This morning I woke to find out that my dog, Mac, passed away late last night surrounded by my family in New York. I spent most of today feeling sad and thinking about all he had meant to me. I took the kids to the park this afternoon to get out of the house and clear my head. It was a beautiful day outside and all I could think of was how much Mac would have loved it. How he would have been sitting in the grass with his paws crossed like a gentleman, with his nose tipped up into the wind, the little white patch on his chin, the bump on his head, his sad brown eyes. It is difficult to imagine I will never see him again. That we will never share a day like this again this side of heaven. It's been so long since we have.
My sister and I brought Mac home when he was just a little puppy. We chose him because his head was bigger than his body and because of his sad eyes. We thought it funny that we would have a boy in a house that had for so long been "girls only" including all our pets. He was trouble from the start. Mostly, he was misunderstood. If you didn't really know him- if you had only heard about his antics- you would have never known what a good boy he could be. But he was. He looked out for all of us. It is true what they say. There are some pets who are more loyal than people.
Mac was my buddy through so many seasons of life, mostly the really rough ones. After my back surgery, I remember how he'd crawl up into my bed each night and lay there. He'd keep watch over me all night long unaware that most nights he made it very hard for me to get physically comfortable. Still, it was a comfort to have him by my side. When I decided to move to Virginia, he seemed to feel almost betrayed. He sat for days next to my suitcase as though he knew it meant I was leaving him. This picture always makes me laugh because it fully depicts how my pets took it when I decided to move out on my own. Mac was so angry that he chewed the wood right off of the wall. While I was away, I was told, he slept on the floor in my room day after day, waiting to see if I would come back. I didn't for a very long time. The next time I returned for a short visit, he wanted nothing to do with me. Would barely look at me. Would growl and "side look" me if I so much as said his name. I know it sounds silly but ask anyone in my family and they will tell you the same thing. He never forgave me for leaving him. He held a grudge.
Through it all, Mac always had his "wife" Lucy by his side. From the start they were inseparable. I'll always remember when we decided to split them up - when Mac went away for a while - and the day Lucy watched Mac being taken away. As he walked away, being led by his leash down the stairs, she blinked her eyes and then threw up all over the floor in front of the glass door to our porch. But it was not long before I heard his heavy footsteps like horse hooves galloping through the house. He ran up the stairs and pounced on me in my bed, licking my face. The only one more overjoyed than Mac was Lucy. Regardless of the fact that they lived apart these past few years, they were inseparable until the day he died.
The last time I saw Mac, I had no reason to believe it would be the last time. He held my hand like old times but he still wouldn't really look me in the eye. He let me rub his head and talk to him without growling but it only lasted a few minutes before he walked away and threw himself on the floor with a big huff. I joked with my family that it was progress. I said "Goodbye Mackie," careful not to inflect my voice to the sing-song level that seemed to open old wounds and caused him to growl. I rubbed the bump on the top of his head glad that we were making improvement.
Noah was fascinated with both my dogs from the moment he first saw them. He was so enamored with all of our pets that Michael and I decided to take my 19 year old cat, Trixie, back to Virginia with us for him this past October. It's hard to believe that my cat, who still looks so much like a kitten in her old age, has seen me through graduating middle school, high school, college, law school, getting married, having a baby - all of it.
Trixie, we called "the general." She always kept Mac in line. They had a rivalry between them that never ceased to crack me up. There were times when they would just "stand off" against each other, staring each other down to see who would falter first. It was always Mac. I still remember little Trixie with her claw-less paws slapping Mac's face repeatedly, like a prized fighter holding nothing back. He stood there and took it as though he did not understand that he was 10 times her size and capable of putting her in her place with so little effort. Although he had his wild moments, he was oddly polite. Although I was a little nervous as to how Mac would react to Noah, he was always very gentle with him, despite his misgivings towards me that he'd carried throughout his life.
I always said I would never get another pet again after having lost my first Boston Terrier Baby. I didn't want to have to deal with that kind of pain again. Noah is so fond of dogs and loved Mac, Lucy and Trixie, but the thought of putting him through that kind of loss gave me pause. Still, I know this is a part of life and though I'm sad, tonight I try to be grateful. Grateful that these pets, who were such a large part of my childhood and younger days got to be a part of Noah's. What a great blessing.
RIP Mackie. I love you.