Saturday, December 20, 2008
Not Goodbye. See You Later.
We were told that Muttley was a good German dog, but I didn’t quite believe it. It was the summer of ‘97 and some friends of the family were moving to Germany. They’re world-travelers, as it were. We’d see them every year or so and they bring us stories. And that one summer, they brought us a dog. A German dog, they told us.
They’d had the dog for six years and couldn’t stand the idea of taking him through customs again. They keep animals quarantined for months. They’d rather he have a stable home, so my parents agreed to take him in. Muttley was a curious little ball of white fluff. He didn’t seem German at all.
He would notoriously dig through garbage cans, looking not for scraps, but rather for used tissues. And he’d often pull boxes of new tissues off of end-tables and tug out the individual pieces out one by one. So, as a result, he usually smelled of Kleenex. I’d never noticed before having him around that Kleenex have a smell. Well, they do. I have Muttley to thank for that.
Muttley got older, as dogs are apt to do. I got older, too. I got a job. I got married. I moved out. I lost my job. I got divorced. I moved back in. But Muttley was still there. Over the last few years, his hearing dimmed a bit. His eyesight went completely. But he was still the same silly affable dog I always knew and loved.
This year, he turned 17, which seems like an eternity for a dog. I didn’t even know him his entire life. But I knew him for most of it. And watching him fade away the last few weeks has been heartbreaking for myself and my entire family.
Muttley died today. Just an hour ago, actually. My mother is dealing with it by cleaning. My father dug a grave for him earlier this week, ten feet deep so he'll rest undisturbed. And me? I write. It's how I cope.
I’d like to think that I got most of it out of my system yesterday, knowing this was coming any hour, any minute, but I’m often wrong. We don’t get over things like this. We just learn to accept. So, for me, it’s not goodbye to Muttley. It’s a see you later, Muttley. I know I’ll see him again, someday. I’ll see him again, somewhere.
(The photo above was taken sometime in late 1997...)