You may have noticed over the past couple of days that I haven’t made too many comments on Monomakhos. That’s because we recently lost our precious little Boston Terrier and all of us here at Casa Monomakhos have been quite inconsolable.
Little Dowling was almost 10 years old. He was such a joy that his loss has left me personally unable to function on all thrusters. We’re starting to recover and even though he wasn’t a human being, I feel compelled to write something about him. If y’all will be so inclined to indulge me for a little bit, I’d much appreciate it.
Dowling, nee Mowgli, came into our lives about 10 years ago. I was having problems with a tenant and we came to a parting of ways. He told me that his new landlord wouldn’t accept pets, and he had this little puppy who had just been weaned and potty-trained. He asked me if I could take him. Having grown up with dogs all my life, I jumped at the chance but my wife and sons would be another nut to crack. I said to myself, “I’m gonna get on my knees and if he comes to me, I’ll take him.” He jumped into my arms and we’d been inseparable ever since.
My wife and sons had gone to visit the in-laws (I think it was Martin Luther King weekend) and I was stuck at home because of my job. Anyway, I knew about the time they’d pull up and so me and Mowgli sat on the stoop waiting for them. If you could have seen the look on their faces! Once they got out of the car the boys got excited. My wife Margaret was another story. She bent down and looked at him and said “you so ugly!” But I could tell that her heart was melting. She then said “Don’t get used to us, we’re gonna give you away.” She said the same thing the next day, then the next day. By then he’d won her over. Nobody really liked his name so I offered a compromise to my wife: “If we keep him, you can name him.” So she decided to name him after her elementary school, hence the extremely odd name of “Dowling.”
What can I say about Little Mr. Dowling and his adventures? He was the funniest, happiest little mutt I ever knew. If his previous owner hadn’t snipped his tale, he’d have been wagging it full-time. Because of my work schedule I couldn’t spend as much time as I wanted to so I took him with me pretty much everywhere I could get away with it. At first we kept him outside but in no time at all he had the run of the house. He’d sleep in his little bed under the buffet and snore like an old man. Guests really got a kick out of that. At night, I’d lay in my easy chair and put him on my belly and in no time we’d fall asleep. His adventures were legendary. During the days when we worked we’d leave him outside and this gave him time to act according to his primordial instincts. Any time he killed a rat he’d lay it at our back doorstep so we could see it and congratulate him. He was definitely a character. One of my favorite memories was watching him run to me at full speed. He had such a goofy grin.
I knew something was wrong the past couple of weeks as he wasn’t as peppy as he used to be. I chalked it up to age. His appetite was the same and loved going on walks with us. Just a little slower. I took him to the vet to kennel him for two nights because we were going to be out of town over the holidays. There was nothing untoward and I’m sure they would have said something.
The night before he died, we were watching the OSU-Stanford game and noticed that he wasn’t completely himself. As I went up to bed, he started to follow me but as he rounded the corner, he didn’t want to navigate the stairs which was a first, and he looked at me in a forlorn way. I said my good-nights from the top of the stairs as I always do and he turned and went to his bed. In the morning, I got up to let him out and noticed he was moving rather slowly. I poured his food but he didn’t even go to the plate — another first for him. He went to one of his favorite chairs in the living room and looked up at it, as if wanting to jump into it, but something seemed to stop him. I picked him up and put him in my lap but he wasn’t comfortable so I put him back down. I turned on the fireplace, which is where we’d often find him sleeping in the wintertime and went upstairs to change to for work. When I came down I notice that he was lying down as he had many times before but that his eyes were open. I bent over to pet him but noticed he wasn’t breathing. He was dead.
My older son had already gone to work so I woke up Mikey and gave him the news. By the time he got downstairs tears had already formed in his eyes. I then went to break the news to Margaret and she burst into tears. Anyway, we decided to bury him in the back yard where he seemed to have so much fun.
His daily life guided our family’s rituals. Since I was the earliest riser in my family, it was my job to let him out to go do his business and then feed and water him. If I didn’t have to drive too far, I’d put him on my lap while we watched the morning news, drinking my coffee. Whenever I got home, I’d sit in the mud room and take off my shoes and I invariably heard the tap-tap-tap of his little claws on the hardwood floor. It’s little things like that which I find myself missing so very much. So much so that sometimes I don’t want to go home just to avoid not hearing his little panting. Mornings aren’t so bad because even though I terribly miss our morning ritual, I’ve replaced it with another one –going to his grave in the back yard and talking doggie like I used to while I drink my coffee. Do I cry? Yeah, like a baby.
I know we shouldn’t anthropomorphize animals but it’s hard not to love a good dog. And he was definitely that and more –a precious member of our family. Rest in peace Dear Companion.