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A Eulogy for Garibaldi Rous

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It has been two weeks since Garibaldi Rous died so I guess I’d better get on with it and write his eulogy.

Monday, March 10th would have been Gari’s 4th birthday. I knew he was very sick but somehow I always thought he would make it to that day. Humans often die right after their birthdays, holding on until the milestone is met and then surrendering to the inevitable. I guess since capybaras don’t know when their birthday is, they don’t do that.

I get a lot of hate mail saying that capybaras “belong in the wild, they are not meant to be pets.” I don’t believe in a god or gods or that there is a pupose to the universe or anything in it. In my view of reality there is no external or supernatural force to “mean” for any animal to be a pet. I can say that Garibaldi was born in captivity, the “wild,” whatever that means, was never an option for him. Due to his circumstances, there were three possibilities: he could be a pet, he could live in a zoo or he could never have been born.

The recent controversy and outrage about the fate of a young, healthy giraffe named Marius  at a zoo in Copenhagen finally brings some attention to the fact that zoos are not always the animal welfare organizations they pretend to be. Despite being young, healthy and bred at that zoo, Marius was deemed excess and fed to the lions. Giraffes breed much more slowly than capybaras. I often wonder what happens to all of those cute babies we see at zoos, especially in Japan. In the wild, capybara herds are about eighty percent females. The prospects for young male wild capybaras are not good, but I wonder if they are any better in zoos.

I’ve already expressed my opinion on The Wild Life, not that it is relevant. What I think these people are trying to say is that Gari would have been better off  dead or nonexistent than living in my home. Obviously, I don’t believe that. In spite of everything that happened. More than that, I can state unequivocally that I would not be better off.

Gari at his new home

Gari at his new home

Gari came to me at a time of great need for both of us. After three years, I still cannot imagine how his previous owners could have given him up. How they could have left him in a crate at the airport, scared and alone, to fly by himself back to Texas. I don’t understand it, but I am glad they did. I am glad they had the strength to admit that they did not have the time or facilities to provide for him. And I’m glad he came to me so that I had the chance to know him and to love him.

Here are some of the things I loved most about him.

His cuteness

His cuteness

Like all capybaras, Gari could not help but be cute. Even so, there was a special look in his eye, a kind of longing to be with people and to be loved that gave his gaze and extra dose of cuteness.

Rolling

Rolling

Rolling was Gari’s superpower and he never looked cuter than when he was doing it. There was so much joy and playfulness in those rolls. So much appreciation for the freedom and comfort water brings to a capybara. And just so much Gari. Caplin Rous never rolled and I have never heard of a wild capybara doing it, nor have I seen or heard of zoo capybaras rolling. In this way, I think Gari had more of a childlike quality to him, more of an appreciation for the moment. Or maybe he was domesticated enough that he no longer feared the many predators that capybaras face in the wild.

Me and Gari

Me and Gari

The best times I spent with Garibaldi were the long summer afternoons in the pool. Caplin Rous used to come sit on my lap while I sat on the pool table reading, but Gari would never go for that. Instead I was expected to spin him in the water for as many as 15 rolls before he surfaced for air or swam away for a break. This last year I was also expected to pick him up and throw him over backward so that he went as deep as possible. He would then swim back to me, a capybara smile on his face. If he wanted to be thrown back again, he would squirm in my arms with a little twist that both let me know what he wanted and simultaneously made it very hard to do.

If he didn’t squirm, he would often place his front paws on my left forearm and bring his back paws to rest on my thighs. I could hold him like that for hours. The funny thing was, he never put his front paws on my right arm. We always had to face the same way. . He would sometimes let me hug him in that position. At times, I could even rest my head on his back.

The friendly capybara

The friendly capybara

Gari was not brave like Caplin. He didn’t like going places. But, also unlike Caplin, he was very friendly to people who came to visit him at our house. I never would have let strangers get in the pool with Caplin, but Gari was a completely different personality. He warmed right up to people in the pool and would let them hold him and pet him and swim with him. The photo above is of Gari being held by Dr. Sharman Hoppes, the ROUS Foundation vet at Texas A&M. She and a bunch of her students came down to check on him after his neutering in 2011.

 

Animal friends

Animal friends

Gari was good with his animal friends and co-pets too. He never met an animal he didn’t like. He was often confused by Flopsy the Killer Cat’s attitude toward him though.

