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Me and Mandy

Farewell, and I thank you, Mandy the Bear-Shaped Dog

Posted on 2012.11.18 at 12:28
In March of 2004, my wife and I moved into our current home in Pepperell, Massachusetts. As homeowners for the first time in our lives, rather than apartment dwellers, I was eager to get a dog. We spent some time discussing it, but by the summer, Cindy had agreed, and I began scanning various pet adoption and humane society web-sites looking for a rescue dog to adopt.

I was clear that I wanted an adult dog -- puppies are much more likely to find homes, so adopting an adult is much more likely to be literally saving a life -- and preferred a mixed breed. After a few weeks, on the web site of the New Hampshire SPCA, I saw this listing:

That amazing, regal, ursine face looked out of the web page, right into my soul, and I knew I had to go meet that dog, and that, unless there were real problems, she was going to be mine.

The following weekend, I took the two-hour drive, and discovered that, while Mandy (already her name: Changing the name of a dog who already has one seems to me to be disrespectful) had been there for weeks, nobody had even asked to meet her. The young ladies were very excited that I had.

She was shy, but very sweet-natured, and I ponied up some bucks and brought her home. Even on the drive back, it was clear we were bonding. When I'd stop to go to the restroom, according to my friend Toni, who waited in the minivan with her, Mandy would be focused entirely on me. She'd watch me walk, and stare at any door I disappeared through until I was back in sight.

She was an amazing, beautiful, sweet, affectionate, quiet, happy dog:

From then until now, she's been my best friend, my baby, my companion and my joy.

She had several years of terrible problems with allergies, but in the last couple of years, the right dietary balance was struck, and, having lost much of her hair and being miserable, she reclaimed her Bear-Shaped mojo in all its Bear-Shaped glory.

In recent months, she lost her hearing, which made me sad. I was concerned that she didn't realize she was deaf, and thought I was no longer talking to her. Her joints began to pain her more and more, and she ate less and less. I knew that the end was coming, and that every moment with her was fleeting and precious. About three weeks ago, when I wasn't feeling well, she came to visit me, and I lifted her up on the bed -- she could no longer make it on her own -- and we had a historically epic cuddle:

That memory will have to sustain me, because last night, a little after midnight, she suddenly began barking in alarm. I found her in pain, and looking up symptoms, discovered that she was almost certainly experiencing something called "Canine Bloat." In a young, healthy dog, this is fatal unless immediate veterinary care is received. But Mandy was neither young nor healthy, and, on a Saturday night, her veterinarian was unavailable. (There is, relatively local, a veterinary emergency room, but the cost of even a casual visit there is hundreds of dollars. Any care received brings us easily into thousands. I can say, and it's true, that Mandy was worth more to us than any amount of money, but that doesn't give us that money, and so she had to go without care.)

I stayed with her, and being petted seemed to comfort her, and eventually, she seemed to go to sleep, and so did I, setting an alarm to call my vet's office at seven AM, in hopes of catching someone in feeding the animals. At seven, she was still with us, but very weak, and I was unable to reach the vet. I brought Mandy back to the bedroom, laid her on the bed, and Cindy and I stroked and loved on her as she passed away.

We are, of course, heartbroken. She was my pal, my baby, my darling, my sweetest Bear, and my life will seem so empty without her.

Goodbye, Mandy, the Bear-Shaped Dog. Thank you for making the last 8 years of my life so much more wonderful. I don't know what I'll do without you.


elrhiarhodan at 2012-11-18 18:10 (UTC) (Link)
I grieve with you. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt tribute.
ljs at 2012-11-18 18:20 (UTC) (Link)
I am so, so sorry for your loss. My best to you and your wife, and may Mandy's memory be a warm and loving thing for you.
The Hysterical Hystorian
abigail89 at 2012-11-18 18:33 (UTC) (Link)
Oh Jonathan! I am so so sorry...God, this is such shocking news. I know how much y'all loved your Bear-dog.

My deepest condolences to you and Cindy. You gave Mandy a great, wonderful, sweet dog's life. Fred is sitting next to me on the sofa as I type this; I always cherish my cuddle times with him. We weep for you today.

oncelikeshari at 2012-11-18 18:50 (UTC) (Link)
Poor bear shaped dog.
~ Monique ~
monique_27 at 2012-11-18 20:41 (UTC) (Link)

It's always hard to lose a dog (who is certainly more than a pet, a friend, a companion, a loved one). I wish All the best to you and yours.
nakeefeet at 2012-11-18 21:40 (UTC) (Link)
So, so sorry for your loss.

*hugs to you and Cindy*
mrsquizzical at 2012-11-18 21:48 (UTC) (Link)
oh i'm so dreadfully sorry to hear of your loss. what a very special friendship. the photos of the cuddle are really beautiful.

Edited at 2012-11-18 09:48 pm (UTC)
natertatersmom at 2012-11-19 03:07 (UTC) (Link)
I've been thinking of you all day Jon...literally all day. I've been distracted from everything that's been going on because I can't get you and Mandy out of my head. I'm sitting here typing this now and just squalling, and I guess I just needed a good cry. Mandy in your life was one of the first things I knew about you when I met you online and your love of her and joy in her was infectious and I guess that's how I just knew you were a good guy.

I wish you were close enough to hug. I wish so many things. But the reality is that this just sucks and hurts and I didn't even know her. I'm so glad she had you. I'm so glad you had her. And I'm a big believer in an afterlife, maybe just because I need to believe that such a special animal couldn't just cease to exist. I have to believe she's just waiting and watching expectantly for you again somewhere.

All my love, friend.
harrysmom at 2012-11-19 03:27 (UTC) (Link)
Jon, she knew she was loved and she died, surrounded by the people who cared about her. It just hurts.
OMG it's full of STARS!
leelastarsky at 2012-11-19 03:58 (UTC) (Link)
Big, big hugs, my friend! Believe me when I say I totally understand your financial dilemma. It's not that we don't think they're WORTH it, it's that we can't physically PAY the amounts required. Thank goodness for the internet: that it gives us the ability to research to our best ability!
And know that you gave her more than money could ever buy. ♥ ♥ ♥
uk_sef at 2012-11-19 09:51 (UTC) (Link)
Poor dog - and friends of dog. :-(
rupert_talley at 2012-11-19 23:59 (UTC) (Link)
I am so sorry for your loss. She was gorgeous and seemed like the most huggable animal one can have.
heron_pose at 2012-11-20 02:08 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, pal, how awful! What a sweetie ... that cuddle was indeed epic.

My condolences to you and your wife. A bear-shaped hole is a tough one to fill, but she *loved* living with you, just keep remembering.

wordsweweave at 2012-11-20 05:07 (UTC) (Link)
I heart goes out to you. Mandy was beautiful and it was wonderful you found each other and had many memorable years together. Thank you for sharing.
sarahenany at 2012-11-20 07:43 (UTC) (Link)
Darling, let me repeat my condolences here. I dreamed of you and Mandy last night. There was a vet in the dream, and she was saying that with her age, surgery wouldn't be an option, and she couldn't be saved. In a strange way, it's a good thing that you never put her down, just stayed with her as she passed away naturally. You were with her to the very end of her life. Condolences, so many, darling. {{{MANDY}}}
pokeystar at 2012-11-21 00:51 (UTC) (Link)

So sorry for your loss.

She had a wonderful life with you.
xedra at 2012-11-22 02:16 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so so sorry Jonathan. Mandy was such a beauty through and through. :(
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