Mosby came to me during one of the saddest times of my life.
The day before we met, I was forced to put down my dog, Pepper. She was a thirteen-year-old miniature schnauzer with a salt-and-pepper colored coat and the first dog I was able to call my own. Pepper had lived a long and happy life, but age and disease had ravaged her little body, and I loved her enough to let her go.
Losing a dog instantly leaves a void, one that feels impossible to fill. You cry and you laugh but mostly you just remember. I knew I wasn’t ready to open my heart up to another dog. Inexplicably, I set up an appointment with a local breeder, they had a white miniature schnauzer for sale. I convinced myself that I didn't want to buy a dog, I just wanted to look and smile. It's a well known fact you can't be sad when you have a happy, healthy pup crawling all over you—trying to lick your face?
Salt, as she would come to be known, was the runt of the litter. Only seven weeks old, she clearly wasn’t ready to go home with me, but the breeder, an astute businesswoman, assured me this adorable bundle of fur could be adopted. I quickly went from looking to shopping.
There was, however, another puppy available. Salt’s brother decided he belonged in my family, too. He was black and silver and relentless. The whole time I was at the kennel, he followed me around wagging his nubby tail and nipping at my shoelaces. When I sat on the floor to hold Salt, this determined little man nudged his way onto my lap and into my heart. His expressive face spoke volumes. He told me with a glance that if I gave him a chance he would become my best friend for life.
The breeder, sensing a sucker, started to make a pitch to sell both dogs. I had objections, to be sure, but she was prepared.
“I understand, but two dogs will be less trouble than one because they can entertain each other.”
"No, you don't understand, I'm really busy."
“And that’s why you want two. There’s no need to worry about socializing them because they are already part of the same family.”
"That may be true, but here's the thing—I'm super busy."
“I believe you, but remember, two aren’t twice the work. You’ll feed them at the same time, take them out at the same time, and walk them at the same time too.”
"Point well made, and I’d love to take them both, but two dogs equals two checks."
“How about I take $100 off each one—if you buy them both?”
“Sold!” I said, giving in to the savvy seller, the persistent puppy, and my heavy heart. And thus a world-class friendship began between man and beast.
Salt, of course, was named as an homage to Pepper but I hadn't expected to get a second dog, and as a result, had no name picked out for my tenacious new buddy. I thought maybe I could call him Bear, or Champ. I even contemplated naming him Doogie Schnauzer, but in the end I settled on Mosby from one of my favorite television shows. He seemed to like it, and Mosby just fit.
The following day when I took the new additions to the local vet, Salt weighed in at an astonishingly low pound and a half. She seemed so fragile that I treated her like glass.
Not Mosby though—he was a tank.
He was a little dog to be sure, but I didn’t dare tell him that. He was thick and regal and brave. He was in every sense of the word, a watchdog. He would sleep with one eye and one ear open. At the slightest sound, Mosby would break out into an ear splitting bark. He was, however, also the sweetest dog—the embodiment of "a bark worse than a bite."
Mosby just wanted to love and be loved, and I loved him with all my heart.
After they were house trained, Mosby and Salt started to sleep in the bed with me. Salt, still small and delicate, needed help, but Mosby was a jumper. He would turn in a circle to build up momentum just before pouncing on the bed. As I would lay there watching tv or looking at my phone, he would lay next to me and place one arm on my stomach. It was as if I were a bar and he was bellying up to me.
I’m sure you have heard of lap dogs—well, that was not Mosby’s style. When he was barely a year old, he happened upon a nest of ground bees. At first he showed no fear until one stung him right on the rear end. The first yelp was heartbreaking as was the next one, after he was stung again—also on the rear. Because of this trauma, Mosby was always “covering his ass.” When I would try to get him to curl up in my lap, he would instead sit on my belly, a position that protected his backside but was also uncomfortable for the both of us. After a second or two, he would jump down and fall fast asleep on my feet. On many a cold night, I had no need for slippers. I had Mosby.
