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A Brooklyn Boy

photoA blog by its nature is a revealing, intimate view into someone’s every day life – some would say too intimate, and many more would say its the end of civilization as we know it. Not with a bang, or a whimper, but with lots of over-sharing until we’re all sick of each other.

But as much as we share, there’s a lot we leave out. Lifestyle blogs in general, and food blogs in particular are often cited as the worst offenders. Transparently opaque, we filter images and stories to present a just so life. While I’m always honest about my stumbles in the kitchen, I’m selective about whatever private troubles I bring into my posts. Regularly telling people about your breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be personal enough so I always reserve the right to leave some things out.

That changed for me this weekend, when I lost Orfeo, my sweet pup of 13 years. His illness came on suddenly, so I’ve spent the last few days apologizing for last minute cancellations and no-shows while I focused all my energy on making him as comfortable as possible, showing him all the love I wouldn’t be able to give him in the years ahead, and being strong enough to let him go (he was stronger). What I hated was how apologetic and even embarrassed I felt while this was going on. I worried that the person I was making excuses to, wondered what all the fuss was about. I soon realized there were people who appreciate what that bond is like and people who didn’t quite understand how important our animals become to us. Luckily, I now know that I have a lot more of the former in my life.

In what now seems like a different city, my sister and I ordered Orfeo (forms and all) from a small family-owned pet store on Court Street that had been there for years. A couple of months later, we went back to pick him up and there he was in the window – his black face peeking out of snowy piles of shredded paper. That first night he was too scared to go from one kitchen tile to another, but eventually he did and then he took over the whole house and everyone in it. The kitchen remained his favorite spot and he would watch closely when I was cooking. I told myself he was helping though he was probably waiting for me to drop something and so he could pounce. That’s when we started calling him Fatatouille.

I’ve read stories of people taking their dogs on cross country, nature adventures to say goodbye. That’s lovely but it wasn’t necessary with Orfeo because Orfeo loved Brooklyn. On trips home to Miami he might venture into the green lawns outside my mother’s house but he’d quickly return to the familiar sidewalks and asphalt. At home, he loved keeping watch from the window that looked out onto a busy corner, and he had an unerring gift for lifting his leg on someone’s front stoop the moment they were coming out of their house.

He loved visiting the flower shop where the wiseguys who hung out there would give him the milk bones he wasn’t allowed at home. The neighborhood was a little more tolerant then and if you took him into a store or deli, they only stopped you to say hello, or in the case of one Italian counterman – to sing him an aria or two. He waited in line with me at Sahadi’s a couple of times and stole a dark chocolate babka the night before Hurricane Irene – requiring an expensive late night call to the emergency vet. I still can’t pass by Shelsky’s without remembering Orfeo’s $68 babka. He loved stoop sales and pulled me to the Carroll Gardens farmer’s market every week, though I could never figure out how he knew when it was Sunday. It wasn’t until I tried to think of the places he might like to go again that I realized how many of his favorites spots were gone – the pet store, the wiseguy flower shop, the operatic deli. Whatever he may have been missing, it was enough just to have him home on his last day.

So for the sake of the next person who may feel foolish when they’ve spent hours crying over a dog, I’m writing this post to let them know that I cried when I lost my Orfeo. I cried my heart out.

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27 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is a lovely little tribute to him. Bless.

    9 April 2015
  2. Miriam #

    Sorry for the loss of your pup..RIP Orfeo

    9 April 2015
  3. Carolina Garcia-Johnson #

    I’m so sorry for your loss. They become your family and I get that. He was beautiful!

    9 April 2015
  4. Jorge Herrera #

    So sorry to hear about your loss….our pets are gifts from God and they need to be treasured as such. Jorge

    Date: Thu, 9 Apr 2015 14:40:11 +0000 To: texaspioneer2000@hotmail.com

    9 April 2015
  5. Isabel #

    Yes, they are part of the family. This week I’m puppy-sitting for my daughter who is away on vacation with her family. I’m already beginning to dread returning him to his family this weekend. I will miss him sorely. Rest in peace Orfeo. You had a wonderful life and a wonderful parent.

