BY LES McCARTHY
October 28, 2015
I was going to write this week’s blog on the 287 (or so) varieties of apples that hang in crimson and gold splendor from the gnarled trees up and down our apple-laden island. But then I got sucked into the “All Things Pumpkin” train of thought—from picking pumpkins at Sherman’s Pioneer Farm (go there—they have a fabulous array of pumpkins and squashes!) to making a game out of how many Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) items I could find and take photos of at the grocery stores. I’m pretty sure there was even a PSL deodorant! Ridiculous at best!
But then my Lab, Moby, had a series of seizures and, 24 hours after thinking all things apples and pumpkins, I was saying good-bye to my wonderful friend who was just shy of 15 years.
What is the saying? What a difference a day makes? So true.
And being on an island that is so dog-friendly and dog-loving and dog-robust, I felt compelled to write a little something about dear old Mobes.
She came into our lives, as most rescues do, unexpectedly. We were living in Colorado at the time and I saw an ad for a female, white Field Lab in the newspaper. I must have been the first to call about her and I was also the last. I asked her owner why he was selling her and he told me he was “done” with her. She had given him 30 babies and he wanted a younger bitch. We were on our way to the mountains before he hung up the phone.
My husband, Tim, wasn’t too thrilled about the prospect of adding another animal to our menagerie but before we headed back home with the dog in the van, their love-affair had already begun. They were two lovebirds…they frolicked, they played, they napped—it was almost nauseating! Tim would practically make out with the dog when he came home from work, well before he ever said “hi” to ME! Was I jealous? Oh, maybe a tad!
Her name was Silver Snow—one that definitely needed to be changed because I couldn’t envision myself yelling out the back door: “Silver Snow—dinner!” So, we began to think of a new name for her. A week later, I came home from somewhere and…no dog. Frantic, I searched the house and—fearing she may have jumped the fence—I went out back. That’s where I found her…in the pond, submerged chin deep, tail thumping wildly on the rocks, goldfish marooned on her back. All the while she was making soft woo-wooing noises (not too unlike a whale).
So, she became Moby—our great white whale. It was either that or Esther Williams, and Moby just seemed to fit!
That next year held many firsts for her. I brought home a super tiny pug puppy (I’m sure Mobes was thinking “Not another one!”), which she cuddled and mothered as her own. Prior to our home, Mobes had been confined to a chicken-wire enclosure; with us, she learned how to walk on grass and carpeting, go up and down stairs and take up most of the room in our bed.
She also learned how to collect household items (like the king-sized comforter) and somehow get them through the dog door. All the stuffed animals in our house ended up in the backyard in a circle, looking like they were having a picnic. Her crowning achievement was finally learning how to “counter surf” and subsequently eating a loaf of bread (plastic bag and all), a thawing brisket, and 57 of the 120 decorated hand-made dog biscuits I’d made for my contribution to a local charity—all in one week.
At the end of that first year, it was clear Mobes and Tim were soul-mates; a more devoted pair would have been hard to find. And it was at that time that Tim’s cancer was diagnosed. He lasted 148 days and the entire time Mobes was glued to his side. One late night in June, a month before he passed, I was having a hard time getting Mobes to come outside with me. She was lying on the floor next to Tim’s side of the bed and something in her demeanor made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Dogs know things that we humans don’t and I thought her behavior was telling me he was dying. (He was, but that night was not the night.)
I was uneasy but finally got her to come outside with me where I laid on the chaise lounge under the stars with a full moon shining through the maple leaves. It was a beautiful, uncharacteristically balmy night, and to this day I can still hear the soft swish-rustle of those leaves. It was then that Mobes climbed on top of me and gave me a very large dog hug. I think she was telling me that while she was Tim’s dog and was devoted to him, she’d take care of me and love me, too, after he was gone. We laid like that for a long time—chin to chin—me crying my eyes out and her licking the tears from my neck.
That was over nine years ago. We went through a lot over the past years. She was my ever companion, popcorn sharer, travel buddy and dog sweetheart. If you’re a pet-person you know that my heart is broken. If you’re not—you may never understand the depth of this type of loss. But it’s real and painful.
Those of us who know what it’s all about know that we will lose another forever-friend at some point in our lives but we would welcome it all over again—for the love of a dog.
Les McCarthy is an author, entrepreneur and IPPY bronze medalist for her yearly “Healthy Living ~ Healthy Life: 365 Days of Nutrition & Health for the Family” calendars. She’s been a year on the island and in the NW and loves every gorgeous bit of it (especially the rain and fog). She joyfully tends to her geriatric fur factory and is rethinking her stand on how cute the snails and slugs are!
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