Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Moose (Kickin Kevin)

Kickin Kevin when he arrived from the track
We lost another one. It has taken me a month to be able to write this. Moose died the night of February 5th right before my birthday which is Feb 6th. I was in Florida with Miles visiting the tracks to pick up 11 retired race greyhounds. I hadn't even been gone from home 24 hours when I got a call from a stranger saying my dog was hit by a car.

So many things rush though your head in a few seconds. Can't be my dog! I have one on a leash standing beside me and the other is safely at home with my husband in South Carolina. Can't possibly be MY dog. I asked him what color the dog was and he said "white and brown". Moose is white and red. Everything started swirling around then. I remember asking him if he was alive and he said "No lady, I am afraid he isn't". Then I asked him what street he was on - it WAS my street! I had to accept it at that point that it was my Moose.

To make it more confusing, suddenly I heard my husband's voice on the phone telling me it was Moose. He had pulled up and taken the guy's phone. It is all a blur but later that night he called back to  explain that the realtor showed the house and left the gate open earlier in the day. He had put Moose out for his final potty break and he didn't come back in. He went out to see where he was and saw the open gate about the time he heard the horn honk on the street. I found out later that Moose was killed instantly.

I have actually had nightmares about this happening several of them. I check and recheck the gates and doors because we do live on a busy road. Moose had wanted to come on this trip so badly. I almost brought him but wouldn't have had room to bring back as many fosters since he is was so big. I decided to leave him home this time. I was staying with people and didn't want to crash at their homes with two large dogs. I so wish I could go back and do it over. I had no idea when I told him goodbye that day that that was the last time I would ever see him.

It was all so strange, earlier that day I had been to the farm that Moose was raised on and met his racing owners for the first time. I had promised to bring him back for a visit. I had been to the training track where he had actually learned to race and let Miles run a lap behind the lure there. Just didn't seem possible that the dog that I had been talking about all day could be dead. And so closely behind Pinky.
Moose on an earlier trip happy to see his race trainer again after retiring

I suddenly had only ONE dog. Just Miles Per Hour! I don't remember ever having just one pet before. We always had cats and dogs, sometimes horses, cows, chickens, ferrets and even a pet raccoon. Never just one animal.

I thought about leaving Florida and driving home, but there was nothing I could really do. Roy brought Moose's body back home for the night and wrapped him in a blanket. Our vet had the place that does the cremations come pick him up in the morning from our house because Roy wasn't sure he could get a 100lb dog in his vehicle by himself. I had friends that said they would come help if that wasn't possible.

The next day is a bit blurry. I didn't have any waterproof mascara with me and couldn't keep makeup on. I couldn't go anywhere until I could quit crying because I looked like a raccoon. I was supposed to be at the Orlando track helping out in one of the racing kennels but didn't even make it there until after noon. I went out to get some coffee and ended up sitting in a parking lot nearby on the phone for hours. Friends called, people I didn't even know sent messages on Facebook. I had lots of emails too. Lots of birthday messages but most were about Moose because my friends understood there was no way I could have a "Happy Birthday". I hadn't even had Moose two years, but he had touched a lot of people though the meet and greets, Renaissance Festival, home visits for adopters and all the people that came here to adopt dogs and met him. He was such a big guy and so sweet that you just couldn't forget him once you had met him - a real gentle giant.

I was furious with the realtor. It is bad enough when you lose a dog to illness like Pinky. This was so much worse though because it was senseless and could have been prevented so easily. Moose was a healthy young dog one second and gone the next just because someone forgot or was too lazy to latch the gate. Someone that knew we had dogs and knew their names. The family looking at the house had met Moose that day. Their little daughter had opened his crate and went in to pet him. My husband had crated him like we always do while they were looking at the house just in case anyone left a door open. He had gone outside with them and made sure the gates were closed when they went through like he always does. The realtor had gone in and come outside again and must have gone back through the gate rather than around the house though because that gate was open again.

Moose and Miles at the Renaissance Festival

Moose and his favorite pirate Spy Glass
Moose was a special boy. Raced at 92lbs so was a big gentle giant. He was the perfect boy to raise a greyhound puppy and was so tolerant and sweet with Miles. Moose was actually a pretty good racer in spite of his size and didn't retire until he was nearly four and a half years old.
Moose racing
This giant dog that was so friendly and seemed so unafraid most of the time was more timid than he appeared on the surface. He was afraid of kids and wet himself the first few times he was around more than a few of them at a time. It took a couple of days of treats at Renaissance Festival before he was comfortable around little kids and decided that they came bearing gifts. After that he was great and had just passed his Therapy Dog test before he died. 

Moose was a calm guy that loved napping on the bed and had his own twin bed at the foot of our bed to sleep on at night. He would stretch out and take up the whole thing. Moose never really got used to the wood floors at our house and never liked walking through the kitchen unless treats were involved - then he would brave the floors. He loved his crate and loved to travel though. Most of all he loved to chase a lure. It could be a lure at the race track, on the lure pole in the yard or lure coursing. That was about the only time this quiet guy got excited enough to bark. His bark sounded much like Pinky's. A high pitched, ear splitting yip that didn't sound like it could possibly come out of a giant dog. He did have a deep scary bark that I heard only a few times when he thought something was in the yard that 
shouldn't be there or when Miles had annoyed him one time too many. When he would get excited enough to bark it would often be accompanied by a leap straight up in the air - often above my head. He wouldn't pull on the leash so much to get a lure but would leap up and down in place like a toy poodle bouncing at a door. 
The normally perfectly behaved Moose got a little excited while watching a lure coursing competition

Moose was a gentle giant that I could completely trust at meet and greets with kids and adults. He would stand and lean against them and soak up all the attention he could. When they walked away he would walk up to the next closest person and lean on them. He loved to curl up in bed with us and wanted his head and a paw to be on us so that he was as close as possible. Never ever any issue with space. A dog or human could lay on him and he would never even move. He loved to be close to other dogs and people. He was such a love. 

One of Mooses quirks was that if he ever got afraid he would run. If he slipped on the wood floors he would bolt. He wouldn't think and would run into glass doors or walls. Just would go into panic mode and I know that is what caused him to run into traffic. I am sure he went outside and initially was just sniffing around. Once he realized he was in an unfamiliar place and alone in the woods he panicked and ran. He was running when he got hit according to the guy that stopped to help. My sweet boy will sure be missed and I can only think that Pinky needed a buddy up there worse than I did down here. 

Miles and Moose Christmas of 2011

Moose wasn't big on swimming but he loved to lay on the top step of the pool even in cold weather


Hiking Hounds said...

Oh no, I'm so, so sorry. What a horrible thing to happen. I remember when Moose came to your family. What a sweet boy. Your tribute to him is really nice. I'm sure he knows how much you love him and will always be watching over. He and Pinky will run fast and free together. Hang in there.

Greyhounds Aren't Grey said...

We are SO sorry for your loss. I simply cannot imagine getting that call. Like you, I live in fear that one day the gate will be open. We send you all our hopes that you eventually heal.