Moose "O'Malley" Sanborn, Dog.
July 7, 1983 to April 15, 1996 Rest in Peace, Moose, and know that I will remember you fondly and dearly and miss you always.
Moose came to live with us when he was only 7 weeks old. He was so small that he had his first bath in a bucket. The average male Irish Setter weighs 65 to 75 pounds. Moose, at one point weighed in at 95 pounds. He was all heart and loved people. They seemed to instinctively know. Strangers would come up to him and pet him or would give complements on his behavior and bearing.
During his first year he was a holy terror...very unruly. At one point, he was so horrible that he was on his way to the dog pound. He did eventually settle down and by 9 months, even though still a behavior problem, we were able to start to teach him tricks. He learned to beg, speak, sit, lay down, play dead, roll over, dance, and to allow food to be placed around him and not touch it untill he was told that it was OK. He was so gentle that if he were given a piece of meat, I could reach in his mouth and take it away. He never did learn to stay though. He hated water, so giving him a bath was a real treat.
His understood vocabulary was amazing. He understood out, in, car, go for a ride in the car, no, go do something, come, and a lot more I just can't remember. Some words like "go" we had to start spelling if we were going to use them, such as "Would you GO to the store to get some milk". If we didn't spell the word, he would think that he was going to get to go. Eventually he even learned how to understand what we spelled and we ended up just saying "the G word" if we meant go or "the C word" if we meant car, etc. When he wanted out, he would actually mouth the word "out" and make an almost human sound like "out," except he could never get the "t" part correct. At times he would come up to us and make mumbling growls and grunts for a minute or more at a time and I just know that he thought he was talking with us and we, of course, talked back.
He was able to stay in the yard and didn't need a leash or fence to keep him from leaving. He would stay unless he was told he could leave. When taking him for a walk, I would put the leash on him and he would promptly take the leash in his mouth and prance down the sidewalk to the corner and wait for me. I would indicate which direction we were going next and he would walk across the street with me then take off down the sidewalk to the next corner where he would wait again.
Moose had several medical problems that he endured without much complaint. He had skin problems where he would get blood filled ...well lets just say he ended up having to take antibiotics twice a day for many years. At one point, I had to take some of the same kind of antibiotics and it gave me diarrhea and upset stomach. Imagine what they did to Moose and he didn't even understand why we stuffed the pills down his throat all the time. He also had seizure disorder and had to be on antiseizure medication from one year old on. Then there were the constant eye infections that he had to get drops and ointment in his eyes for and...well.
I have a ton of stories I could share about this wonderful animal and so could my wife, but there just isn't enough time or space to do it.
Moose lived almost 13 years. In the end, I had to decide to have him killed (This is my view of what I did to him. I know there are more pleasant euphemisms for this like put him to sleep, but the reality is that he was killed. I can justify doing it, but the sting is no less by calling it something different). I loved him and I think he loved me in his own dog way. I think he trusted me also. By killing him, I ended that relationship and it makes me so overwhelmingly and terribly sad.
Moose became progressively weaker in his hind legs and eventually was not able to get up and move around. I knew that someday I would have to have him killed, but I didn't know what day that would be or what it would take to let me know that the day had arrived. The day I came home and he could barely get up and fell down while trying to go to the bathroom and had to be carried in the house was the day I knew. The day I dreaded.
Moose died painlessly and bravely. The vet came to our house and gave him an injection which put him to sleep and stopped his heart. I laid on the floor with him and petted him and talked to him while he died. A good friend allowed us to bury him on his property in a grove of trees. We eventually planted a rhodadendron over his grave. We have since moved from the area. I often hope he is resting comfortably up there in Doggie Heaven and I know that he is being a good dog.
P.S. My wife, Linda, cried when she read this. Sorry. I hope it doesn't make you cry too, but, I hope it conveys some of the feelings I had and still have for this former person in an Irish Setter dog costume.
This page is sitting on a Yahoo-GeoCities lot.