The Last Ride

by Steve on October 25, 2010

Many of you have enjoyed the dog blogging antics around here provided by Moose and his brothers.  Unfortunately we lost dear Moose this morning when his wandering came to an abrupt end on a busy county road.  Houlton is still missing but calls keep coming of possible sightings in the general area where Moose’s body was recovered.  It’s been a rough couple of days but having old Crash around to ease the pain has been a blessing.  He occasionally goes to the back fence and lets out a mournful howl calling to his lost brothers.  We laugh, we cry, we remember how we were blessed with the big brown bully and wish that it could have been just another chapter in a long happy life.  He left a hole far larger than any he ever dug.  I knew when I got a call from a neighbor I didn’t even know who was so choked up she could barely talk that the youngest of our pack was gone.  As I followed her back to where she spotted his body I prayed the entire two miles that it wasn’t my Moose but I knew as soon as we pulled up that I had failed my friend.  I shared many of his stories here and since I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye I’ll do it here.  I’m sure it will be every bit as hard to read as it is to write so I’ll give you the option to read on if you wish or you can spare the shared pain by not venturing below the fold.

Dearest Moose,

I took you for granted, knew you would be with me when Crash and Houlton passed on from old age. I should have hiked and called for you until my legs and lungs gave out but I didn’t – I knew you’d be home for dinner. It will always haunt me that I didn’t try harder. We used to train together but the trips to the pond became farther apart than they should have. You tried to tell me you wanted to go and I didn’t listen. We got in a few hunts even though you had to sit out a few so I could take the old guy “just once more.” You were truly a pleasure to work with and you never failed to amaze me with how fast you grasped concepts that take mortal retrievers weeks or months to catch. This was going to be your varsity year since Crash is simply too old for hunting. I should have told you that and picked up the training again. I think I let you get bored and yet you never complained. Your breeder knew what he was doing when he picked you out for me. He knew you’d be a big handful and you lived up to that plus some. You will always have a special place in my heart – I’ve loved all my Labs but you had an uncanny ability to read me. You were a clown, athlete, friend, and absolute joy to have around. I enjoyed nothing more than watching you do what generations of genetics programmed you to love more than food (well almost). I’ve watched many retrievers over the years but none that loved the game with as much untamed enthusiasm as you showed. You covered me in mud more times than I can count and I know it was intentional. A hundred pounds of wired energy can make quite a mess and I loved every minute of it. I wish I’d been a better shot but the looks you gave me when I missed were priceless.

Thanks for all the warm memories: your first summer when we escaped to the cabin in Maine and we stayed until the leaves started falling, the way you could sneak away from the foot of my chair without a sound on the hardwood floor, your deep bone-jarring woof when dinner was late, drinking with your entire head in the bucket, your contented groan from an ear rub. You’re all around me from the chair legs you cut your teeth on to the scratches on the Jeeps. You loved to ride and were a wonderful road companion from day one but this last one nearly killed me. I hoped that one day when you were old I’d have to lift you into the Jeep but never for the reason I did today. I kept looking for your head blocking the rear view mirror but you were gone.

We miss your big brown softness and all your sneaky habits. I regret many things but sharing your short life is not one of them. I’m better for having known you and that’s what counts. I’m so sorry that I didn’t do better by you and I have no right to ask this but I need one more favor: help guide your lost brother home to us. Run with both the boys in their dreams. Chase rabbits or whatever it is you guys do when you’re woofing and kicking all over the den. Be with them because they miss you as much or more than we do. I know that wasn’t you I lifted into the Jeep this morning for your last ride, it was just the handsome form your spirit used to warm our lives. Watch over all of us for just a while longer before you head off to the Grand Lodge where it’s always duck season, the birds are plentiful, the shots never miss, and you get to spend your evenings in front of the fire listening to old men tell their lies.

Thanks for sharing your life with us. I pray that your end was merciful and am eternally sorry I did not save you in time. Since you showed me which direction to search, I set off through the woods this afternoon hoping to find your brother. What I found was the most incredibly beautiful creek bottom and a trail that I’ll visit from time to time knowing you were there and loving every minute of it. Rest in peace my dear friend, you are sorely missed by all who ever knew you.

10/26 00:20
There is a happy ending to the tragedy: I had just shut down the computer and crawled into bed when I heard Crash scratching downstairs followed by a faint wimper from outside. I went down, turned on the light outside the garage door and there sat Houlton waiting to be let in! Thanks Moose, you work quickly indeed (with a little help from your new master). The four of us can now sleep soundly for the first time in several days but we will miss you always.


SoCal Pir8 October 26, 2010 at 5:56

Chills went thru my body when I saw “a happy ending…” What relief and joy I know you felt. A cherished family member has returned home. I know he was as happy to see you as you were to see him.

Marilyn Carbonie October 26, 2010 at 8:21

Thanks for sharing Steve you did a beautiful job! While we are still heart broken over Moose we are thanking God for bringing Houlton home and for Crash’s safe return as well!

Paula Butler October 26, 2010 at 8:44

Beautifully written. I’m sitting here at my desk at work with a box of tissues. I’m so sorry to hear about this. Praying for you and Rene.

