Thursday, September 14, 2006


"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers, 1897-1935

The time came a few years back when I had to put my dog Lacy down. She had been deteriorating steadily for several months and had become a bag of bones, weighing half her prime weight of eighty-five pounds, could not hear, did not recognize us, and lay, and just shook. She had not eaten in three or four days, had not moved in two, before I decided enough was an enough. She was totally in a different world, and if I could have changed places with her, I would have wanted out.

I could not cap her – always thought I could, since I put a stray down once that had a mangled infected leg, but Lacy was my girl. I loved that dog the moment I saw her, even though I first thought she was a cat, and you know how I hate cats! But I saw her at a flea market and she was black/white/gray stripped like a cat, and had one eye that was half-white. She was a very unique blend of Australian Shepherd and Husky, and there was no way I could take her life. I had to take her to the vet and hold her until she released her final breath. She does not hurt any more, but I do.

She survived numerous stitches, broken bones, and countless dogfights before learning how to protect herself. Lacy protected our home for nearly twelve years from evil UPS drivers, windshield installers, numerous cats and opossums, one groundhog, a few snakes and squirrels, and other sneaky neighborhood yard squatters!

She always made me a part of her kills, particularly the ‘possums! She would begin by barking strangely and cause me to pick up my shotgun and go outside to investigate. When I arrived, she would be circling the intruder waiting on me to be the diversion. Once the prehensile tailed, over grown, rat looked at me it was all over! Lacy lunged in and caught the ‘possum right behind the ears and locked on like a snapping turtle waitin’ on thunder!

From that point on it was shake for 20 seconds, crush the neck bone, shake some more, then crush a rib or two, shake, and finally she ran her powerful mouth up and down the length of the body to ensure everything was broken. The popping sound was at once horrifying and satisfying to me. She would then release her hold and stand panting for several minutes as she nudged it a few times with her nose just to make sure. Believe me, it was dead – dead and not playing “possum”!

Lacy was the ultimate protective but gentle dog and you do not find them often. Usually, they are just mean without showing affection, or a complete puss, but she had it all.

The neighborhood will miss her, because she kept the peace, and I have yet to see another dog step up and assume the alpha role in the area.

Oh, I have another dog now and I love Baylee like my own child, but she is just a loving dog, afraid of her own shadow, but loves to chase and catch a ball, splash in the lake, and sit under you for hours begging to be rubbed. I have to protect her most times, but there is just no aggression in black labs, even eighty pound ones. I often have to warn the UPS man to watch out or he will get licked to death!

Missy was the first dog I can clearly remember, and there is no photograph of her in any of the family shoeboxes of archived pictures. She was an English Shepherd of medium build with a loving manner. She was not aggressive either, but was very protective. Many times when I was around seven or eight years old she got between danger and me, especially if other dogs were around.

Once while I was exploring the woods near my neighborhood, Missy got in front of me just as I was about to step over a log that had fallen across the path I was following. Every time I raised my leg to step over, she pushed between the log and me and barked. One of those moments when you want to say, “What is it Lassie? Is Timmy okay?”

I did not realize the possibility of a snake being on the other side for several years, but looking back on the incident, as soon as I changed directions she allowed me to proceed, but I could not step over the log. There had to have been something – some danger – there. You will never convince me otherwise.

One other incident involving Missy stands out in my memory, and that occurred during a thunderstorm.

You know how parents put their fears into their children (from Pink Floyd’s “Mother”), well; I overheard a conversation between my mom and dad about how metal, trees, and dogs attract lightning. Well founded or not, I heard it and believed it.

One day Missy and I went on a mile walk to a nearby store when a summer thunderstorm came up suddenly. I ran to a neighbor’s porch to get in out of the rain and of course Missy came with me. Just as a loud clap of thunder rattled the immediate area I remembered, “…dogs attract lightning”!

Oh my God - I started shoving at Missy and screaming at her to get away! I regret the incident, even though Missy did not understand, but the more I pushed the closer she wanted to get. After all, she was as afraid as I was!

It was terrifying to me, but summer storms pass on as quickly as the come, so it was not long before the storm calmed and I saw my mom coming in the car. She stopped and opened the back door and Missy and I jumped in. The only other thing I can remember was being a little mad at my mother for not coming sooner.

