Sunday, April 2, 2017

Our Mooshu

Waiting for results again. But this time, it's not my bloodwork in the lab. It's our almost 14 year old dog, Mooshu. The vet predicts lymphoma, based upon his giant tumor under his jowl. When I heard that, my heart lept. Seriously? He has to have it, too?

We've been through a lot together. 3 homes, 2 kids, 1 major illness, new cars, countless dog beds, dishes licked clean, crumbs inhaled, tap dances performed for food, trips to Pittsburgh with him nestled in the way back, snuggles, bowls of chicken and rice, cottage cheese, ear infections, walks with snow booties, quick pees, and so much love.

I don't know what I'll miss most. Will it be him sun bathing quietly? Whimpering in his sleep, dreaming about running after a squirrel?  Will it be the way he knows when I'm cutting carrots for lunches and he walks into the kitchen to see if I will share (I will)? The way he smells like stale corn chips when he curls up in front of the radiator in the winter? The way he knows when my mom is coming over and waits patiently at the door? Or how he gives my dad a better reaction than us when we return from vacation? It will probably be the way he lets the boys snuggle up against him, and how he has taught them to care for animals. How Judah and Zevi have never known life without him, a family fixture.

We knew he was getting old (we think 14 in July), but he's been around forever, so it's been impossible to imagine life or our family without him.

When Dan and I first rescued him 13 years ago, in April 2004, he was a scrawny, caramel and white speckled puppy at the SPCA in North Philly. We had just gone to look at the dogs there, not to actually bring one home. But I saw him and fell in love. We went home to sleep on it, and the next morning, we were back at the shelter when it opened. He stunk up the car, stunk up the house, destroyed brown paper bags and dog beds, learned not to eat too much sugar (that's a whole other story), loved food of all types (including cucumbers and lettuce), refused to go out in the rain, kept your feet warm under the dining room table, always knew which visiting child to sit next to (slash nudge into dropping food for him).

Mooshie wasn't super excited to welcome babies into the house. They were noisy and they crawled around his house. He once lifted his lip at Judah when he was about to crawl into his space under the table. I caught him and he caught it from me, and never did it again. Same exact thing happened when Zevi began to crawl. One warning, we nipped it. We never allowed any baby or child to mistreat Mooshu, nor did we let them walk around the house with food, taunting him with treats he couldn't (but eventually would) enjoy.

He's survived 2 bouts of chocolate poisoning, eating a few shoelaces (if you need to make your dog vomit, I can coach you through it) and seasonal bouts with hound dog ear infections. Before children, he lost a piece of his ear at the dog park (we still don't know how it happened), and I came home to what looked like a murder scene at the house, as he'd been shaking his cut ear every time the cut began to clot and itch. The vet hospital called us to come and get him as soon as he woke from his stitches because no one could think while Mooshie was howling.

Oh, the howl. Mooshu's bay was voted best of the Philly dog park in 2004. He liked to turn his head upside down and howl at his friends in the park. He howled to show his joy, to let everyone know he had arrived, to establish his presence. You could hear him howling from a few blocks away and know he had met another dog on his walk.

Our first baby, I will miss his reassuring presence in the house. I will miss him following me into whatever room I'm working in, cleaning in, cooking in, talking on the phone in. I'll miss his clickety clacking around the house, his waiting for a missing family member before proceeding on a walk, the way he communicates with us, staring, motioning, whining, and more recently, panting, until we finally understand what he needs.

And now that we know what he needs, it's so hard to say goodbye.

We will love him forever and ever, our Mooshie.