I turned the calendar to October and there was a sticker, reminding me to give Rockwell his heart worm medicine. It's funny though, since he has been gone, the one we've missed has been Uma.
Uma was born on October 31, 1990 and we got her to raise for Guide Dogs on December 13, 1990. We sent her off to school in January of 1992 and she flunked out and came back to us at the end of May 1992. She passed away on June 17, 2005, three days before Rockwell was born, although we didn't know that at the time. She was one of eight puppies in the U litter and we were given the option of how we pronounced her name. We chose to say it like "Yuma". When she came back to us after she flunked school, we couldn't think of any other name to give her and indeed, she just always was Uma.
Uma came to work with me every day after she had her first basic immunizations. Rules were not strict at Guide Dogs - they were still deciding how to do things, after having only been in operation a couple of years here in Canada. Unlike Rockwell, she could amuse herself for hours under my desk and only chewed one client's purse. She did however like to chew paper and especially cardboard and so all the R-Kive boxes in my office had chewed corners with Tabasco dripped down what was left of them. Other than that and barking at a few of my regular clients for reasons only known to her, Uma fit right in to my work life and went absolutely everywhere with me in her little red and white jacket. When she failed school and came to live with us as a regular pet, I continued to take her to work although she couldn't carry on with me to the registry offices and other places we used to go.
When I went to school in England, Peter stayed here to work and he and Uma became best buddies. She turned 5 years of age in the year I was away and really came into her own as one of the world's best Labradors. In fact, this is what I hope for Rockwell, that as he matures, he will grow to be a really great dog too. Then, Uma continued to give us her best for the next almost ten years.
Her birthday was Halloween and every year that we had trick-or-treaters, we would tell the kids it was her birthday and the next year that they came around, they would chorus, "Happy birthday Uma!" I'd humiliate her by putting a tee-shirt on her but she refused to wear hats of any kind. She did however have a substantial wardrobe of scarves - the cotton cowboy kind - in a rainbow of colours and those she wore proudly, perhaps remembering the first year when she would wear the guide dog jacket. We would always put a scarf on her when company was coming and she quickly learned to connect the two, waiting by the door for hours after we put a scarf on her.
This is the first Halloween in 16 years that we won't have a dog to greet (or scare!) children at the door. Rockwell did a great job last year and I will miss a furry friend this year. Maybe our friend Logan from across the quad will come again and keep us company.