The Dog.

July 13, 2014 § 11 Comments

My friend John says, the day you get a dog the clock to heartbreak starts ticking.

And it’s true.

Get a dog and you commit to loving a member of a short-lived species. Not gerbil-short, but far shorter than your own expected life span.

Better to love a tortoise or a parrot.

And yet most of us choose a dog, because between the first tick of that clock and the last is an unconditional friendship not possible with a member of any other species, including our own.

Most of the credit for that belongs to the dog.

Uncritical, appreciative, ready to do whatever you want to do. Just open the car door and the dog jumps in.

A dog doesn’t keep score or hold a grudge. A dog gives you the benefit of the doubt, even if you’ve repeatedly proved you don’t deserve it.

It’s a shame we are so convinced of our superiority. We could learn a lot from the dog.

Across a lifetime most people have several, including the one who pees on the rug, the one who barks too much, but among those dogs is usually one who is The Dog.

Moo climbing down the treehouse stairs--before there was a treehouse.

Moo climbing down the treehouse stairs–before there was a treehouse.

Ours was Moo.

The clock to heartbreak ran out almost two months ago–it has taken me this long to find the courage to write about her.

Two months later, there are still vacancies everywhere.

Where her bed should be is bare floor.

Her dishes in the kitchen, the water dish in a deep pot because she was a slurper—gone.

Moo was an Australian Cattle dog, a constant shedder. Most of the tumbleweeds of fur have been vacuumed up and when I find one it makes me cry.

But it is the vacancies in our daily routines that break our hearts.

Now Ray goes out to Bluebird, our land in Wakulla County, without the pal who used to run ahead on the path, bolt off into the adjoining Corbett’s land chasing the scent of a deer. He no longer sees the white flag of Moo’s tail above the high grass.

She is a sadder, quieter part of his daily ramble as he follows the path along the edge of the meadow that goes by her grave.

I walk our home neighborhood no longer tethered to a being who follows the suggestions of her nose far more than her eyes, smelling spots on the ground that, to me, look like every other spot on the ground. Moo was my window into another kind of consciousness.

Moo and the whole family, 2002.

Moo and the whole family, 2002.

Every walk, Moo would trot off the road and into the grass where she would fall luxuriously on her side, then, rolling onto her back, kick all four paws in the air.

Each time the joy she demonstrated was huge.

She reminded me what living in the now means.

I miss her pointy ears. I miss her stepping over me as I lie on the floor stretching. I miss running my hand over the coarse guard hairs on her back.

Sometimes, just for a moment, habit overrides memory and I think, I’d better go home and feed Moo. Cloudy with sleep, Ray still steps over her spot on the floor at the foot of our bed.

As we adjust to life without her there are small consolations. This is the first summer she won’t have to endure in that thick fur coat, the first fourth of July she won’t quake and drool as the neighbors set off fire crackers in the street. I guess it is a human saving grace to look for the good, even when there isn’t much.

As near as we can guess Moo died at about seventeen. Seventeen is as close to forever as most of life’s moments of grace last.

People say, “Get another dog. There are so many that could use a good home.”

I bet we will, one of these days, but like the decision to remarry after the death of a spouse, the decision to re-dog is hard. It is not a dog we are grieving but a family member.

The chance of our getting another Moo is zero. Moo was not dog.

Moo was The Dog.

Note: To read about Moo in her glory days take a look at an earlier post, A boy and his dog. 


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§ 11 Responses to The Dog.

  • KM Huber says:

    The unconditional love a of a dog is forever, and it comes round time and again, as a breeze or a memory. It takes time for that to be enough but love is timeless here on the physical plane or in any of the other dimensions in the multi-verses of which we are just beginning to glimpse.

    With Cooper and Gumby, I sometimes think I knew two versions of the same dog. I didn’t, of course, but Cooper (and EmmaRose) came to live with me quite soon after Gumby’s death. Honestly, it felt as if Gumby was orchestrating the whole thing.

    Cooper has been gone over a year-and-a-half now. Just yesterday, my mind’s eye saw him sitting in the passenger seat of the Scion, as always. For a moment, my heart lurched but gratitude for knowing the love of this dog overcomes the physical loss eventually. The energy of Gumby and Cooper is “out there” where it was before it became them. For every moment that I “sense” them, it is love all over again.

    Beautiful post, Adrian.


    • I am still in the stage in which my heart lurches. I still expect to see Moo in the places she has always been. When I wrote the rough draft for this post i said that she had been gone for three weeks. It was only when I checked my journal that I realized it had been two months.

      Her death is hard to walk away from and leave in the safe arms of the past.


  • craig reeder says:

    this story left me speechless.


  • Kathy fowler says:

    Funny you should mention 2002.That is when we had lost our last dog.both brothers had moved out by then.Her death was too much for my stepdad and he followed her into the great beyond 4 months later.She sometimes comes to me in a dream and I was wondering what occasion would remind me of her and it is you.Btw she and her was named Sheba Shannon Devine


    • It is great to see a comment from you Kathy, and glad to hear that a dog you lost in 2002 still comes to you in dreams. I’m looking forward to seeing Moo, even if it is only in a dream.


  • Gina says:

    You, and Moo, made me cry. My heart goes to you and Ray.


  • Jamie says:

    Moo was a beautiful creature. The neighborhood isn’t the same without her.


    • In the neighborhood we are known by our dogs, aren’t we? Walking without her I feel as if I have forgotten something essential–like putting on my shoes. Walks are so much more lonely without her. Thank goodness I still run into friendly neighbors as I walk without her. It eases the sadness.


  • Lara says:

    My Dog has been gone for 7 years, and we have 3 new dogs. But you are right; I’ll never have another Dog, and I still tear up when I think of her. My heart breaks for you.


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