The Moosedawg’s Last Dance

You know the scene in Marley & Me when Marley’s so old he won’t go for a walk any more? Well, the Moosedawg, at 12, is almost there. When the cold weather hits, I think going walkies will be done and dusted. And the end won’t be too far away.

It’s sort of unreal when a dog is on his last dance. Especially one who was as big and smart and Moosey as this one — when we adopted the German Shepherd/Huntaway cross, he had a black face and hysterically LONG legs, like a baby moose.

Not that long ago, the annoyingly loud Moosedawg spent his every waking moment:


– slamming into our heavy wooden gate like the hounds of hell to let any passing dog know who be bad
– being on me like a shot if I went outside, LOUDLY saying with his eyes and his happy dance “WALKIES!!!”
– barking at dogs, noises, birds, trucks, the wind, various molecules, etc.
– or learning anything I wanted to teach him. Anything, well, except for the “SHUT UP” command. Huntaways don’t do shut up.

Then the age thing started showing up.

For about two years, Buddy has had to poop on our walks. At first, they just sort of popped out, guiltily. And being a great owner, I pounded him. Until I finally realized that, heh, he’s an 80-year-old man. He’s earned the right to poop whenever the mood strikes him. So I started bagging the moose-loads and moving on. He appreciated that.

Last month, he started stumbling around the yard, like a drunk. I figured he’d had a stroke, like our Shih-Tzus. Nope. The vet said the Moosedawg has cataracts and is losing his hearing. The huge benign growth on his abdomen is getting bigger. His hips are worsening, and the knee he blew out by slamming all evil-like into the gate hurts him.

Awhile back, the Moosedawg walked up to a big boy Golden Retriever, which reared up and got the better of him. A Golden Retriever besting the Moosedawg? I never thought I’d see the day. And a week or two later, Buddy snapped at a sweet young female German Shepherd that he’s played with before.

As the vet said, he’s surly because he’s in pain (hips, knee, back), and he can’t see or hear well. Fair enough. I’m getting like that, too.

The once mighty Moosedawg is also starting to go on “stand by” a lot. He’ll stand sideways in the driveway, “aimed” at the neighbors’ yard. Not moving. Not wagging. Not sniffing. Not barking. For long periods. With his brain on stand by.

But even now, the cute old Moosedawg has his moments.

He’s still 100 pounds and solid. He recently learned that if he turns sideways, blocks the stairs, and puts his weight against me, I have to stay longer downstairs to love on him. He discovered this accidentally, after he failed to cleanly turn around in a confined space. He sort of got stuck, like a rusty old semi-trailer truck that can’t turn as sharp as it used to.

Buddy showed his sense of humor yesterday. I scolded the garden bag man for coming into our yard unannounced. He said he’d called out, then decided to ignore our warning sign. I explained that Buddy didn’t hear so well but was still on the job. At that exact moment, the Moosedawg stuck his big ol’ moosehead into the garden bag man’s crotch just to say “hello”. I think his sex life passed before his eyes. Har.

Yep, he’s old, deaf and arthritic, but I have proof the Moosedawg can still dance, ever so gently.

In February, when the wife’s wild Tui bird, Twee Twee, had grown up and was about to leave us, it decided to playfully hop around as she watered it and the garden. Twee Twee also cheekily hopped around and under the Moosedawg, repeatedly. I doubt Buddy could see the black bird very well, and I bet he was thinking, “I know your wife likes this thing so I’ll dance with it. But really, if I smoosh it, IT’S NOT MY FAULT.”

So I sit here today, looking through a dog book, thinking about a Moosedawg “replacement”, as if there could ever be one.

And despite 12 years of barking and digging and pooping — and non-stop complaints from the wife about his moosely sins — I know we’ll all miss him. I know that one day pretty soon, I’ll have to cradle his big ol’ moosebutt in my arms as they put him to sleep. I just know the Moosedawg’s last dance is coming.

Remember to go here for free Hog Tweets at HogsAteMySister.

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12 Responses to “The Moosedawg’s Last Dance”

  1. BEL2009 says:

    Oh wow. Been there twice in the last few years. Our oldest German Shepherd and oldest golden retriever. Cried for days both times. One of each left (shepherds are all rescues) and had to regime our baby GSD with last move. Dogs are such a gift. Poop and all!

    • hams says:

      My mom said this about kids: “When they are little, they step on your feet. When they grow up, they step on your heart.”

      I guess it’s the same with Moosedawgs and Crack Puppies.

      Sigh.

  2. Steve says:

    Great story and cool big dog and bird. Wonder how Buddy would do with a Hobbit running around his yard?

  3. slk says:

    Bill,

    I feel you pain, the oldest in my “pack” of three dogs has a heart condition and I have been told he could go at any time, I just try and not think about it. Just so very happy that God made dogs. I sure do love them.Good luck!

    • hams says:

      The wife’s two sisters are here, too. When the Moosedawg karks it, he will be the fifth dog to go in the last three years. And our kids are all flying the coop, too. Sigh.

  4. Okiegirl says:

    Bill — now that I’ve investigated the “Huntaway” breed, I feel I haven’t wasted a Saturday. Their build seems similar to the American hounds — but I love that Moosedawg found a family that he could grow old with. SALOOT!

    • hams says:

      Yep, two-thirds of this family loves his moosebutt. The feminine one-third not so much. In fact, she has been known to draw an image of the Moosedawg, paws up, being cooked over an open campfire to communicate her unhappiness with said beast, who we would then try to keep out of harm’s way for a few days…

  5. LLS says:

    Great post, Bill, thanks. The image of that big guy dancing with that little bird is one I am going to carry with me. Here’s to the Moosedawg and the family who loves him!

    • hams says:

      Thanks. The Moosedawg now only lasts one lap around the block, panting a lot. And, though he once had MAJOR ATTITUDE for all male dogs (thanks to being raised in the dog pound), the old man now sort of makes that “don’t eat me” whimper when we pass the mastiff’s yard – which is wise as this animal is slightly larger than Steve Imhoff. Cycles of life…

  6. malm says:

    It’s tough to lose family members. WTH is a garden bag man? At one time we had eight dogs out here. Apparently someone ran an ad in the local newspaper that we would take strays………they kept showing up on our property. The “pack” at the time would kick the strays butt, then welcome them to the family. We’re down to two now. I doubt seriously if we ever have more than a little house dog in the future. I did enjoy our Shih Tzus. Don’t let Buddy suffer too long. Just another part of being a loving master.

    • hams says:

      Remember, our back yard is primordial jungle, filled with Hobbits and that. The wife is a keen gardener and needs the humongous garden bag to chuck in stuff. I, being mid-life with abs of pudding, need the garden bag man to come lift the sucker and take it away. Yip, I have a sister like Jill. She always took in strays, dogs and boys. Ahem.

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