Freshly divorced and disappointed with an old girlfriend, I decided the best course of action was to rescue a dog and just forget about romance.
Little did I know, I was about to embark on a 16 year love affair.
My search began on the internet with several lab rescue groups. One day, I got a notice that a young chocolate lab was saved from death row in Nashville. His ghastly crime? He had chewed up his owner’s couch. This varmint needed rescuing.
Early one sunny day in November, he arrived in the back of a station wagon. His name was “Scout” and he stumbled out of his cage, still under the effect of some medicine meant to relax him for the long trip.
My daughter, Morgan, was with me and immediately volunteered to take him for a walk. With a mighty tug, they were off! This big muscular dog was dragging my little 8-year-old around the parking lot.
“This dog is a moose!” she screamed. “Yes, Moose, chocolate Moose, the perfect name,” I replied. We never called him “Scout” again.
After signing the papers and paying a finder’s fee, I adopted Moose. He was nine months old with a ton on energy. Despite his size, he was a gentle soul, easily befriending my neighbor’s dogs.
He did not like being left alone. Although, he was crate trained, Moose preferred the couch life. He liked the couch so much, he dug a hole in it. Yikes!!
He wasn’t much better in my truck. Left alone for 5 minutes while I made a quick deposit to flirt with the bank teller, I returned to a sea of white. Moose had ripped up the seat cushions and was covered in foam.
And so it began. A man and his dog. A true affair of the heart.
For the next 16 years, he became part of my life. Some would say the biggest part.
An eager passenger, we explored the roads, always on the lookout for a pond or lake. Moose was an excellent swimmer and never tired of retrieving.
He would patiently wait in the back of the truck until I gave the command.
“Release!” I barked. Moose would explode out of the truck and sprint toward the pond, ducks scattering to safety.
We would spend hours playing, until one day I noticed a change. Moose kept swimming in circles looking for his toy to retrieve. Just by chance he found it and swam back to the sound of my voice.
A quick trip to the vet confirmed my fears. Moose was almost blind. He was just eight years old. But, he would live the next eight years as he did the first, full of life and love.
Over time, the trips became harder to take. Moose slept a lot and didn’t have the same amount of energy although his appetite never wavered.
We had more medical scares. Three big tumors had to be removed, each larger than the previous one. He sailed through it all. Moose had a strong heart and a great desire for life.
One day, just a week or so before Thanksgiving, there was something terribly wrong. Moose was having trouble breathing and could not rest. For 16 years he was the light of my life, but now that light was dimming.
I scooped him up, his once toned and muscular body replaced by saggy skin and matted hair. He grunted as I placed him on his favorite bed in the back of the truck.
The vet said it was my decision. Moose was in pain, his lungs full of fluid.
I held him as the needle slipped into his paw. He gave me a look as if to say ‘What’s happening?’ His eyes closed and his body went limp but that was not the end. The heart of this amazing dog with a zest for life refused to stop beating. I cried as the vet gave Moose a second shot that would finally end his life.
The dog that had given me so much was finally out of pain.
Moose was buried with his favorite bed in a grave on my family’s tree farm. He is surrounded by the Christmas trees he once navigated as a pup.
It’s been almost two years since I lost my Moose. Life is not the same. A dog and the unconditional love that comes with it cannot be replaced. I miss you, Moose.
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