    9 April 2015
  6. What a sweet tribute. No matter how long they are with us it never feels like it’s enough, and it’s always so hard to say goodbye to such a constant companion. Orfeo sounds like he was a delightful little dog and that he had a marvelous life by your side.

    9 April 2015
    • hungrysofia #

      Thank you Elizabeth. I hope so.

      9 April 2015
  7. Angel (my parents were optimists) #

    Lovely writing. I’ve had to put to sleep two Rhodesian Ridgebacks (Curly and Ruff) after 12 and 13 years respectively and cried and mourned like the sentimental man they helped create. A few months after Ruff, another RR came into my life. Ringo Star (a white star on his chest) seems to know their legacy and habits as he always lays his head on top of my feet when I’m sitting.
    I couldn’t imagine my life without a dog. How boring and lonely that would be. Give yourself some time and then go out and let a new friend capture your heart.

    9 April 2015
    • hungrysofia #

      Thank you Angel. Sorry for your loss but happy Ringo Star found you. We still have Orfeo’s partner in crime Fanny to look after so that’s been comforting.

      9 April 2015
  8. cubana1946 #

    I am so sorry for the loss of your precious Orfeo. I would like to quote the following: “To make Heaven the perfect resting place for loved ones we adore, God made sure those Pearly Gates contained a “doggy door””.

    9 April 2015
    • hungrysofia #

      That is very sweet. Thank you.

      9 April 2015
  9. lorithenaz #

    So sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this post with us. My husband already had a small dog when I met him. I have grown so attached to our dog and love the little guy so much. I didn’t even know him from the start so I can only imagine how strong your bond and connection to Orfeo was. Keep writing!

    9 April 2015
    • hungrysofia #

      I think the bond comes from just taking care of them and having them be the best part of your everyday. It sounds like both man and dog are lucky you came along:)

      9 April 2015
  10. Margarita #

    What a cutie! I can tell from this photo why you miss him.

    9 April 2015
  11. When I lose Maizy, I won’t be ashamed to admit that I cry my eyes out. Our pets become so much a part of our life that their loss is as significant as some other losses.

    9 April 2015
  12. Rose #

    Much love to you. We love our four-legged relatives and they love us back unconditionally. I lost my dear cat Lluvia that i had for 14 years and I too, cried my eyes out .. Know you have a little angel on the other side, watching you and eating all that dark chocolate babka now without consequence!

    9 April 2015
    • hungrysofia #

      HA! He did love that babka…So sorry about Lluvia. I keep telling myself it’s the price we pay for all the love they give us.

      9 April 2015
  13. Ana M Oyarzun #

    So sorry for your’s and Camy’s loss . He was lucky to have you both! Congratulations on being nominated for the James Beard Award, VERY much deserved! All my love,

    Ana

    >

    9 April 2015
  14. divinePeach #

    Sorry for your loss

    10 April 2015
  15. A touching tribute to an obviously much loved companion. He is waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge where you will again be together!

    11 April 2015
  16. adorable xxx ❤

    12 April 2015
  17. My heart is breaking for you right now! While I’ve not lost a pup before, I’ve had to put my cat down and it is absolutely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. They are family, friends, and our best confidants. I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. ❤

    13 April 2015
    • hungrysofia #

      Thank you.

      15 April 2015
  18. hungrysofia #

    Hello, Thank you for my interest in my site. I saw that you reblogged my post A Brooklyn Boy. Given its personal nature, I’d like to ask that you remove it from your site. Thank you. -HS

    15 April 2015
  19. I can completely relate to this – dogs are the best friends in the whole world! So sorry for this loss you’ve endured.

    19 April 2015
  20. Ytmar #

    Hola. Accept my condolences. I lost my Yorkie this past December 2016. My Archie was my one and only love, because they love you like nobody else will: unconditionally, just as you are, no ifs or buts. I feel your pain.

    20 April 2017
    • hungrysofia #

      Thank you for your kinds words and please accept my condolences for Archie. It’s a terrible loss because as you said, they love us like no one else can, but keep reminding yourself how lucky we are to have had them.

      20 April 2017

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