A few years back, before I started this blog, we experienced a year I refer to as: the-year-my-heart-froze-over-where-pets-are-concerned. In the space of 5 months, we lost all of our dogs.

Odin - the gentle giant English Mastiff, who served as Saturday morning pillow to the kids while they watched cartoons. He was an early birthday present for Mr. Clean. I brought him home on April Fool's Day. He would entertain himself for Hours, pushing his overturned food bowl back and forth across the driveway, flipping it up into the air and then flying across the yard, pushing it with his nose. We lost him to a freak case of heat stroke that summer.

Astarte (Asta) - my lovely, beautiful German Shepherd. Lord was she gorgeous; a red sable with so much spunk. We called her "shark" for the way she'd attack sticks thrown into the pond. We had to take her down there on a 30' lead or we couldn't get her out of the water. She looked like a little red fox when I first brought her home. She had a ball/prey drive that was, frankly, a little scary sometimes. She looked like a Thoroughbred when she ran. Early that fall, we found a cancerous tumor on her lung that was blocking her esophogus. We lost her just before Thanksgiving.

And then Ivan - Asta's half-brother, a black German Shepherd - a goofy boy who wanted to please everyone. Ball hound extraordinaire. He never tired of catching balls and carried around a soccer ball that was HIS. He'd do just about anything for just one more belly scratch. He thought he was still a puppy and never ceased trying to fit his 80+ lbs. into my lap. He'd had a perianal fistula that we'd battled successfully for almost a year. After Asta went, the fistula came back and then he just gave up. Stopped eating. Stopped caring. He died just before Christmas.

I swore then... never to give my heart to another pet.

And then Merlin and Maddox came into our lives - cute, squirmy little miniature Aussie boys, brothers who acted like twins. I distanced myself. I didn't fall in love. At least for a few months. Eventually, they got to me and I totally caved. Their antics, their eager little faces. Merlin - the jock; Maddox - the professor... both always up to no good. They sit on each other, pushing and shoving, in order to be the one to get the first ear scratches. The word "cheese" elicits butt wiggles like you've never seen before. They catch snakes, mice, moles, and evil alien frogs who want to do their humans harm.

Someone left the gate open Wednesday night. The stupid, stupid freaking gate. And though they know better, they've been taught better... over and over and over... they left the yard.

Merlin's barking alerted us that something was wrong outside. It wasn't the "oh, we've found another snake" bark or the "someone's at the gate" bark or even the "red alert - frog in the yard" bark... it was frantic and I didn't recognize it.

He took us to the top of small road where it meets the larger farm road. That's where we found Maddox. Gone. A car? A truck? I don't know. Something.

My little professor is gone. The one who dreamed of being superdog when he slept, the one with the serious, sad eyes... the one who I claimed over and over was not my favorite. Gone. Just like that. He was only 2, still a puppy. He didn't chase balls and didn't play with toys. He liked to stick his tongue in your ear any time you leaned down low enough for him to get you. He liked to jump on the couch and sit at the top, curled around your neck, or on your chest, or on your face... as close as he could possibly get to you. He'd talk every time you pet him; chattering away in his doggy-speak about how he'd waited all day for you to scratch him in just. that. spot. He groomed himself like a cat and then, when he was done, would groom his brother - taking care to remove each sticker burr and place it in a pile next to him. He loved Doodlebug the best. He followed him everywhere he went, always looking smart in his tuxedo fur coat. Though labeled the "quiet one," he was first to attack snakes who'd ventured into the yard... and had been bitten 5 times by copperheads for his troubles. But he was scared of Schatzi, the psycho-kitty. Would not even look her in the eye. He'd turn his head and pretend to look at the clouds every time she walked by him. Gone.

Merlin knows. We think he must have seen it happen. They never ventured away from each other. He's quiet, sleeping a lot... but he's eating and that's good. We're keeping him in the house for now and standing outside with him for potty breaks. He goes to the gate and sits... not waiting... exactly. I don't know... He sleeps by the front door, ignoring his favorite spot on the couch completely. I'm afraid to let him go outside on his own.

He wagged his butt (no tail) for the first time, today. I'm hopeful, tentatively hopeful, that he'll be okay. But he's never been alone and my heart aches for him every time I look into his eyes, no longer full of that youthful boyish exuberance which defined him. His grief is palpable and I don't know how to fix it... but I'm trying my damndest.

We loved you well, Maddox and we'll always remember you. I'm sorry. I'm sorry no one checked the f'in gate. Safe travels. Please tell all my babies I said hello.

| edit post
2 Responses
  1. Deb R Says:

    Oh no. Crap, crap, crap!! I'm SO sorry. This breaks my heart for you.

  2. katkin Says:

    Oh honey.......I'm so very very sorry.