Gari with his Rick

Gari with his Rick

No story about Gari would be complete without mentioning his love for “his Rick.” Gari never felt safe unless he knew where Rick was. He loved to follow him around the house and to go for walks with him. Sometimes he would sit outside the door to Rick’s office and eep quietly and plaintively. This never seemed to move Rick the way it did me. I would end up going over to Gari, talking to him and petting him while he stared at Rick’s door and cried. Eventually I would persuade Rick to come out and Gari’s little eeps would transform instantly to his happy sound. Sometimes he wanted Rick to take him outside for a walk. Sometimes he wanted Rick to watch him swim or graze. Often he wanted Rick to watch his back for predators while he used his water bowl in the bathroom. I don’t know why Gari loved him so much, I guess it was a guy thing.

I could go on forever but instead I am going to bring this to a close. Please read the old blog entries if you haven’t already.

As for me, I need to get a handle on my new disability. I need to get my life in order. The future is so uncertain that I cannot possibly commit to another pet. I’m hoping that in a year or so things will have settled out and I will be ready to bring another capybara into my life, hopefully a full sibling to Garibaldi Rous. Until then, I will be doing some things to raise money for the ROUS Foundation and to promote capybara awareness. I will post occasionally here.

Thank you all for your support and for your generous donations to the Rous Foundation.

71 comments to A Eulogy for Garibaldi Rous

  • Beautifully written, Melanie. I am hoping that the transitions in your life eventually come around to being positive changes as you move forward. Thank you for sharing your beloved capys with us. I know that I am better for it.

  • Malkah

    Melanie, I am so sorry. Thank you so much for sharing everything about your life with Gari, and for sharing your passion and love for unique animals (they’re all unique, of course) with us. I am so sad, and I know you’re even more sad. But I hope that it helps that we’re sharing in this grief. Much love to you and yours. ~Malkah

  • Leslie M. Bliman-Kuretzky

    Beautiful and I miss Gari so much. ((HUGS)) to you and RIP dear Gari.

  • Leslie M. Bliman-Kuretzky

    Beautiful.

    I miss Gari so much. ((HUGS)) to you and RIP dear Gari.

  • Robin

    I have so enjoyed the journey with you and Gari, I never had seen a Capybara, until my daughter showed me yours. Thankyou Melly for taking us along with this wonderful and loving creature. I laughed and cried but most of all I was awed by his unique self,in closing Aloha for the memories

  • Rawil

    Poor poor Gari. Rest in peace.

  • Kristy

    This was a beautiful eulogy. Thank you so much for sharing Gari with us. He is definitely missed.

  • Erika

    Melanie, thank you so much for sharing your life & time with your capys. You are such a special person who has obviously always adored her animals, and that is such a source of light & inspiration. I wish you happiness & positive things for the future. Hugs for all of you.

  • Diane

    Thank you for a lovely eulogy.
    I feel so sad for you and for the emptiness you surely feel since Gari died.
    You did the best for him, always. He had the best life he could have had.
    Thank you for letting so many people know about these amazing creatures.
    Wishing you strength, peace and a smooth transition to a new phase in your life.
    If you can write about it from time to time, I am sure many of us would be happy to know how you are getting along.
    Take care.

  • Thank you, Melanie. You are a great advocate for capybaras and animals in general. I’m grateful I got to know Garibaldi through what you’ve shared.

  • Heather

    Thank you for sharing Gari’s life with us, and also for sharing your life and Rick’s life as well. I hope you know how many people were thinking of you when we learned of your stroke and how many are thinking of you now with the loss of Gari. We not only thought of him with love and affection, but of you too. While I know this blog is about capybaras, I hope you also will keep us updated with how you are doing. We will miss hearing about Gari’s antics but I am sure no where near as much as you will miss experiencing them.

  • Paul E Dodaro

    So very moving. I cried when I saw that Gari had died. Did so again while reading the eulogy. Was trying to read it to my wife but kept breaking down. We have such sympathy for you, in part because of your loss and in part because of your medical challenges. Gari was a special being. Through you, we felt like we knew him. Always we looked for this FB posts, his adventures, and read the blog too. Thank you for sharing. Your outlook on life and the universe is unique, wonderful, and comforting.

  • Peter

    Melly,

    I can only wish you two things: recover your health and have the possibility to have a new cappy.
    Thank you for sharing all your experience with us.

    best regards from Hungary

  • Naomi Lindstrom

    You gave Gari the best life he could have lived. I especially appreciate your wisdom in letting him die at home rather than subjecting him to futile treatment.
    Keep us updated from time to time.

