It is with a heart breaking into a million pieces that I say goodbye to my best friend today. He has been consistently loyal, steadfast, funny, and loved my boys as much as I do. He picked us a little over 14 years ago to give his undying love to, share our lives and cover us with fluffy white hair.
There was no question about having him join our family. When we walked in to meet him and his mother, he promptly toddled over on oversized fluffy feet, plopped down next to my seven-year-old eldest son, leaned his entire body against my sons leg and looked up and him as if to say, “I’ve been waiting for you. Let’s head home now.” There was no doubt, he had picked us and thus began a fourteen year five-way love affair between a red and white Siberian Husky and his family. He gave us his lifetime of love and we were indescribably lucky to have him in our lives for that all too brief period of time.
I have owned several dogs in my lifetime, but there was something extra special about our Mojo. We called him the “Jerry Seinfeld” of dogs because he simply could not rest until everyone he met became his friend. This applied to both people and other dogs – which occasionally earned him warning growls from the four legged types. Personal space was not a term he could comprehend and in winning over the affections of complete strangers of the human variety, he would frequently blast his way between their legs from the backside so he could stick his big furry head straight up the front side, smile engagingly up at them and say “Howdy”!
Our Mojo had also never heard that there was supposed to be a dominant member of every herd. He was the quintessential diplomat and never once in over fourteen years growled, snarled or even gave a dirty to look to anyone. The couple times other dogs attacked him he did not even defend himself, he just looked at them as if to say, “Dude, you bit my ass! What the hell is that all about? I’m a lover not a fighter.” He simply loved every one with the exception of the squirrels who raided the bird feeder and the moles that mocked him from below ground until he was forced into digging holes all the way to China despite the fact he knew he would get in trouble. He once dug a seven foot long trench through a garden bed in a desperate frenzy to save us from that pesky mole. He was helpful like that.
In his younger years, Mojo was a typical teenage thrill seeker. Like all Siberian Huskies – he’s born to run, run fast and not necessarily run in a loop that includes returning to home. We were diligent about keeping him within his fenced ½ acre play complex, but accidents happen – especially with a houseful of little boys whom occasionally forget to latch gates or close doors. He would race gleefully from our property as if all the bunnies in the world were in front of him. We would all frantically grab cheese from the fridge (his favorite food and the one spoken word which sometimes would permeate the adrenalin of his race) and run pell mell through the neighborhood after him waving blocks of havarti and cheddar shouting “CHEESE MOJO!” while the neighbors looked on as if we had gone insane. We had more than one occasion where strangers either brought him back to our door or called us after having discovered him several miles from home. He would always look sheepish and exhausted and after we chastised him and hugged him fiercely, he would apologize for his deviant behavior with his eyes, begging to be forgiven until the next time the lure of the unlatched gate taunted him.
Mojo was my constant running and walking companion up until his arthritis in his hips became so fierce that we were forced to shuffle progressively shorter and shorter distances from our original six mile jaunts. In the past couple years, we reduced our mileage to the end of the street and back, then later a couple houses down and back and lately to the mailbox and back. He was ALWAYS game to go and even when he was starting to drag a back foot kept his stallion attitude for all 25 yards down the driveway. During his glory years we had a dog walking group and his six-mile loop with his best friends striding beside him were the highlights of his week. Despite his size and wolf like appearance – he always hid behind his friends when errant dogs would bark at us along the way, which was especially entertaining when he ducked behind his ten -pound terrier pal who would staunchly defend him.
He loved his boys most of all. He willingly followed them anywhere and was their best friend and loyal confidante. The day my oldest son went away to college – Mojo went down to his basement bedroom despite his fear of steep stairs, got up on his boy’s bed and laid there dejectedly for a full day. In ensuing years, we would pack up his boy to head back to university and after their last hugs goodbye Mojo would go lay on his dog bed
face the wall and would not acknowledge any of us for several hours. He was such a funny sweet old dog and when his boy would return home would hardly know how to greet him. Sometimes he would just stand and stare from an adjoining room as if he was seeing a mirage. Reunions frequently were spent just lying on the floor together with matching smiles on their faces, the dog seeming to say “Oh THERE you are. I’ve been waiting.”
My youngest son shared a special relationship with him as well. Mojo joined us the day before my baby boy’s fourth birthday and consequently we have first day of school photos with the two of them every year from Preschool through Senior Year in High School. The two could be seen romping through the back yard or diving through the plastic wading pool together in the summer when big brother was off with friends and when they got older Mojo would provide appreciative audience comments for trampoline athletics. Mojo was also both boys’ best music critic and would regularly join in “singing” while they played their tenor sax and trumpet. A bit of trivia; it’s very hard to play a musical instrument without giggling while being serenaded by a Siberian Husky, particularly when he puts his snout inside the bell of your instrument.
For dogs the “owning of two boys” career comes with the “equity loving of all their friends” contract, a job Mojo fulfilled diligently. All my boys’ friends loved our Mojo too. His calm and sweet disposition won over every last one of the cadre of kids who have roamed through my house over the years. He laid his head on their knees when they were feeling blue and leaned on them to make sure they knew he would always cherish their friendship while they played video games. He was the watchdog during sleepovers in the tent during the summer and a frequent cheerleader on the side of baseball and soccer fields. One of my favorite memories was on Mojo’s tenth birthday. My oldest son was a senior in high school and invited all his buddies over for a dog style birthday party. They barbecued on the patio with Mojo in supervisory mode and then hooked him up to his leash and walked him the 1/2 mile to the local Mud Bay dog store to purchase him cookies and treats. Never had a dog looked prouder than that night when he left the family compound walking with those twelve handsome young men. His head was high, his chest was puffed out and his feet were practically floating off the ground.
With my oldest away at college and my youngest busy with his senior year of high school, Mojo has been seen several times a day peering into the basement towards their rooms, too frail to make the trip down the stairs and puzzled as to where his boys could possibly be. He would sigh and come in and put his head on my lap for a scratch and we would both acknowledge that the house was too quiet.
His absence will be keenly felt for a long time in our home. Who will I feed the raw broccoli scraps to? Who will help open every single birthday and Christmas present with their nose? Who will help my Usually Lovely Husband barbecue and sample tidbits to assure quality cooking? Who will sit and stare at my sleepy eyed sons while they eat breakfast to send them off on their day knowing they are loved? Who will I talk to all day? and who will I always count on to be eternally sweet to me regardless of whatever else is happening in the world?
Yes, my heart is shattered – but at the same time I owe a debt of gratitude to the universe for over fourteen years of memories which I will always cherish and I am glad he is now in a place where he can rest peacefully, take long walks and feel the grass tickling his tummy while he races full speed through the meadows toward a bowl filled with cheese.
Rest in Peace Mojo Moon Rising. We will always be watching for you chasing bunnies through the stars. Thanks for being you.