Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Ballad of Ash and Mojo

Ash was the puppy that no one wanted.

My brother Don called me at work one day in December of 2000 letting me know that he picked up the dog we had been wanting to get for the new house, but she was crying the entire way home in his car. Her brother was left behind at the Humane Society, and had excitedly jumped out of the cage when the worker had separated them. Don called me and asked if we wanted two dogs instead of one. I emphatically said heck yea and decided right there that his name would be Ash. At some point, Don decided the sister would be named Mojo and that is where this story begins.

It is crazy to think that two dogs would have such an impact on one's life, but those of you that have experienced it can totally see where I am coming from. To you others out there, I guess maybe a dog is just a dog; a pet that you have to deal with and could do without. For me, they were family. They were my kids. They were my best friends. They drove me crazy at times, but they were always there; unconditionally.

I got a call this morning from my brother Chuck who was watching Ash this week for me.

I had gone away for the weekend to see a soccer match in Columbus and there was no one to hang out with Ash at the house. Like so many times before, Chuck and Don took Ash in. Eight years ago when my house was almost destroyed by the storm of the century in Toledo, Ash and Mojo spent about six months with Chuck and Don in Vermilion. It was their second home. They ran with Clyde and Buzz. We lost Clyde. We lost Buzz. Dallas joined in, but then we lost Mojo in May of 2012. Dolores recently joined the crew as well.

Ash was hit by a car this morning; Chuck and Don were there as he passed away.

I drove home from work, unable to possibly think clearly or have any chance of keeping my emotions in check during the day at work. I could barely even let a manager know why I was leaving. All I could get out was my dog was hit by a car. It was unfathomable. Somehow I got home and I pulled in the driveway. No more will I see his head popping through the curtains, resting on the couch cushion waiting for one of us to come home. To greet him. To love him. No more.

I opened the door...empty. The reality of that emptiness will take a long time to get used to. When we lost Mojo, I was broken. Ash picked me up. I think he spent weeks looking for Mojo at night. I picked him up. We were there for each other; just like family or best of friends would do.

Today I am wrecked.

My brothers told me that he did not suffer. There was still some light in his eyes when they got to him, but he was gone soon enough. I am forever grateful he did not die alone. That is what happened to Mojo two years ago. If only I would have stopped in at the Vet's office that day after work. If I would have, I could have said goodbye. But that was denied me - she passed that following night; alone. Ash was not alone - I have that, even though I was not there myself.

I went to the store to get some things for dinner this afternoon. I returned home and once again I am confronted with the reality. Ash used to jump so that his head would pop up in the window of the door as he waited for me to let him out. He liked to join me by sniffing at the groceries purchased in the back of the car and then follow me back in the house. Tail wagging, always happy to see me. No more.

Don called and told me he took Ash's body to a vet in Huron to cremate his body. When asked what his name was for the nameplate, Don said the name was long. The attendant asked what it was, but he could probably handle it. Ashley James Williams Teleha was his name, my brother said. Well that is too long. Ash will do.

It is now late afternoon and I am still wrecked. I am conflicted with the great memories as well as the shocking reality that a piece of me is now gone. He and I comforted each other when Mojo left us. I have to make this next journey without him. He was my constant. He helped me through the bad and reminded me of how great the good can be.

Tracey will be home with the kids soon. As bad as it was losing Mojo, it will be a long night dealing with the loss of Ash.

Both dogs took in Tracey and the kids as their new family along with me eight years ago. Like any family, things become interconnected and ingrained. There is no separation. Irelynn still does not like us mentioning Mojo; she should only be referred to as 'M' to keep her from being sad. A long day will continue with a long night of crying and reflection.

When I mow the lawn or shovel the snow from the drive, he will no longer be there waiting for me and yearning that he could be out there with me.

When I wake up in the morning, he will no longer be seen curled up next to any of us in a deep and contented sleep.

When I go to the store, I no longer have to buy his favorite treats.

When I am watching television, I will no longer have him laying by my side.

When I am eating, I will no longer have him sitting close by, slightly shaking in anticipation of some scraps.

When I am on the couch sitting next to Tracey, I will no longer have to move to the side and let him sit in between us.

When I am laying in bed with Tracey, I will no longer have to wait for him jump in and lay between us...our eternal chaperon.

When I go outside briefly, he will no longer be waiting at the screen door, keeping an eye and me and eager for my return.

When I am folding laundry,  he will no longer decide the best place for him to lay is right on top of a stack.

I will no longer see him awaken from a nap and look around, seemingly content that I was still by his side, and then gently lay his head back down with a sigh.

Bye Ash...I will not be the same without you.