  • pat anderson

    Thanks Melanie, as a senior citizen I enjoy my computer. You were one of the best things I looked forward to on my facebook & your blog. I will miss you & your family including all the pets. Hope to see you back in the future. Again many thanks for brightening my days.

  • Gems & Saul

    Lovely words for such a lovely ‘bara. Thank you so much for sharing Gari’s life, we have followed his blog ever since he came to live with you and he has brought us so much joy. The life and home you gave to Gari was amazing, he seemed so happy and loved and certainly much better cared for than any capybara we have seen in zoos here. Gari has really touched our lives, and we have shared our interest in him with many people we know (including Saul’s students). We are thinking of you at this awful time, and wishing you all the best in your time of grief. Saul & Gems

  • Margie

    I am so very sorry. Gari will certainly be missed. He was loved by many. Best regards to you as you continue he to heal and recover. Hopefully you will keep us posted on your recovery and the fundraising efforts. I would be happy to donate as Garibaldi brought much happiness to me.

  • Kj

    So sorry to hear this , he will be missed , thank you for sharing the blog’s and photos, good bye Gari

  • Chanda Bellick

    Melly thank you so much for sharing your love of capybaras with everyone. I always thought they were cute but thanks to you and Gari I also got a glimpse of how love able they are.
    Gari was such a special Capy that needed a special person like you in his life.
    I’m not sure what happens to us or are pets after we pass but I like to think we will be reunited with our best friends eventually.
    Thank you again for sharing your life with your Capy’s with us and take care of yourself physically and emotionally.
    I look forward to your next post and updates about you and how your doing.
    Lots of good vibes and love I’m sending your way.

  • Valentina

    Melly,
    You are amazing. You inspire me. Thank you so much for being so kind and gentle with Gari and Caplin and for sharing them with us. I also don’t believe in many things, but I do know that love and kindness are the most important reasons why we are here, and that they are what unite all of us here on Earth. I hope you can rest and recover from the many things that have happened recently, cheering you on!
    Sending you lots of love from NYC <3 <3 <3 hugs <3 <3 <3

  • Ginger Shekell

    Melanie, if it wasn’t for you and the work you’ve done with the ROUS Foundation, I would never have known about capybaras let alone been able to share your joy and heartache of being a capy-mommy. I know you are a very strong woman and that you will figure out a way to make all this chaos seem normal again. I know that you will always have a spot in your heart for Caplin and Garibaldi; I still shed a tear for the fur kids I’ve lost over the years. Take solace in the fact that Gari knew you were able to take care of him unlike his former owners. He knew he was loved and he loved you both right back. I read the comments both here and on FB from people whose lives you have touched over the years with your blog and I hope you never stop doing what you do best and that is be an advocate for the causes you believe in. Time does not heal all wounds, however, it does give the wounded the ability to learn how to live with it. You are always in my thoughts and I am just a message away.

  • teenie

    Thank you so much for sharing your Garibara with us. Take all the time you need to take care of yourself, and we’ll continue to support the ROUS Foundation.

  • Lisa Santiago

    Melanie I had no idea sweet Gari passed away…I am so so sorry. ..you worked so hard to keep him well. Thank you so much for sharing all of your stories and updates and emotions. ..and for your beautiful eulogy. I pray you get well and also that you adjust somehow to your profound loss. May Gari rest in peace…

  • Kaitlyn Donovan

    Melly, your Eulogy was beautiful and perfect. I think making a list of all the things you loved best about him was the most perfect memorial, and knowing that I am about to loose my best friend, my dog, who just turned 14 (I too was holding out for his birthday, and I’m still shocked that here he is, a week later…)… But I know he won’t be here much longer.

    So I’m going to make a list, just like you did, of all the things I love best about him, and since you’ve given me the idea, I’m going to read it to him.

    Because I know that our animals understand us. I don’t know if there’s anything before or after this life, any meaning to the universe or our existence, any “god” or “goddesses” out there ruling over us all like a bunch of lego mini figures, but regardless, I think the absolute kindest thing you could ever do to remember someone, is remember all the best things about them. Thank you for giving me the idea, because I had no idea how I was going to say goodbye, and now I do.

    I’m so glad you’ll have another capybara some day. I can’t imagine your life without one,and I can’t imagine the world without your blog about you, and your capybara adventures.

    I’m so so sorry for your loss, and your hurt, and the physical crap life handed you to deal with, especially with this timing.

