed urban agility, and attending church with us. I remember how at a few weeks old, she jumped off the dock at Trout Lake, stunned herself, and I though she would never swim again. At a year and a half, she chased a stick into the ocean, and from there on, I had a swimming ridgeback!!! What an incredibly athletic dog she was - loved getting "up on things," and i remember a 23km mountain bike ride I did with her when we moved to Squamish, she could jump incredible heights, and run like mad in the sand. When she played, she would stalk and pounce, like a true lion hunter. You knew spring was in the air, when she would stop to appreciate and roll in the grass.
Ilala had this personality that was unique. She would sit on the couch like a human, and look at us like she was saying - "ok, here we are, all sitting on the couch looking at each other. what's next?" When she was excited or timid or guilty, she would roll her lips back into a smile. She could hug people, and she loved my dad. While she was anywhere between 80-100 lbs, she could roll herself into a donut; even so small that she could be on our bed, without us noticing she is there. She often used her paw as a pillow.
When Arrow joined us - we got him, because we thought we would only have a year left with Ilala - she would put her paw and head on him to calm him down. They would curl up together like twins, and chase each other on the trails. He would bark outside, she would bark inside. He is a good leash walker, she is a terrible leash walker. He loves to cuddle, she prefers to in her own space. The perfect opposites.
The adventures you have come with us on, and the smiles you left us. When you rested your head on the table, and got under our feet. Even in your grumpy moments you were still perfect.
You have given us so much. We will love you forever.