By October 28, 2006

Goodbye, O Monster

OthelloEleven years ago, my friend Alexa took in a shivering, starving puppy in the middle of a Texas thunderstorm. She named him Othello, and he grew to become one of the most gentle, loving dogs I have ever known. Othello followed Alexa throughout a marriage, moving from Texas to Virginia, a divorce, moving from Virginia to Oregon, back to Virginia, up to Maryland (and then another move within), and finally back to Texas. He’s seen Alexa through eight different jobs, and two domestic partners. He’s probably been through more states in this country than my neighbors. His feet smelled like popcorn, and his ears like grapes.

The first thing I noticed about him was his crazy eyebrows. I nicknamed him Samuel Clemens, and it stuck. He loved to run around the couch in my house in Oregon, we’d all throw our hands up and shrill, “VICTORY LAP!” and he’d tear off another one. He tolerated everyone: fellow rescuee Kodi the Great Pyranees, who peed on everything and tried to blame it on Othello; Fucker McCloud (my naming), the shitbag cocker spaniel we fostered; Higginsbottom, the rash-begotten French Bulldog; and even Porter and Rosie.

About three years ago he had a grapefruit-sized cancerous tumor taken out of his abdominal wall. It was an expensive and scary procedure, and thanks to the love and generosity of a good friend and Alexa’s partner of the time, O Monster pulled through. However, I think the combo of his bad start as a puppy and the cancer aged Othello rapidly. Alexa said that he’s been even more stiffly-jointed than normal, to the point of wincing and complaining when getting up or lying down. Things took a worse yesterday, and Othello had lost some of his muscle control and was disoriented and in pain. He was unable to walk reliably on his own, and had no power over his bowels. Alexa was afraid the cancer was back.

It might seem odd that I’m writing a eulogy for my ex’s dog. My close friends and I have one thing in common: we don’t fit in amongst people. We are an outfit of misfits. We count few friendships, and fewer still have survived the turbulent lives that we lead. Othello and I would lie on the floor and watch Dexter’s Lab while I rubbed his feet. He didn’t care that I’d just lost my job after buying a house I could barely afford, panicking on the inside. He’d give me that lazy half-wink, like there were better things to think about than foreclosure. He sat next to me for over a year, while I worked from home and scrambled to make ends meet. When I was sick, he would cuddle me in bed. When I was sad, he’d fly about with his victory laps. I’d smile at him, and he’d smile back, his mouth stretched back so far you could see every one of his gentle teeth. I loved him, and he was a good friend to me.

I’m going to miss you, O Monster. It’s not fair that we love our animal companions so much, yet have to see them suffer. You brought a lot of joy to a lot of people.

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11 Comments on "Goodbye, O Monster"

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  1. drfaulken says:

    I’ve posted a screenshot of Alexa’s site here:

    http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/973-2/eclare.jpg

    🙁

  2. Alexa says:

    A very fine post. Thank you for the kind words, memories, and support. He was truly a unique, talented, and bright dog. Long live victory laps, popcorn feet, grape-scented ears, and an unhealthy attraction to feet under blankets.

  3. drfaulken says:

    From Alexa:

    [Othello’s] cancerous operation was just over 3 years ago. They gave him a year to live beyond that. He out lived their expectancy and certainly did so with vigor. I just thought you should know.

    Time certainly flies. May you find a harem of blankets when you rest, Omonster.

  4. Alexa says:

    LOL–he was very nondiscriminatory about his encounters with blakents and towels. But, God love him, he really thought it was arousing to watch some cover themselves up under a blanket.

  5. Alexa says:

    …and don’t get me started about the time he met DocFaulken’s parents for the first time at Emigrant Lake.

  6. Sharon Ammon says:

    Good by good friend/ How wonderful if we all accepted our lives and made the most out them the way you did. I will miss you, laugh thinking of you, and remember those fabulous eyebrows and that endearing smile. You had the best owner the world could offer, and now you are out of pain and at peace.

    Miss you,
    Your old bed companion,

  7. Linda McKey says:

    Othello was a true companion, but, in all reality he was just a reflection of the love you gave him.
    Respectfully

  8. Ed says:

    Sorry to hear about Othello, Jeanette and I enjoyed his victory laps in Oregon. Good puppy.

  9. Bond says:

    From all the stories I’ve heard, it’s easy to say that he sounded VERY loved and happy. I can’t imagine a pupper getting more out of life 🙂

  10. katie says:

    What a faithful companion, we will all miss him. Nothing touches us like our beloved dogs.

  11. Lori says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a dog that was so loved. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Our animals give us so much joy, so much unconditional love, making us feel like our mere existence makes each day a special occasion for them. They become so much a part of the fabric of our lives that, when they leave us, we cannot believe the gaping void that is created. As painful as this loss is, I hope you find comfort in all your fond memories of Othello, knowing he is in a better place, and knowing that your friends — those who knew him as well as those who did not have the pleasure — understand how special he was to you, and are grieving with you.