Renee Ambrose October 26, 2010 at 9:35

I know how your heart aches, as does mine, but sharing these thoughts with everyone certainly gave me peace. I am so proud of you and your words were perfectly spoken about our Moose.

Angela Holley October 26, 2010 at 9:55

Oh Stevo, I just had to reapply my eye makeup. I have been so sick over the entire chain of events, but I am just amazed that Crash and Houlton made it home. Sweet Moose will be missed and will always have a special place in our family. He was one of my “brothers” and always the first to greet Mary Addison at the back door. You and Mom have been in our prayers, we pray you find comfort and peace now and never take the other 2 boys for granted 🙂

Emily Dunlap October 26, 2010 at 13:04

I truly believe that you will see Moose again in heaven. He is, afterall, the angel who led his brother back home to you.

steeljawscribe October 26, 2010 at 18:41

Deepest & heartfelt sympathies on losing Moose. I’d come to love the dog blogging so very much – Moose especially as the personality seemed so in line with our late Lab. They steal our hearts when they are all feet and ears as pups and with a shove of a wet, cold nose let us know everything will be OK. And in the end, they make us better humans – witness your note to Moose. Thanks God he other two made it back OK. And I’m positive, you’ll be seeing Moose again in heaven….
w/r, SJS

Kat Mapes October 26, 2010 at 18:55

I just want to let you know that i am sitting at home sobbing. This is a beautiful piece. I love you and Aunt Renee so much.

God Bless Moose, wherever he is. (He’s probably somewhere near a giant food bowl.)

Lisa "the little yankee" October 26, 2010 at 21:57

Steve, do not take blame my friend. Moose knows you were looking for him. He loved and adored you and he still does. That is why he guided his brother home. A true sign of how much he loves you. He answered your prayer.

God Bless all of you. You are in my daily prayers.

lynn graham October 26, 2010 at 22:17

Wow……….I could not finish the blog from the tears pouring out……I too prayed and am so thankful Houlton came home. Love and prayers to you all.

michael ann satterfield October 27, 2010 at 6:30

That is beautifully written. I could feel your whole heart and soul through every word.

Sandy McGinnis October 27, 2010 at 7:50

I couldn’t get past Dearest Moose without puddling up and still trying to swallow the lump in my throat. Thank you for sharing. It’s very hard to read without thinking of my own loss of my BFF Ridge. My relief is that I was able to be with him when he passed of natural causes. Unfortunately, at times (like right now), it still fills like it was yesterday that he passed. I know how upset you must fee and struggling with the loss of Moose. My thoughts go out to your family and so happy that Houlton found his way home with the help of his new angle. May he rest in peace. Dang, the tears just started again.

caroline and Mark Clar October 27, 2010 at 8:39

Dear Steve and Renee,

We are so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts are with you all during this awful pain. So happy that Houston found his way home to his loving family!

Bill Gray October 27, 2010 at 8:40

Very touching and thoughtful. I’m truly sorry for the loss of such a dear friend & family member. The good news is you have the other two back home and safe…………..BG>

Kim October 27, 2010 at 17:39

Having never met you or your beautiful companion..I am so touched by how you poured your heart out. You and Moose will meet again one day for sure! Moose was a lucky guy to have had someone who loved him so much. My sister was the one that found Moose…as you can imagine, she was devastated. She sent me your website and I just couldnt resist (as an animal lover myself) I hope Houlton and Crash ease your pain.

Steve October 27, 2010 at 18:26

Thanks Kim. We’re eternally grateful that your sister had the compassion and courage to not only tell me but lead me to him. Never knowing what became of him would have been unbearable.

Cindy Shellum October 28, 2010 at 21:29

Steve and Renee, Thanks for sharing this happy/sad story. Glad we could play a part in getting Crash home and wish I could have known the magnificent Moose. Isn’t it wonderful that those we love live on even when they change into garb we can no longer see with these human eyes? May he roam in the sunny fields and romp the rolling streams of other realms remembering you and his “brothers” till you are together again.

Phillip Allen October 29, 2010 at 14:32

Damn, dude. Make an old man cry why dont you? Beautifully written and all so true. We will miss Moose very much! Just remember his brother Moab is here for you any time you need him.

Don McIntyre November 13, 2010 at 20:02

Steve / Renee –

I am truly sorry for your loss. Having to let our one week shy of 16yr lab Samantha go exactly one year ago, I could not bring myself to post something back a few weeks ago.

I think labs are the only breed that try and figure out what you want them to do. Now doing it may be or not in the equation. Still think of her just about every day. You will of Moose.

Wish we could have met the big guy.

Mac ‘n Gail

Pinch November 17, 2010 at 18:07


I left a message on Facebook but am just now getting to the blog.

Well said, my friend. Losing Lucky almost a year and a half ago – after 13 years of his being my best friend – still brings tears, but at least I was able to hold him in my lap as we drove to the vet.

I know time has passed and it does get easier with each day, but still…there is that hole in our heart that will never, ever be filled.

Moose is still there – just think of him and a smile will come.


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