We in the Katana family are a little dog crazy, if you couldn’t already tell. Growing up, we always had at least two in the house. My sister has two large labs, I had a boxer in college (who now lives with my parents…she’s much happier there with the yard) and my brother had two boxers while I was in high school. Weejes and Mojo lived with all of us in my parent’s house, so while they were technically his dogs, we all shared the responsibilities of taking care of them.
Since Weejes death last December, Mojo’s health has been declining. He had been diagnosed with cancer and depression seemed to set in at the loss of his friend. Bo decided to get another puppy for everyone’s sake. Gidget entered the family sometime last spring…she is a pug and if you can imagine it, she’s even crazier than Luna.
The new puppy seemed to raise Mojo’s spirits. He had a new buddy…albeit one that would chew on his neck, but a buddy nonetheless. The last time I visited Mojo, he seemed well. He had energy, he was jumping around, wiggling his butt and tail, licking my face…and I’m lucky that that is how I get to remember him.
I think you can see where this is going–Mojo died earlier this week. He wasn’t necessarily young, but he wasn’t old either…about 9 or 10. For boxers, this is the typical lifespan. I want to think he went peacefully, in his sleep, but there really is no way of knowing. It happened while no one was home. My heart breaks for Bo and Christina and the kids…but it is also somewhat a relief. I think we all know that cancer is no easy disease. It’s painful. And there is no morphine to give your dogs to ease that pain. So I am relieved that we no longer have to watch as he winces, finding a comfortable spot to lie down. I’m relieved that we don’t have to see the pain in his eyes as he pants, exhausted from his morning walk
But I will miss you, old man. I’ll miss that sloppy tongue sliding across my cheek. I’ll miss your short stubbly fur that always got on all my clothes. I’ll miss your asthma–that wheezing noise you made after chasing after me in the yard. I’ll miss how I used to slip you pieces of my steak under the table and how Bo and I would bring home entire Big Mac’s from McDonald’s just for you. I’ll miss cuddling on the couch with you and how I used to sneak you upstairs to sleep in my room with me. Then I would set my alarm an hour earlier just to bring you back downstairs before everyone else woke up.
I’m not a very good Catholic in the sense that I A) Believe that animals have souls and B) Believe that those souls will be reincarnated. I believe that Mojo and Weejes will both come back to us in some other form. I believe we will have our puppies back again someday.
A dear friend of mine and a fellow dog lover sent me this poem long ago when Weejes died. He and I share a love of poetry and literature. And I believe Kipling says it better than I ever could:
The Power Of The Dog
By Rudyard Kipling
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find–it’s your own affair–
But…you’ve given your heart for a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!);
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart for the dog to tear.
We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ‘em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long–
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?