I’m going to get a bit sentimental here, and this will probably get a bit winded anyway so it’s going to be under a read more thing.
I worked sixteen and a half hours the Tuesday before this past one, and was scheduled to work 6a.m. to 2p.m. the next day. I knew something was wrong when I got home from work and my mother was still awake, sitting out on the porch. Admittedly, I kind of expected the news that would follow, but that knowledge didn’t do me any good anyway. Missy, or Missy-Moose or Fluffaluffagus (among many other nicknames), was my dog, and not having her here is really painful. I mean, I’m perfectly okay admitting I get along better with my pets than I do with some people. Not the point.
One day, about thirteen years or so ago, I had to help my mother take Mackenzie, our very energetic puppy, to obedience classes. It was hot, and my stepdad had worked all day, so I had no problem with that. I maintain, to this day, those classes accomplished next to nothing. I don’t know what I had been expecting, to be honest. The instructor introduced the dog she would be using that class to demonstrate different commands as Missy, a black and brown German Shepard-Collie mix from the Hancock County Animal Shelter in West Virginia.
As the lesson went on, the instructor explained how Missy had been at the shelter for a little over a year now, and the shelter was not a no-kill shelter. She was living on borrowed time. That was about the point I started telling my mother how we needed that dog. I was met with initial protests of how we couldn’t have another dog. How Tippy and Mackenzie wouldn’t be able to deal with it. I kept it up, ramping up my efforts all the while. Protests of how Tom, my stepdad, wouldn’t go for it followed. The next day (and this is going off of my mother’s recollection), we went to a Fourth of July party at my cousin’s house. The topic came up again, and a friend of my cousin’s interjected with “What’s one more dog?” The answer finally changed to yes. I ended up having to stay home with Mackenzie and Tippy while my family went to pick Missy up, which is something that still bothers my mother. I was perfectly fine keeping the other two dogs company.
I still remember one day, still early into having Missy, when she was outside in the yard. We’d had a fence for some time, and it had always been adequate for keeping the dogs in. Missy had noticed someone walking a dog up the street, and ran to the one corner of the yard where she started leaping up and down, barking the whole while. I didn’t think much of it until she suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, managed to clear the fence. I had been wearing shorts and sandals at the time, so I was far from prepared to take chase. All the same, and with little thought going into it, I jumped over the fence and chased after her. Thankfully, she only wanted to stop and say hello to the passing dog.
Over the years, I would look forward to coming home from college to being greeted by wagging tails and a sense of being missed more than anything else in the world. Or when I would come home from an awful night at work to be greeted by Missy lifting her head, only a little, from the couch, only to roll over and give a small harrumph in response to me waking her when I’d gotten home. She would greet me as I made my way downstairs, by the loud thud of her tail against the couch cushions. These are the little things I’m really missing only a week later.
I stayed in the room when the vet euthanized her. I know it was for the best, but it’s one of those things I’ve still not fully come to terms with. The couch is missing an otherwise-present occupant. The kitchen is missing a set of metal bowls framed in a plastic casing to elevate them a little from the floor.
Some people may point out that she was just a dog, but she was my dog. And that got me through a lot of otherwise truly terrible times.
Missy-Moose was, without a doubt, one of the greatest, most loyal dogs ever, and though I can say my life was enriched by the time I had her, I can also say it is now quite lacking in her absence. I’m not so sure how much of the notion of an afterlife I buy into. I’d like to think she’s whole again, without the pains of arthritis, chasing rabbits and snoozing on only the comfiest couches. Getting the best of the food dropped from all sorts of tables.
My parents talked out letting me have her collar, which means a lot more to me than I suppose it should, but she was always my dog, and I will always miss her.