Missy developed some sort of “running fit” (as it was explained to me) a few months later and ran into a man’s house during a storm. I heard that the man killed her, but we never did get the real story, but I still grieve.

Anyway, I was just missing my girls today and wanted to say a few words about them. I know in my heart-of-hearts, that if there is a heaven, a place where you are supposed to by happy, then I will see all my girls again someday. Without them, I could not be truly happy, and it would truly be a sad place.


Ron Southern said...

That's right, rip my heart out. My best dog (Australian Shepherd, male) has been gone so long I can't count, and I miss him still.

Mushy said...

Slowly, I'm burrowing down into that hard outer shell.

Not a better dog than an Australian Shepherd - unless you're looking for total submission, then get a lab.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Lacy sounds like a fine dog. They all do. So far I have written about two of my dogs from the past but cannot bring myself to write about the two most recently deceased dogs. Maybe I'll write about the four living mutts I have.

Mushy said...

I love to read about them Patrick. I'll probably check your site out often, but just in case, let me know when you do.

Fathairybastard said...

I think those are almost universal feelings. Last one I had to have put down, I insisted on holding him till he was gone. I'll always miss him, and all the others.

Mushy said...

Yes, I held Lacy until she was gone...very traumatic for me. I know what it's like for convicted murderers to die after watching her last few labored breaths.

Fathairybastard said...

Thing is Rascal was old and all tense when they gave him the injection. As he passed, he loosened up and was his old self for a moment. I'll never get over that. Jesus, yer depressin' the shit outa me.

Dana said...

My cat, Tigger, died almost two years ago. Got breast cancer, believe it or not, and I waited until after Christmas to have her put to sleep. But we never made it to the vet. She died in my arms just as I was getting into the car. I really miss her.

Dana said...

Oh, and thanks for your comment on my blog. I added your link.

I was White Trash when White Trash wasn't Cool said...

What a beautiful post. Reminded me of some beloved pets from the past who are now gone.

Thanks for commenting on my blog -- I hate that beta thing and if I'd known how awful it was gonna be, I'd never have switched to it! Auggghh!

Mushy said...

Thanks to Dana and Ms. Trash for visiting.

Dana - right back at you with the link.

Always glad to trade links, especially if they do it first! That means a lot to someone who writes just for feedback. I had a boss once that told me I'd work for applause - and she was right. Kind'a sad, huh?

Debbie said...

You sound like me, and my hubby, we love dogs. I had to take our cocker spaniel to the vet and have her put to sleep a few years back. It was awful. I cried and cried, but he was almost 15 years old, and there was nothing else to do.

We have other does, and I know one day unless they die a natural death, I will have to go through it again. I dread it.

phlegmfatale said...

I am so totally with you on this subject. My doglet is my little beam of sunshine and a big chunk of the heart of me. She'll be 15 in October, and i hope I'm blessed to have her for a few more years, because I'll be a tragic mess when I lose her. Benjamin Franklin said it was beer, but I say Dogs are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Your pooches sound like they were/are superb beasties. Bless them.

Alisa said...

I feel for people who don't develop a love for dogs. They'll never know what it's like to have an unconditional best friend who loves you no matter what.

I agree with your quote. I better go where my best friends in life have gone, even if it's not heaven.

Loch said...

I was just browsing blogs today, and happily came upon yours. When I saw the pic of your Lacy, my breath was taken away; she could have been my beloved Pogo! The only discernable difference was ear carriage; Pogo's left ear pricked and the right flopped. I cried anew as I read your loving words; I will miss Pogo for the rest of my life, as I know you miss your Lacy and Missy. Thanks for sharing, and you may be assured that I will be visiting your blog often!

Mushy said...

I appreciate all these comments and the encouragement it gives me to write my true feelings.

Becky said...

I have to admit that I wasn't really a dog person, until I got my own with my Ex. When we divorced, I left her with him and was surprised at how much I'd come to care for her. As you know, I now have my two boys and I can't imagine what it's going to be like when I have to say good-bye to them, and they're fairly young right now as it is.