In memory of Mookie, Adopted 1990?
I found him at the local shelter the day my shepherd died. I stopped in on the way home from the vet to see what the hours were, when they had open adoptions. Our other dog needed a companion, and it was lonely with only one dog in the house. By chance, they were open and had some time to show me what dogs they had. I was hoping for another shepherd or maybe a husky. Definately a female, a dog that could go camping and into the woods and keep up with an active 4 year old boy.
They brought out Mookie. He was a little black Labrador Retriever mixed with some sort of terrier. What he was not, was everything I was looking for... female, shepherd, or a husky. He had floppy ears, paws too big for his feet, and a wet sloppy tongue that barely stayed in his mouth, and the absolute silliest look on his face. He had a
sillier name too. I knew it was a mistake, it was wrong, he wasn't the "right" dog for me. But he looked up at me, rested his head on my leg, and those eyes said you'll never be sorry if I come home with you.
He was not a hunting dog, unless you count hunting for handouts at the dinner table. He was not really a retriever, but he would find, steal, and eat a loaf of bread if he could sniff it out, even in the fridge. He wasn't even really my dog. He followed my wife around like a, well.... like a lost puppy,since the day I brought him home from the shelter. Of the dogs we've had over the last 20 or so years, this one was "Her Dog". Where she went he was there, usually underfoot. He always got his 10% 'agent's fee' of anything she might be eating. He slept at the foot end of the bed, muzzle resting on whatever body part was convenient for him to reach. At least one of us was
He never hunted, did not like the water, did like cats, loved peanut butter, hated to fetch anything, preferred being indoors to outside, watched television and never once complained when we turned off the Animal Channel to watch a movie. Wasn't allowed on the furniture but made himself quite at home in the recliner or on the sofa when no one was looking.
He was my wife's dog, when ever she was here. When it was only he and I at home, he was my shop dog, resting on his carpet in the corner or getting covered in sawdust or shavings. He watched me build more things than anyone else, and he never once criticised my work or complained about me using the wrong tool for the job. He always knew enough to be looking the other way when I made dumb mistakes too, and didn't go telling about the time I miscut a plank for using a metric scale instead of the english one.
He was the one who always let me know when the steaks were done on the grill, who finished off the leftovers, who made sure that the chicken gizzards and fat trimmings never went to waste, and watched over my cooking to see that I never over-salted the pasta. He called attention to the boiling over pots and burnt eggs when my wife cooked, a better timer than the smoke detectors.
Labrador's stay puppies for a long time. Full of energy and enthusiasm, alert, interested in anything in his surroundings. He was a puppy for the longest time until the first seizure a month ago. Grand mal, total loss of control, brain function, smell, sight, hearing. He turned into an old dog at the turn of a switch. The doc said he wasn't in any pain, gave him a mild tranquilizer to help control and prevent the seizures but it wasn't helping much. He had a second a week ago, worse than the first, and he got older still. His back legs didn't work as well now, and he went off his food and water. He was now officially an "Ol' Dawg", having to be lifted onto the bed at night to sleep.
Monday, I came home from taking my son to school and found him trapped under the bed, in the midst of a third seizure. Scared, alone, and trapped, I got him out and comforted him best as I could. He slowly came out of it over the next few hours. I knew that it was time. He spent the rest of the day pacing the house, dragging his back leg, unable to hear, partly blind from the last episode, pacing a circle of the rooms looking for a place to rest but unable to stop. He would fall over and then sleep where and how he fell for a short time, get up and start pacing again.
When my wife got home from work, we took him out to the car. One stumbling lap around the yard, unsure of foot and balance he marked HIS yard. My son helped lift him into the back of the truck.
He did not go quietly into that good night. His frailty of body and brain belied a spirit buried deep within. His 15 year old body could neither hear nor see, his sense of smell was all but gone. He could barely recognize where he was or who he was with. My wife and I stroked and held him until he took a last breath and with a heavy shudder and sigh was gone.
For the first time in 23 years there is no dog at the foot of the bed, no one to "guard" me in the shop or watch when I cook. No one begging for a moment away from my writing for an ear scratch or a quick run in the yard just to see who's out there. No one to nudge my leg whilst in the shop, reminding me it's time for a break.
No he was not a hunting dog, but he might have been if there was bread to be found. He was not a lot of things that some, even most, dogs are. What he was, was a loyal friend and true companion. What he is, is missed.
Goodbye old friend. We'll see you at the bridge someday.
For Mookie, 1990 - April 11, 2005