With love and much sadness our family said goodbye to our loyal friend and companion today.
I knew from the day I first laid eyes on Moose at the shelter, he was special. While all the others were overly excited running back and forth in their pens, he sat calmly looking at me as if he were sizing me up. I had a worker take him into a play area so I could see how he would react to our daughter who was only 3 at the time. He didn't react to her one way or the other so I called my DH and told him I wanted to take this girl home. Girl? Yes, they had his cage tagged as a female, lab mix, approx. 10-12 months old. I had no reason to check since the shelter is in the animal business and with his longer underbelly fur we didn't notice his family jewels until 2 days later. There is no doubt in my mind that this gender mishap was suppose to happen just the way it did. I had gone to the shelter only wanting a female, had I known that day he was male I might have passed him up. Thank God that I didn't know.
Once home I asked our 10 yr. old son to help me get some "groceries" out of the back of our truck. The look on Chris's face when he saw him was priceless! Moose and Sara quickly became good buds. He escorted her daily to and from the bus stop instinctively knowing what time in the afternoon he wanted out, usually about 10-15 minutes before the bus arrived.
He was so gentle he let a baby bird we were caring for climb around his head and nose. But when needed he rose to the task. Last summer I had to wake him from a nap (he was deaf by now) to remove a snake our stray cat had brought in the house and let go in the livingroom.
Though always well behaved in the house he did have one bad habit in the early years, he liked to intimidate people who drove up to the house. He had all the utilities workers (gas, electric, postman) fooled. His loud scary bark (with friendly tail wagging) was guaranteed to earn him a bone or too and he played it for all it was worth. After he heard of Moose's death the electric meter reader spent 15 minutes talking to my husband about the games he and Moose would play and how much fun they had.
We live in the country on several acres and he made quick friends with some of the other dogs out here, even had a thing going with the female lab next door who followed her twin boys every time they came over to play with our son. While the kids were playing in the house the 2 of them would stroll around the yard and pond or take a nap under a tree in the lawn. Sometimes at night we could hear them softly barking back and forth to each other.
He had some trouble with his hind legs, ended up being arthritis in the knees. We had to try and keep him from following the kids when they were riding their bikes or he would run himself so hard that later in day he had trouble with those first few steps when getting up. Because of his knee problem he received special treatment at the kennel while we were on vacation that year. The lady who ran the kennel fell in love with him, informed me of all the treats he really liked and that she was positive he had some black & tan hound in him along with the lab and rottwieller. Made perfect sense to us due to his goofy personality and occasional howls.
He spent many summers camping with us. He loved kids and was never harsh with them even when they got a little rough. He was very protective of us too, watching every move a stranger would make and sometimes growling under his breath when he knew I felt uneasy. Once I left him outside by mistake during a flash thunderstorm, he was hiding under the trailer while we quickly tried to cover things up and get inside and I forgot he was still out. He was so afraid of storms I felt so awful.
If he didn't get a cookie from the gas station when you got a treat for yourself he gave you the big sad eyes until you went back inside and got him one. It was that or have him start drooling so bad you couldn't eat yours for the guilt, lol.
DH took him up north to our property several months ago. He knew Moose would wear himself out trying to follow the 4-wheeler so he made a platform for him to ride on in the front. He really enjoyed the ride. The sheriff just waved at them as they were driving on the edge of the road (illegal in MI) to visit a neighbor.
That was the last time Moose was away from home. I had stopped taking him camping last year. With hind legs that didn't bend he never could jump up in the truck by himself. I was afraid he would hurt himself getting out. At 14 years of age he was still young at heart but the ol' body wasn't doing so good. He had several tumors by now, the most troublesome were the 2 on his feet and another on his front leg. He also was having small tremors when he slept and some labored breathing.
Though we might have had him in our lives for a couple more months we chose to let him go with love, dignity and respect. His personality wouldn't let him show pain. A close friend put it this way, "He's trying so hard to be normal." He has brought us closer together as a family and we'll miss him dearly.