A Sad Report

This morning, as the sun came up, I watched my husband from the upstairs window. I could see his blue parka through the morning haze as he gently buried his dog. We got Mayday the Christmas of the really big snowstorm – 1996, I think. We have pictures of her as a little puppy, tumbling and biting her way through the snow drifts, the very picture of health and energy. She has steadfastly guarded our home these past 12 years and she has brought us a lot of joy as we watched her quirky behavior.

She liked to flip her metal dish over and over as a way to tell us she would appreciate something filling it. She was part Golden Retriever, but I don’t think anyone ever told her. She looked like a Malamute and acted like one through and through. Retrievers generally love water, but she hated baths and would not even follow her favorite bone into the pond for a swim. Malamutes are pack dogs. In her mind, Jim was the lead dog and I was w a y down the line of authority. If she had food in her dish and I came near, she would hover over it protectively, as if I might try to eat it. This was somewhat embarrassing as perhaps people wondered if I’d tried it a time or two. She barely passed her dog training class, choosing to exhibit her Malamute stubborness for all the world to see. She did manage to obey a few commands if you had time to let her run through them until she hit on the right one. “Get in your house”, “go over there”, “sit”, “stay”, “lay down”, always started her through random spasms of trying to please – especially to please Jim. She adored him and watched his face intently for his approval. So now, when we come home at night, she won’t be there to greet us. She won’t sit at the door while we eat, making a puddle of drool while she waits for the coveted “people food” scraps. She won’t circle the throw rug trying to find just the right spot to nap. She won’t harass the meter reader and the gas delievery truck driver. She won’t scare some of our best friends. She won’t brush against my black pants or throw up on the porch.

I can’t believe how much I miss her already. Her kennel is empty, there is dog food in the garage and I heard a siren tonight before I heard her eerie howl – her pre-warning. I don’t hear her scratching her sides against the side of the house or hear her collar jangle when she scratches her ear. When Jim is out of town I’ll miss her loyal protection. It’s funny how much animals add to our lives.

Maybe, when the appropriate amount of time has passed, we will look for a new dog. But for right now, her memory is enough. When she panted, she looked like she was laughing and when we scratched her tummy, she always sneezed on us. She stepped on our toes, drank from the toilet bowl and buried dog food cans instead of bones, but her good qualities far outweighed the revolting. All our memories of her laughing face will still make us smile. She was 84 in dog years. She was slowing down, becoming old and tired, and now she can rest. I don’t have enough to say about her to fill a book, like Marley and Me or Old Yeller, but she did fill our lives with a lot of joy and she will always be part of our collective family memory.

Published in: on November 17, 2008 at 3:47 am  Comments (2)  

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  1. It was sad to be there when Mayday died. When Carrie and I got home that evening and found her I didn’t quite know how to tell Jim. So I went inside and stumbling over my words I told him that I thought something was wrong with her. I followed him out and let him make the discovery for himself. Again, I found myself not knowing what to say to my new father-in-law when he realized his dog had died, so I just stood there quietly. Being a man who loves my dog I know he was probably sad, as I will be when my dog eventually dies. In the short time I knew her I have my own memories: her barking at me everytime I pulled up into the driveway when she was caged but coming up to my car for a pat on the head when she wasn’t. Her frantically eating all her food whenever Jasmine was near. Watching her follow Jim around when he drove the tracker. Bringing muscrat remains to the front lawn. Graciously sharing her cage with Jasmine. The obvious display of excitment when I was the chosen one to take the plates out for their “pre-cleaning”.She was a good dog.

  2. You’ve done a great job of honoring your loyal friend in this post. Thank you for sharing your memories of her with us!

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