One year of Ry

umzila kawulandelwa
9 min readMay 15, 2023

Oh my word! I cannot believe it’s been a year already!! How?! Where did the time go? Somehow it feels like Ry came home yesterday but in the same breath it feels like we’ve been together our whole lives!

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been a year already. I remember the day I first met him. A week before he came home. Those beautiful, beautiful eyes!! Oh that’s how he got me!

Would you look at those eyes!!

I don’t know if I’ve told this story before (I probably have), but I’ll tell it again cos I think it’s just so special!

The day I met Ry I hadn’t gone there looking for a dog. I’d gone to find a cat. I’d been told dogs were too much work I wouldn’t manage so to get a cat. I went with my nieces to the shelter and there was no cat that I felt for what I felt for Ry.

And here’s the thing. I know what’s meant for me by how it feels. I listen to my body a lot about anything and everything. If my body says no, it’s a no. And if it says yes, it’s always a resounding yes! Like my whole body has come together to say yes. Human design calls it a ‘full fuck yes!” for people like me.

Anyway my nieces were disappointed I didn’t find a cat cos they had been looking forward to me having one since they also have one. To console them, I said we could go check out the dogs. Just to see them and leave.

Off we went and I made it clear we just wanted to see the small dogs cos I thought the big dogs would scare my nieces who were 4 and 2yrs old then.

They started telling us about each dog as we walked past them. Most of them were excitedly barking away. They’d run to the fence, closer to us as we got to each kennel. And then there was Ry. My god. My heart. I remember that day SO vividly.

Ry didn’t run to the fence like most of the dogs did. He didn’t even bark at us. He just stared from a distance with those piercingly beautiful eyes. I made a note of him as we kept walking from kennel to kennel. Then we got to the end and no other dog had done to my heart what Ry had done to mine.

So I said, “I’ve found MY dog”. Yep. I’d already decided Ry was mine. I felt this magnetic pull towards him that still grips my heart to this day. It really felt like I had finally found a baby I never knew I had.

So they brought him out to the pet and play area so we could check each other out. They said we shouldn’t go to him. We should sit down, relax and let him come to us. Only if he wants to.

Ry walked straight to me and put his two little paws on me. My heart. This baby had stolen my heart!! LOL for me THAT was all the confirmation I needed to know him and I were meant to be.

I can’t explain it. All I know is it was a full fuck yes! from me. My WHOLE body said, YES. YES, THIS ONE!!! My sweet boy.

I completed his adoption forms that same day then let them know I’d only be able to fetch him the next Sunday as I had a trip planned that week. They said that was fine they’d get him ready to go home in the meantime.

That week was the longest week of my life! I couldn’t wait to bring this awesome baby home!

I spent the week wrecking my brain for a name. He was previously named Blade. I still loathe that name. Nothing about it screams love or warmth which is what I’m all about. So one day as I was driving the name ‘Ry’ came to mind (after the musician Ry X.) It was perfect cos Ry X is a musician my late boyfriend and I both loved.

Ry for me was a merging of my past and future together. It was my late boyfriend who helped me get over my fear of dogs. He absolutely LOVED dogs! I would have never entertained the thought of being a dog mom if it wasn’t for him. He planted the seed in my past and didn’t live long enough to see it germinate in my future. But here we are because of him. So Ry for me is truly an embodiment of everything my boyfriend left in me. Which is why Ry carries both our surnames too. He is my link between the past and the future. So poetic!

When they brought him out to me. He just followed me. He was super chilled on our drive home. We slept on my bed together and that just sealed the deal for us!

Ry has been attached to me from day one! I always joke and say he must remember me from another lifetime. Cos he came already scared of being away from me.

His first weekend at home I asked my helper to come watch him on a Saturday as I had class for some course I was taking then. My little boy cried ALL day!! That really broke my heart.

I didn’t realize he had become THAT attached to me already. That incident is why he now goes to daycare. He’s happier at daycare and doesn’t cry for me when he’s there.

Anyway, Ry and I were truly, TRULY meant to be. I just know it in my soul. I just know it in my body.

Many questioned why I’d get an older dog and not a puppy. But remember, I wasn’t even looking for a dog! I wanted a cat. But man. Ry chose me. Also now that I’ve seen how puppies behave, I’m glad I never had a puppy! I don’t think I have the brand of patience that puppies require. So yea, Ry and I? Totally meant to be!

Forever is not a thing. I’d know, the love of my life died 5yrs into our relationship. Forever is not a thing. So I’m not trying to make Ry live forever. No, I just want however long him and I have together, to be THE BEST years of our lives the same way the 5yrs with the love of my life were the best 5yrs of my life! “It’s the having not the keeping that is the treasure.”- (Jack Gilbert in his poem “The Lost Hotels of Paris.”)

