I've been here before. Actually, having been here before is how I ended up with Moose, which brings me to where I am today. (insert record scratch, I guess?)
A little over 10 years ago, I had a week from when I took my dog to the vet to the day I said goodbye. Hobbes was 12, and it was too soon. But cancer doesn't care.
In August 2010, I said goodbye to Hobbes. My buddy, my footwarmer, my shadow. After he was gone, I just missed having a buddy, a chore dog who would just walk the farm with me. Atlas and Goliath had work to do. Athena was Larry's dog. It took weeks of begging Larry, showing him adorable pictures of dogs at shelters - big, floofy mutts that could be MY dog. My companion. My shadow.
I then I sent him these.
Blue and Shadow. Shadow was his sister, they said they were Malamute mixes. (Honestly, I wanted them both!) But Shadow got adopted, which is fine, I like boy dogs better.
Sorry they are so small. These were the thumbnails on the Boulder Humane Society page. After weeks of being told no, being ignored and being yelled at for asking for another dog, I'm not sure what wore him down, but Larry said yes.
Silly Larry. I immediately put a hold on him, and having a half day of work that day, I went straight to the shelter. I filled out the application and waited to see him, I was ready for the interview. I fostered dogs from the Michigan Humane Society, where I got Hobbes, and I knew I could ace this. When the adoption counselor came out to talk to me, I was nervous, but ready. Instead of being grilled with questions, they asked me "what can we do to help you take him home today?" I pulled out my checkbook and brought him home. And named him Moose.
At 25 pounds, seeing him next to Shannon, who probably weighed 18 pounds, I declared that in Moose's whole life, Shannon would never be bigger than him. I was right.
I have never ever in my life known a dog like Moose. In his "teens" I had to spend a short amount of time teaching him to stop chasing chickens. It did require a shock collar and a remote. He quickly learned not to chase them if I was around, so we had to catch him when he didn't think we were watching. Sometimes it would be my neighbor, Kirsten, and he would be taken aback at where the voice of God was coming from, getting him in trouble with the chickens. So he stopped.
But this dog has always just slept. He's been this big, mellow, friendly, totally low-key dogger. Always happy to meet new people, happy to go for a walk or a hike or camping or to just stay home. Just a happy boy. But never a rough and tumble puppy. Just this mellow thing.
He was patient with Shannon, all the time.
She could play with him, nap with him..
Even sit on him.
He has walked Shannon to the bus stop on the first day of school every single year. And even let her put flowers in his hair.
Since most of the other dogs had work to do, once we lost the original 4, Moose became our camping dog. He'd go with me anywhere, hiking Rabbit Mountain, off on camping trips. He was great at riding in the car, sleeping in a tent and just hanging out with us. He was good off leash, as long as you didn't yell at him. You had to say his name nice, or he would just wander away from you.
He didn't like to swim, but didn't mind getting his paws wet and a drink of water to cool off.
He ate all the rabbits on our property, and not by chasing them. No, this dog was lazy as could be. Sure he'd go hiking, but he never tugged on his leash. He laid down where the rabbits built their dens, and waited for them to wake up, and he'd grab them as they popped out. The first self-feeding pup we've ever had.
His belly must have been equipped with solar panels, because he slept upside down a lot. Never on my bed, even though we wanted him to. But he's been by my side for over 10 years.
It's a weird feeling when you know you'll wake up tomorrow and never get to see a friend again. I know life will go on. I've got 7 pups in the ground, and I still learn to go on without them.
Last week, his belly seemed to suddenly swell. He wasn't acting bloated, so I thought maybe he swallowed something and had a blockage. Nope. Vet found cancer. It was filling his entire abdominal cavity with grapefruit sized tumors on his spleen and liver. And he was bleeding internally. His breathing is labored, with all that extra pressure inside, and he's just uncomfortable. I've gotten better at being the grown up here. When I had to put my first dog down - I kept BEGGING him to tell me it was time. He kept wagging his tail and smiling. He didn't want me to know. I think I kept him around 6 months longer than I should have, because I wanted HIM to do the heavy lifting, I wanted him to remove this burden.
I hate it. It always feels like a betrayal. But I look back on his life - spent on this farm, hiking all around Colorado with me, having the best little girl as his friend. What a great life for a dog. I gave him everything I could. And I have the power to release him from his pain. To send him wherever it is that good dogs go. Cause he is a good boy. He never got to meet Hobbes. I hope he does now. I hope there is a giant couch somewhere and they are all waiting for me. I'm not much of a believer, but if there is a heaven, it's full of dogs. This one deserves it.
I love you Moose. You made my life better. Somehow, the universe brought you to me when I needed you. I just wish there was more time. I'm not ready to wake up to a day without you.
August 10, 2010 - January 22, 2021