    You’re a wonderful person. Thank you for sharing both Gari and Caplin with us, even if it does mean that twice now, I’ve spent weeks, crying over the loss of an animal I never even got to meet (in person). And thanks for giving me hope for the future. A future without your beautiful posts and photos of capy happiness, is just no future at all.

    <3 your pal

  • I have been an admirer (my family claims I am obsessed) of Caplin, and then Gari, and of course, Melly, YOU, for the marvelous care you have taken of these wonderful souls. I think the AR hater types are so far off the mark, mostly out of ignorance. They do not understand the tireless work and care that goes into caring for an exotic animal responsibly, and that many good owners provide better care than a sanctuary or zoo is able. You are one of those. In fact, I have no doubt that combined with the veterinary knowledge of your Texas A&M vets you make up the most Capybara-knowledgeable team in the world today, without exaggeration. I hope that as your life allows, you will be able to let another capy into your heart and home. I am in the same situation with my sugar gliders and hedgehogs. My last, Lilo, past away recently and it was so hard on me. My health makes another exotic pet just not possible at this time. I did, however, rescue an amazing little dog named Sparks McGee who I am training to be my Service Dog and he is also helping to heal that hole in my heart considerably. I love him SO much.

    I do believe in God, but I don’t believe He “meant” for Gari or my suggies or hedgies to be in the wild any more than He “meant” for my dog Sparks to be abandoned. I believe He means for us to be stewards of animals, to care for them the best we can, whether they are in the wild or domesticated. And I truly believe He means for those special animals in our lives, whether exotic or not, to be in our lives. I believe He brought Sparks to me to help me deal with losing my sugar gliders. I believe He brought Gari to you (but no offense intended that that is not how you feel! Just sharing what I think.).

    Gari meant so much to all of his fans, but I know he meant a lot more to you. I am so sorry for your great loss and wish you the best. You are a truly amazing person, and a gift to capybaras everywhere.

  • This was a beautiful tribute and of course, made me cry again. If all of us, who only knew him online, miss him, I can imagine how much more you and Rick do. Your eulogy reminded us what was special about him, his “Gari-ness” and made me glad that you have so many good memories of him.
    I was glad to see that you are feeling more hopeful and haven’t ruled out another cappy in the future if your situation improves. I do hope your health improves, not just for that possibility, but because you still seem to have much more to do in this lifetime. I was also pleased to see that you might occasionally post here, and hope you do, as we would like to know how your other pets are doing and I always enjoyed hearing about Winston BB especially.
    Thank you again for providing a wonderful home for Gari, and Caplin before him.And thanks for sharing their adventures and ultimately your grief and memories with us. You have a Good Heart.

  • Lori Courtaway

    Thank you for sharing Gari’s life and yours through him with all of us. He was a fantastic guy. He will truly be missed.

  • Laurie Coppola

    That was heartfelt and beautiful. I am so sorry yoy b lost Gari, but so glad you have wonderful memories, photos and videos of him. I hope you get your own health under control, and applaud your continued efforts for the ROUS Foundation. ♡♡♡

  • Rosemary

    Melanie, I think that Gari was as fortunate to have you as you were to have him. He had a rough start, which contributed to his poor health. His time with you provided him with the best care and love a capy could ever hope for. Take the time you need to heal your heart. When and if you’re ready, you’ll bring another animal into your life. Thank you for sharing Caplin and Gari with us.

  • Patricia McQuinn

    I had never heard of a capybara until I met Gari on Facebook. Something about such a big, loveable creature captivated me. I looked forward to all his posts and his blog entries. I guess you could say I became a virtual stalker. I treasure the calendar hanging on my wall and our plush capy. His death has left us all poorer.

  • ratfancy

    Hugs to you – thank you for posting.

  • Such a lovely eulogy for such a special Capybara. I had seen Capybaras before, but only truly began to understand and love them because of Gari and you Melly. Thank you for sharing him with us. <3
    Take some time for yourself, to heal mentally and physically, and one day I am sure that another lucky little Capybara will come into your life.
    Please keep in touch, we want to know that you are ok. xx

  • Michele M

    Thank you, Melly for letting us all love Gari as you did. We loved seeing him roll and swim. We loved the relationship the two of you had. And we also grieve for him. May you find peace in your memories. Hugs to you and your family. Please keep in touch with your “fans” and let us know that you’re ok. We love you!

