So the time has come, and gone, when we had to put our doggy friend’s comfort before our own heartbreak, as all we dog lovers have to do at one time or another, and we had to say goodbye. The time when you know you have to let them go. When it stops being fun for them.
And it is the worst of times.
Mookie was a good dog. The best dog. I can’t even think of a time when she was even bad. No shoes eaten or furniture chewed or gardens dug up. We tried collectively to think of naughty things she did but the pickings were slim. When she was a baby, she crept along the neck of a concrete garden duck like a preying cat until it toppled forward and cracked, and at one stage she liked to chew on a conifer and constantly had sticky resin all over her head. As I said – slim pickings.
The closest thing perhaps was an episode at puppy school. This was the highlight of her week. So much fun. So much excitement. Pumped with glee and with me attached to her lead, she leapt forward through an open gate and pulled me over. I lurched forward landing flat out on the ground, elbow grazed and my pocket caught on a fence wire, ripping a huge three quarter hole in the back of my pants. She didn’t care but I had to slink out of the dog club in shame, backwards, with my arse hanging out of my pants, trying to be inconspicuous while still attached to a manic, rollicking puppy hell-bent on having fun and greeting every living being in her path. The only lucky thing was that I wasn’t then, nor am I now, in the habit of wearing G-strings, which could have made the episode way more revealing.
She was a dog dedicated to human interaction, a mark of her breed. She loved trips to the dog park but spent more time cuddling up to people than playing with dogs. She greeted visitors audibly with extended whines of excitement, and when Moo came home to visit, she would sit with her for ages on the floor whimpering with joy, so happy to see her and be held. She really engaged with the nursing home residents and nudged them for pats (and also really liked picking up their cake crumbs at morning tea). I’m not sure she relished visits by the babies but she put up with their ministrations and dressings with great patience and impeccable manners.
Mookie was nice to dogs too. She was amazingly submissive in doggy pecking orders and always gave way. She welcomed poor old Misty, our GRR rescue, with open paws and taught her how to be a real dog in a family and to be calm, and willingly gave over her toys and even the coveted best corner spot to lie in.
After some initial misgivings, she accepted little baby Mango, another goldie, into the family, and marked the occasion with a ceremonial swipe of her paw. Although she never did appreciate Mango doing those wild running leaps onto her when she rolled on her back on the grass, or the perpetual humping in times of excitement.
But she got older and turned grey. Then out of the blue things happened that weren’t good (seizures and more), so we knew what was coming and we’ve been prepared. It’s been lovely these last few weeks making a fuss of her and doing her favourite things as we worked to tick things off her (our? my?) bucket list (read it here), even though we didn’t get as much time as we’d hoped.
We did well with the list, as the pictures attest: a dozen walks, a multitude of sniffs, lake visits, and enormous amounts of pats and love. She didn’t catch the bloody cat, though I’m glad she gave it a good shot one day. Didn’t make a sunset with Black Mountain tower rising in the distance but instead she saw the sunrise over Lake Burley Griffin in her last few hours, that big beautiful lake she could once walk and trot the whole way around. She even saw the globe at the edge of the lake so she could go out saying she’d seen the whole world.
We also received support and many suggestions from caring doggy lovers all over with their own furry friends, who understand. We added those suggestions where we could – like roast chicken and extra ice cream – though a couple we couldn’t get to. The beach was too far, the snow too late and the end too soon. At the suggestion of cyber-doggy friend, Indy, we even invested in some peanut butter (ordinarily absent in our home, vile stuff that it is) so she could give that a go. But she wasn’t much interested. I like to think she shared my good taste and also reviled such a filthy food product, but in reality I think it was just too late and her poor tummy just couldn’t take anything.
She also didn’t get the number of hits on her blog post that predecessor Misty got on her parting post, although Mookie had a few posts so maybe we could add them together. Or maybe a few Facebook shares will make them even? They shared everything.
In the end, Mookie’s bucket list wasn’t full of extraordinary things. It was just full of everyday things – like walks and visits and keeping company, and being with those she loved, and who loved her back.
I love wish lists – all the things I want to do in life, and places I want to visit – but when push comes to shove, if I only had a few weeks left up my sleeve like Mookie did, I’d be doing exactly the same sorts of things. Spending time with my family and loved ones, and taking in my favourite things. (Not the bone, though, or the peanut butter.) That’s all you need. Being loved and made to feel special.
It makes you realise that it’s all that any dog, or any person, could want. If only everyone could have such a blessed life and end to their life, this world would be a far happier place. And don’t we need that?
So now you are gone, my baby girl, and our house is eerily quiet. And all those things I predicted weeks ago have come to fruition. Our eyes are sore, our hearts are heavy, and the house is somehow empty.
I’ve never been in this house without you. I drink my coffee on the steps in the sun and you aren’t sitting next to me. My walk is faster though lonely. We keep going to toss you a scrap or open the door to let you in. A hundred times a day we catch ourselves with habits that will be hard to break. Imagine having to put mushroom stalks in the compost bin now? In the weeks and probably months to come, I will continue to sweep and vacuum up dog hair from places I have swept and vacuumed a dozen times before, and I will find long, blond hairs on clothes in my cupboard to remind me you were here.
As if we could forget.
Thank you for your company, Mookie-Moo. You were a joy.
PS Right at the end when I was pondering what the hell I was going to do with all these hundreds of photos we’re been madly taking, Mookie quietly whispered an idea to me. ‘Make a photo book for me, Mum. That way I can lie on your coffee table forever rather than next to it.’ She’s always been surprisingly smart, that dog – and articulate.
So, I guess that was on her list too, and we’ll have to do it. Just for Mookie, of course.
The bucket list
And here is the ticking off of the list.
Go for walks (there were many)
Swim at the lake – with friends Bowie and Papi as well
Garden (we got the perfect sunny autumn weather)
Catch the cat (it was inevitable that wasn’t going to happen, but that last flurry was fun)
Visit Betty (so much love)
Do a photo shoot (successful)
- Catch a sunset (got caught at the end so made the sunrise instead)
- Be brushed (oh yes, but not the tail)
- Avoid baths (definitely achieved – no photo available)
- Eat a maccas sundae (went for the cone)
- Give up dog food (yep, and roast chicken was added)
- Coffee date (yep)
- play with Mango (yep)
- be with family (always)
- Get as many blog hits as Misty (not quite, but you never know…)
- Eat a dirty big bone (Mum decided the poor old tummy couldn’t cope but we added a couple of dentabones instead)
But she got to break some rules instead she normally wouldn’t break.