I’m painfully aware of how short dogs’ lives are. And I know because already Ry is turning 8 this week, we have much lesser time now than we would have if we’d found each other when we were younger. And it breaks my heart that no matter how much time we have together, it will never be enough cos it’s not forever. That truly breaks my heart. When I love, I wish we could live forever just so we can just keep loving upon each other. Love is that delicious!

I am so in love with this boy!!! Oh my god he saved my life! I was battling with this crippling sadness and loneliness after my boyfriend passed away. Then Ry came along. And he said he could never replace his daddy but he could try make me happy again. And boy he has made me so happy!!!

I feel lighter since Ry came along. I always say he’s the gauze on my bleeding heart. He’s brought so much light and so much love into my life. And he loves me like I’m the world’s best hooman. I love how he can NEVER have enough of me.

Ry is my shadow. He follows me EVERYWHERE! Even when I’m in the shower he comes to the bathroom multiple times just to “check on me” I guess? He’s just such a sweet boy!!

He’s not excitable like puppies. He has this quiet energy that goes perfectly with me!! If I had to ask for a dog he would be the EXACT dog I’d ask for! He’s very chilled. Loves his mommy! Doesn’t ask for much just a whole lotta love. And mommy’s got tons of that for him! Lots, and lots of love.

Ry saved my life. I needed to love again without the complexities of dating after loss. Imagine having to convince a new guy I love him as much as I loved my late boyfriend? Navigating my relationship with my late boyfriend’s family + new man’s family. It was too much for me. I wouldn’t have managed.

Ry allowed me to love with reckless abandon with zero risk of getting heartbroken. Yea I know how Ry will break my heart but let’s not even think about that. It’s a warm, safe, harmless love that Ry and I share.

He’s my baby, my very own family. The one who regulates my nervous system and grounds me the way my late boyfriend’s energy did too. Ry LOVES physical contact between us. Something my late boyfriend was very fond of! In many ways having Ry has been healing.

I’m never lonely when I’m with him. I’m never short of love. I’m never cuddles starved. Although he quickly gets over cuddles I appreciate the time he really indulges me when I’m being needy. Also no way would my relationship with Ry work with a human being. It would be suffocating. So you see Ry’s love was a really safe, foolproof one.

I’ve really rediscovered myself through raising Ry. I wasn’t raised in a very affectionate family but I am very affectionate. My late boyfriend gave room for that version of me to thrive. Now Ry continues the work. I try and be affectionate with other people who are affectionate, but tbh it’s not a lot of people like that in my life. So thank god for Ry!

I feel like Ry is teaching me how to be a better version of myself. I’m softer cos of him. I’m a mom to his precious, vulnerable self. Taking care of him has made me softer. I don’t throw my toys after one night of bad sleep anymore. If you hear me cry about sleep deprivation know that I’m still not acting on those feelings. Which is a huge thing for me. Ry taught me restraint.

Also I think nothing truly exposes who a person is like taking care of a pet. They are vulnerable creatures. Even if you abused them they would still stay with you cos they are THAT vulnerable and helpless on their own. I love who Ry has revealed me to be. I am such a softie! I am gentle and tender with those I love. My love is soft and warm.

Ry fell sick about three weeks after he came home. He was in ICU being fed through a tube. It was an emotionally draining time for me and omg SO expensive. LOL I have no one else to thank but Bryanston Veterinary Hospital for single handedly bankrupting me last year! Ok I kid. Yes, the bills were steep but man. I would do that all over again in a heartbeat if it meant saving my little boy’s life. Those doctors are superheroes, man! Real life superheroes I tell you.

Anyway when I look at Ry now I see just how gigantic my love can be or rather, is. Ry was malnourished, under weight, his hair was very dull and thin. But now? What a difference love can make! Now he’s a happy and healthy boy! His locks are luscious!! One of his dad’s aunts is always saying she wants to eat whatever Ry eats if it’s going to make her hair look just as good! It has grown and it gorgeous!!

Seriously EVERY time people see pics of him or him in person they tell me how great he looks now! I am so damn proud of myself! I’ve always known I’m a lover but to see this real life transformation cos of my love? Man oh man!! I am so honoured I get to be his mommy in this lifetime. I seriously hope at the end of his life he looks back at his time as Ry and MY baby as the BEST years of his life!

Sleeping beauty

Honestly, how did I get so lucky?! Eternally grateful for this little boy. He saved my life and continues to every.single.day.

I promise to love and protect you my precious with everything I’ve got until my very last breath. And I hope I am there to see you take your last breath cos I could never forgive myself if you are the one to see me take my last breath. I love you so damn much!!!

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umzila kawulandelwa

I tell stories about my experience of being alive. Perpetually day dreaming of reading and writing by the beach