  • Dee E

    Thank you Melly for sharing your fond memories of Gari. I hope that your life’s circumstances once again bring a capybara back to you. I have enjoyed the journeys of Caplin and Gari that you have shared with us.

  • janet

    I am soo sorry.

  • Lisa

    Melly, i just wanted to leave a comment and wish you well. you’re obviouly going through a tough patch right now with everything that has been thrown your way. i hope we see you again when you are better with a new blog and a new capy. you are obviously a loving person and i wish you nothing but the best. i have enjoyed your blog immensely over the past few years.
    best wishes to you.

  • Connie Hillyer

    Melly, my heart is broken for you and Rick and all the people who were lucky enough to know Gari personally. Your photos and stories of Gari, and of course Caplin before him, have been such a pleasure. Please take care of yourself and your other animal friends, and if the time comes when you’re ready to give another capy a special home, I hope you’ll again share with your internet “family.”

  • Caroline

    Melly, I am really sorry for your lost. Gari was such a lovely capy and he had a great life. If this could make any easier, my dad paints T-shirts with the image of any pet. They look just like a photo. http://www.facebook.com/escadariadaarteatelier. Hugs from Brazil.

  • Nicola Hurley

    Melly – Gari landed on his paws when arrived in your home with you and Ricky. It’s tough when you loss a pet ( I lost a guinea pig a week before Christmas) it’s heart breaking. It takes time to get over the lost of a pet. I hope you get yourself better and strong before you take on another pet. Your next pet will be just as spoilt as Gari was.

  • Tammy

    Thank you for “sharing” Gari and for being a good person. My condolences on the loss of Gari.

  • Chweyl Schulz

    So sorry to hear about the loss of Gari. I know that you and Rick will miss him terribly. I have lost many pets over the years and nothing can replace them as they all have their own unique personalities no matter the type of pet they are. Gari had a great life with both of you. Enjoy those memories.

  • Tammy Bakken

    Melly,
    I want to personally thank you for sharing your love of Caplin and Gari with us. I have been reading your blogs since Caplin. My daycare children have learned so much about Capys and are really interested in them. Please take care of yourself and I will be looking once in a while for an update about you. We all loved Gari very much and he has a special place in our hearts.

  • Wendy

    Thanks Melly for sharing Gari with all of us. We sure do miss him but can not compare to your loss. All the blogs, videos and pictures are something we can all treasure and look back on them. I never knew anything about capybara’s until I started following Gari and Melanie. Between the two of you I have learned so much. I hope Melly you are recovering and someday open your home and share it again with another capybara who will truly know the meaning of being loved by you and Rixk. Take care. Always in my thoughts xoxo

    Sure do miss Gari! Rest on peace my sweet Gari!

  • Marc Borza

    There is no doubt at all that Gari’s life was better because you took him into your home and gave him true love. Take care of yourself.

  • Molly Muir

    Melanie, what a beautiful and passionate eulogy
    You are the most caring and wonderful pet owner
    I have ever met – you’re a wonderful companion
    and trainer and activist for all animals.
    You are truly inspiring…
    We need so many more people like you in our world.
    I’m so honored to have met Caplin and Gari –
    And truly honored to call you my friend.
    – Molly

  • Christina Faull

    I cried while reading this. At your pain, at the loss of Gari, at the emptiness you have in your home and your heart. Also because I have felt that loss after my hand reared Tasmanian Pademelon died after necessary vet work. I got all the comments about her not being happy in captivity (wrong), about her being better off in the wild (where hunters maim them and blanket poisoning results in slow deaths).

    Gari loved you and you gave him a life where he was safe and loved and joyful. There is no great plan or purpose. There are just good people who care a lot and animals who need us.

    Look after yourself Melly, and I hope to see posts about a new ROUS in time! Thank you for sharing Gari with us. He is still my phone cover! Xxx

  • Pam & WBBII

    What ^they said! You and Caplin and Garibaldi and WBBI have a special place in my heart, always.

  • Rui

    *hugs Melly & Rick*

  • Very, very nice. A lovely and insightful tribute. Take care …

  • Ann

    I cried reading that beautiful eulogy. Gari was such a special capybara. May his spirit and Caplin’s live on in the hearts of those who loved them. Thank you for sharing both your wonderful pets with us. I hope you’re able to share your love with another capybara someday. You and Rick take care. I truly hope you can share your love with another capybara someday. If that happens, I’ll look forward to meeting him/her on here.

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