I’ve lost a muse

She wasn’t the smartest or most athletic mutt in the world, but she wasn’t an idiot, either, and if dogs could play pickup basketball, I bet Mandy could have held her own (unlike me). She was our pet for eleven years, and she died yesterday. We were preparing ourselves for this for a while. Mandy was full grown when we adopted her, which meant she could have been as old as fifteen, and for a chow-shepherd mix, that’s kind of old.

Mandy loved the snow. Just look at her, all Chewbacca-like.

Mandy loved the snow. Just look at her, all Chewbacca-like.

So, I thought I was prepared. Old dogs die. Puppies are born. Circle of life. Don’t be stupid. But when she just kind of drifted away in my arms, just melted into oblivion, she took a part of me with her. A small part–a part that will easily heal with the passage of a little time, but I’ll never be quite the same person again. Hey, are any of us?

That dumb dog had a way of making me feel so stupid with that wise visage of hers.

That dumb dog had a way of making me feel so stupid with that wise visage of hers.

Our kids were out of town with relatives for the Independence Day weekend, so we had to break it to them. My ten-year-old cried quietly (can I even say he took it like a man?), but watching my eight-year-old’s realization that Mandy was never coming back, watching his face screw up with tears, crying about how he lost his buddy? Wow, that was hard. It was like losing her all over again just hours later.

How is it that dogs can smile when they really can't?

How is it that dogs can smile when they really can’t?

I’m not going to miss poop duty, or muddy paw prints when it rains, or the clots of dog fur that got everywhere, or the occasional (very occasional) bursts of nonsense barking that I can only attribute to teenage vampires lurking somewhere near the house. But I will miss my dog, and I’m glad that she was around for the start of my writing career. She appears in quite a few of my stories. Or a fictionalized version does, anyway.

She was “Freya” in “Bast“, which appears in WHAT FEARS BECOME. She was “Harp” in LOSING TOUCH. She’s even a lot of the dog that plays a fairly significant supporting role in my current novel, LAKE WASHEGAMA. The irony of it is, the dog in that story, “Cash”, dies, but I’m happy to report that Mandy passed away much more peacefully. I was glad to be with her at the end. I suppose that’s all I could have really asked for, after the eleven years she gave us, through the birth of our two boys, layoffs and unemployment, several career changes, hospital stays and major surgeries, she was there for all of it.

Thanks, Mandy. You will live forever in my stories and in my heart.

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10 Responses to “I’ve lost a muse”

  1. So sorry for your loss, Christian. I know all to well what you will miss and that no words can make it any easier. Take care.

    • Thanks, Dan. I really thought I wasn’t going to turn all to mush like I have. She was special because she was mine.

      • Lost 2 in the past 2 years. Had them both for 14 years. They were my kids (Golden & Springer) . Life will never be the same, but life goes on. I now have 2 Springer puppies. New stories to write. I wish you well.

      • Sorry to hear about your two, Dan. Glad to hear you are happy with your pups, and I’m sure I’ll be happy again, too. But it’ll be an adjustment.

  2. richardlarsen@comcast.net Says:

    Chris:

    Dogs are special creatures – all of them.  Yes, you can live without them, just not as well.  Like it says on the plaque above the door to my office, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole”.  When the time comes, I hope that you can see your way past your grief induced preconceptions and give some other canine a chance to help make your lives whole again.  Maybe there is another muse out there for you.

    Dad

  3. She’s adorable. Its hard to loose a friend like that, I feel for you.

  4. It took me until now to read this because I knew it would make me cry…it still did.

    So sorry for your loss. Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2014 21:09:31 +0000 To: novots@hotmail.com

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