The Big Mook. An Ode To Dog.

Posted by admin on August 8, 2011 in Family |

I have had two dogs in my lifetime. Both really were man’s best friend.

Well, Barney was actually a boy’s best friend. I got him when I was 12. Our family dog had died recently and my aunt wanted to get me a new dog, one that I could call my own. She saw him outside a grocery store with his litter mates. He cost 10¢. She gave them 50¢ because she felt sorry for them.

Barney was a faithful companion growing up. And I shall have to write about him in more detail down the road.

For today’s tome is about Jasper. Jasper “The Big Mook” to be exact. Jasper came into my life on my ex-whatever’s birthday. He was something of a gift to her. We had actually traveled to the pet store to look at the scotties. They were my favorite. But they weren’t in a mood to see anyone that day, having just had a bath. But the beagle in the bottom cage was sure happy to see us.

Jasper doing what he did best.

In fact, he was not to be ignored. He was light tan and white, what is known as a lemon beagle. He was $300 back in 1993. We didn’t have two nickels to rub together at the time. But he just had to come home with us that very day so rent would have to wait.

We originally named him Gumbo, but that name just didn’t stick. He would never come when called. Then one day, we tried Jasper. He trotted right over. It was like he had just been waiting for us to figure out what his name really was. “Dumb humans,” he was probably saying.

Jasper was a character from the get-go. There’s just something about a beagle. They are so happy go lucky and his baying would always bring a smile to our face. I’ve never liked dogs that barked a lot – but a beagle’s baying I could listen to forever.

Jasper fit in with our family perfectly. He had a thing for stuffed animals, which he would dissect with great precision and zeal, taking an hour or more to remove the eyes, then the nose, then work his way into the stuffing. Before long, the entire floor was covered with stuffing and he was shaking the life out of the now limp and very empty carcass.

We knew he liked toys from the start. At the pet store, as I was still campaigning for the scottie, Jasper walked methodically around the store, picking out a pig ear here, a rubber toy there, setting them down in the aisle as he went. I guess he just assumed we would be taking these with us, too. We did.

Jasper worshiped one thing – the sun. He would lay out all day in the sun, to the point where he would get a sunburn on his belly. I think he’s the only dog on earth that had to have sunblock applied to his stomach. In the summer, he would get a far better tan than I.

The Mook goes in for the kill!

In the winter, he longed for snow. He didn’t really like going out to do his duty in it. It would actually take a lot of coaxing. But once the snowballs started flying, it was hard to get him to go back inside. You could toss them in the air all day long and he would continue to leap at them, the snowballs exploding all over him, covering him from head to toe. He loved those things.

When things went south (literally) in my marriage, Jasper was at risk of being given away. I told my ex that I would take him. I still had a van to pick up and a few odds and ends I had left behind when I went off to Florida unexpectedly (another long story). So Jasper would join me on the drive back to Florida.

I picked him up in Port Orchard and needed to overnight in Spokane to attend my daughter’s graduation from college. I snuck The Big Mook into my room. I had forgotten to get dog food for him so we dined on Arby’s and McDonald’s for the next two days.

Then off we went on our cross country adventure. It was the Incredible Journey, only it was the dog and his master – you figure out who was who in this saga. Jasper never liked riding in cars. He loathed them. While other dogs would look happily out the window for hours on the road, Jasper would tightly hug the floor and just try to sleep it off.

Of course, I had never driven across country before, so there were a few stops along the way on your 84-hour jaunt. He didn’t enjoy the driving tour through Little Big Horn and Custer’s Last Stand much. He never got to see Mount Rushmore, as I drove in, parked, left him in the car, walked up to the monument, took pictures and returned, all in the space of about 30 minutes.

He didn’t look too happy with me when I started the van back up. I think he enjoyed the break from the road and would have liked me to spend more time looking at the heads of dead presidents.

Finally, we made it to Florida. He immediately fell in love, as if he had always been waiting for us to drive him here. As I said, sun worshipper. And what better place to be than a state where the sun shines some 250 days out of the year? I had to lay in a heavy supply of sunblock, that’s for sure.

Sadly, The Big Mook became old, just like me. He lost his hearing, though I didn’t realize it for some time. He rarely came when called anyway. And when he ever got loose, you’d swear he had been deaf his entire life. He was a Mook on a mission when on the run. He would only come back when it started to rain. There he’d be on the front porch, baying to come in out of the rain.

I don’t want to leave this with a death story, but it is so fitting in The Big Mook’s case. He had cancer and wasn’t long for this world. By now he was 13, old by beagle standards. So he went home to live out his last days.

We threw him the best going away party anyone could wish for. He always loved Christmas gifts. He actually understood what the wrapping meant and at various times, had tried to unwrap all of the gifts under the tree, thinking they were all his.

So we wrapped all his favorite treats and let him methodically open each one. Everyone brought him a gift and said goodbye.

On the morning he was to leave us, I cooked him a steak. The doctor had warned us that he might lose his appetite over the coming weeks. Not The Mook. When they weighed him for the last time, he had actually gained 10 pounds. A testament to Jasper’s unwavering love of human food and dog treats.

For Jasper’s blog on his life, visit BabyCentral.

Out on the Treasure Coast, still missing The Big Mook (who is still with me, just in powder form),

– Robb

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