There were few things in life that Mosby loved more than watching the world. I had an electronic fence installed so he could run free outside, but for the most part, he would just park himself at the end of the driveway and watch. He was endlessly fascinated by everything from passing cars to joggers to other dogs on a leash. He would bark as they approached, as they passed, and as they departed. I often wonder what people thought of the loud little dog at the edge of the road. I hoped they knew that Mosby just wanted to meet them. Everyone was his friend, even if they didn’t know it.
Mosby also loved Salt. I’m not sure if Salt returned the affection but, undeterred by her indifference, Mosby would follow Salt around, always wanting her in his sight. When she was at the vet, his world-watching seemed to change to a lookout. He was less concerned about the normal passersby as he had a duty to wait for Salt’s return. When she got home, he would bark incessantly as if asking about her appointment. Salt, oblivious to Mosby’s growling, would walk right by him and head for the food bowl. Mosby, ever the gentleman, would cede the bowl to Salt, eating only after she was finished.
It has been said many a time that dogs are man’s best friend. This was true for Mosby and me, proven through, of all things, a song. When I was a child, I had seen the movie Snoopy Come Home. One of the songs prominently featured was a catchy tune called “The Best of Buddies.” I remember, even as a young boy, hoping to have a friendship like that one day. In short order, Mosby became that much longed for buddy. Each night before I went to bed, I would sing the song to him. I know he was just a dog, but it always seemed like he looked forward to it as much as I did.
When Mosby was eight years old, I started to notice a change in his behavior. He was drinking an inordinate amount of water, getting up two and three times a night to drink while also constantly at the water bowl throughout the day. Concerned, I took him to the vet, although probably not as soon as I should have. I didn’t want to believe there was anything wrong with my friend.
When the vet called and told me Mosby had diabetes, I felt numb. There was a ringing in my ears and a pounding in my chest. I’m sure I carried on my half of the conversation with the vet, but I don’t recall much about it. All I remember was wanting to get off the phone as soon as possible to research “dogs with diabetes.” What I found was some good news and some bad. Diabetes is controllable in dogs as it is in humans, but a full 50% of dogs with diabetes die within six months of the diagnosis. As I read Mosby’s prognosis, I sat in my chair and quietly cried.
Mosby was my best buddy. I couldn’t lose him.
It didn’t take long to settle into our new routine. Every day at six in the morning and six in the afternoon, I fed Mosby and gave him a shot of insulin. In many ways, everything else stayed the same. Mosby still spent his days watching the world, and every night I would sing to him.
When you have a diabetic dog, it is critical for them to eat at the same time each day. They have to have food in their system before they can get their insulin. On that Sunday morning, Mosby ate his food but barely made it to the bottom of the steps before he vomited everything up.
In fear and remembering the warnings, I took Mosby to the vet where they monitored his blood sugar and gave him pills to avoid nausea. I brought him home, but at six o’clock, I could not get him to eat. Panicked, I called the vet who advised me to put honey on his gums and give him the shot anyway. I did so, and for a while, Mosby seemed better. That night he bellied up to me in bed, and I sang him his song, hopeful the next morning would be better.
Mosby’s vet didn’t even ask to see him. She insisted I take him to the veterinary hospital an hour away from my home. It was there I found Mosby had pancreatitis. Initially, I was relieved because I was led to believe it to be treatable, but I quickly found out that wasn’t the case for Mosby. For the next six days, Mosby stayed in the hospital, but each day he was a little worse. I would go every night to see him and would stay as long as I was allowed. Then, each night before I left, I would sing him our song.
On the evening of October 30th, the day after his ninth birthday, the vet advised me that Mosby wouldn’t make it through the night. I made a decision no best friend should have to make. I decided to stop his pain, but not before I sang to him one last time.
By the grace of God, I was able to sing the whole song before I broke down in tears. Then, the doctor came in, gave him the shot, and, in an instant, Mosby was gone.
Salt is still with me, giving me the sort of comfort only dogs can. In her own way I think she misses Mosby, too. But he wasn’t her best buddy—he was mine, and I’ll miss him until the day I die.