A c-note doesn’t take you very far these days. But seventeen years ago, that same $100 bought me and my family years of happiness in the form of an apricot poodle we named Mopsy because of her stringy, curly hair.
Based on the joy and companionship she brought us and, quite honestly, anyone she came in contact with, it may well be the best $100 we ever spent.
Last Friday, we had to say goodbye to Mopsy. She had a good life - a good, long life. But the quality of that life had diminished greatly over the past year. She was stiff from arthritis, couldn’t hear or see much, and was having trouble controlling her bladder. Her existence was mostly sleeping, although she preferred being nudged right against you even then.
Her appetite was nothing like it once was and she had sad moments of disorientation. She had lived 17 years and four months which, in dog years, translates to being 119 years old. It was time. It would have been crueler to let her live than to humanely decide to make the decision that many pet owners eventually face. It’s a tough one and anybody that’s done it knows how tough.
My father and my wife’s father had both taken pets to be put down only to return home with them – even though they had to make return visits later to face the inevitable. That didn’t exactly give me confidence in the decision we were facing and if we could go through with it.
When is the right time? That’s up to each individual pet owner but you’ll know. We knew.
We let her go with tears in our eyes but with peace in our hearts that we were doing the right thing for her.
On this Thanksgiving morning, I’m not here to depress you with Mopsy’s sad ending. Her life brought so much joy that just wouldn’t be right. My point is to be thankful that we had Mopsy for these 17 years and four months.
She certainly exceeded any reasonable expectation with a life that lasted way beyond the average. She was always such a kind dog although she barked at the paper carrier like he was her mortal enemy. All they had to do was call her bluff. There was no bite behind the bark. Not ever.
Anybody who came into our home was greeted like they were her long-lost friend. Such a joy was this Mopsy dog.
My mother was especially close to Mopsy. In many ways she was as much her dog as ours. Mopsy had plenty of affection to go around and she doled it out with every lick. My mother and Mopsy drew close for several reasons, including the connection that this little poodle had with my late father. He wasn’t much of a dog lover – except for Mopsy who he loved like his own.
He would come over to our house and take her home for visits. When he became ill, Mopsy provided him with therapy that no medicine could ever deliver. Mopsy was Dad’s buddy. Mom loved Mopsy for that reason but she loved her for other reasons, too. She would dog-sit for us anytime we were away from Ashland and sometimes, even after we’d returned, she’d ask to keep Mopsy just a little bit longer. We always said yes. Mopsy was such a comfort to her after my father’s death. Her grand-dog became so special. She provided her with special treats and special treatment as Mopsy made her smile during a dark time in her life and many days since then.
I’m so thankful that Mopsy could be such a blessing to my mother and father.
I’m thankful that Mopsy could be such a companion to my daughter and son. She was my daughter’s dog first, from the moment those two locked eyes. Yet she was also a dog that probably turned my son into a bit of a dog lover himself. That’s the effect that Mopsy had on people.
My wife and Mopsy had a special relationship, too. When Sally went away to college, much of Mopsy’s attention gravitated toward my wife. She was under her feet all the time and was never more safe or comfortable than when she was at my wife’s side. Each and every morning – very early in the morning – Mopsy would come in and plop down beside my wife while she had her alone time with God. She did it every day, right down to her last day on this earth.
I’ll never forget the night we purchased Mopsy. I was covering a Kentucky football game in Lexington (Bill Curry was the head coach, if that tells you anything about how long ago it was) when my wife called the press box with the news. We had talked a little about buying a house dog and my wife had found apricot poodles for sale in the newspaper’s classified ads. She went out with our kids and picked out little Mopsy.
It turned out to be like picking the winning lottery ticket.
Mopsy, only 6 weeks old, cried all night that first night in our home.
We were the ones crying on her last night.
On this Thanksgiving morning, though, we don’t mourn for Mopsy. We are thankful that, for whatever reason, God blessed us with a pet that daily – more than 6,000 days - showed us what it meant to love and be loved.
She was more than a pet, she was an example.
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2648.