I wrote a while back about the passing of our beloved dog, Murphy the Excitable Dachshund. I appreciate the kind words that you all sent regarding our sweet pup.
This column is not a rehash of that, as I think we can all use good news to start 2018.
Rather, this is about his little brother, Maddux the Stoic, and his life adjusting as an only dog.
Murphy was about 15 pounds, and Maddux is about 80. That said, Murphy was the clear alpha. He would command respect and Maddux would never demur. Murphy says it’s his time to eat? Maddux would back away. Murphy says he wants the blanket? Maddux would move.
Maddux is a big, tough looking dog, but in Murphy’s presence, he really didn’t do much to properly reflect his appearance. Murphy was the big brother, and Maddux accepted that role.
As Murphy declined, Maddux had a hard time adjusting with it. They slept in crates next to each other, and each morning, they would both run out into the backyard together. As Murphy slowed, it confused Maddux. I would get them up in the mornings and open both of their crates. Maddux would dart out and stand at the back door. I would open it, but he would not go out until Murphy came with him. Toward the end, I would have to go retrieve Murphy and help him out. And Maddux would stand at the back door until I had delivered his big (even though he’s little) brother.
So when Murphy passed, we wondered what would happen with Maddux. Would he experience doggie depression? Would he be confused by the changed dynamic? Would he need another companion to take Murphy’s place?
Short answer: He was confused for about three days, wondering where his buddy was, sniffing around and being all kinds of out of sorts. And then he realized this is his world now.
- Maddux, who has never been a table begger, has taken countless things off of our counter (including a large pizza), and does so with an absolutely unapologetic look after the fact. Murphy, before age betrayed him, was an adept climber and jumper and masterful food thief. I can only wonder how many times we found some dinner piece on the kitchen floor and assumed Murphy had done it, unknowing that Maddux was the actual culprit.
- Maddux has always liked his crate as his home base, and when Murphy was in his, Maddux wouldn’t leave his side. Bedtime used to be completely crate time. He would go there long before we were ready to go bed. Now? The world is his home base. Can’t find Maddux anywhere? Hmm. Let’s go exploring. Hey, look. He’s sleeping on my shoes in the closet. Or on the bath mat in the guest bathroom. Or on my laptop bag that’s in the den. He will sleep wherever he chooses.
- He has turned into the whiniest little baby about treats. I have always kept treats for our dogs, and a couple of times a day they get a little snack. When Murphy was around, Maddux would sit patiently while Murphy took the first treat. He would then calmly take his and be done. Now? When I walk in from work, Maddux begins an aggressive tap dance right by where the treats are on the counter, as if to say, “I DON’T HAVE TO WAIT FOR HIM ANYMORE SO WHERE ARE MY BEGGIN’ STRIPS!!!”
I guess I am glad that he is finding is own way post-Murphy. I was worried he would have issues without having his buddy around, but in the end it’s clear that he’s adjusting fine and it A-OK with being an only dog. We are all learning to adapt our world, and that’s OK. And the most important way we have to adapt is to make darn sure we don’t leave a pizza on the counter.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.