This New Year did not start out as I had hoped or planned. On NYE Scott and I took Milo to the vet for an emergency visit because he had stopped eating. We found out that he had bone cancer. And then, 48 hours later, with his little body failing fast, we said goodbye to him. It happened incredibly fast. And for him I am happy that it did, but it is completely heart wrenching. Milo, my amazing sweet old-man-dog, is gone and I am devastated.
We had Milo for twelve and a half years. In order to get him, I worked a second job during my first year teaching and then moved into a new apartment so I could afford him and he could be in my home. The only year as an adult that I have spent since college without him was that one I spent working to save money to get him. Milo was only 10 weeks old when I got him and we did a whole lot of growing up together. Scott and I have never lived together without him. Milo was already mine when Scott and I moved in together and became ours.
As Scott and I have begun to grieve, we have shared a bunch of our favorite memories together and I want to make sure I always remember the little wonderful things that made Milo unique, that showed his personality, that showed how much he loved us and hopefully that let him know how much he was loved back. So, forgive this long post. But this is part of my healing process and I need to share what an amazing, loving, sweet, and perfect little dog Milo was.
In no particular order, here are some of the millions of things I already bitterly miss now that he is not here with me:
-Every morning he would sleep in until I turned on the coffee maker and put my English muffin in the toaster. Then the smell would pull him out of bed and he would come and sit with sleepy eyes waiting for me to hopefully drop something for him to snag. Then we’d go out for a quick morning walk, come in and eat a baby carrot, and he would locate his rhino wherever he had last left it and take it into his bed for a grooming session while I left for work and Scott slept.
-He was stubborn – as pugs (and his momma) are – and he set his own strange feeding schedule when he was only a year or so old. He ate at 9pm and 11pm his whole life and you could set your watch by him to know exactly when it was time for food. Two meals at night and nothing throughout the day; he was a night owl in that sense.
-He was not a dog’s dog, but oh my word did he LOVE people. He wanted to greet every human who passed by and loved getting pet by anyone and everyone. But take him to a dog park and he would spend the entire time sniffing the perimeter and peeing on every tree. He never played with other dogs or even seemed to care that they were there. But their owners, he loved saying hi to them.
-Even when he wasn’t feeling well, if you mentioned going outside or asked him if he wanted a treat, the tail curled and wiggled just a little bit and the ears would perk right up.
-He hardly ever barked or whined, unless there was pizza for dinner. Then there was barking and whining until he got a slice of crust. Every time.
-He loved human food of course. He would wake up from a dead sleep at the sound of someone opening a plastic container of blueberries or raspberries. He also could smell an orange or a piece of cheese from another room of the house.
-He was an absolute sweetheart and if you asked him “Do you love me?” or “Can I have kisses?” he would lick your face and you knew he loved you.
-One Christmas when he was about three, still a puppy really, he jumped and climbed through multiple presents because he could smell treats that my Memmae had wrapped up for him. He was determined to get them and he found the exact package towards the back of the tree.
-For the first year or so when he was a puppy I would come straight home from work and we would go on a walk for at least 45 minutes every single day. We often did loops around the apartment complex or went to the park close by. He would carry sticks three times his size with him along the way just for fun until he couldn’t drag them along anymore.
-He used to get so excited and worked up when he was younger that he would have bursts of energy when we were playing and he would tear around the house and jump up on the couch and then back down again with his tail straight out behind because he was going so fast.
-One Thanksgiving he actually jumped up onto Memmae’s dishwasher as she was loading it so he could lick the dirty dishes. He always came over to lick the dishes as you loaded the dishwasher, or to try to anyway, but this time he actually got up there on all four legs so he could lick all of the plates.
-He stole rolls or cheese or fruit off of your plate if you didn’t watch it or make sure to move it out of his reach. He was a fast little guy that way.
-He slept for most every day, especially in the later years, and I would often wake him up from a nap on the couch as I came home from work. Without fail he would lift his head and give me a sleepy gaze and then his tail would curl right up to tell me he was happy I was home.
-He came sailing with us one time and we had a life jacket for him and everything. He was great on the boat for the weekend, but he did not like the water.
-He always wanted to be with you. He slept in whatever room you were in. He moved to a new room when you did. If you were on the couch and got up to go to the kitchen, he watched you go and if you didn’t come back soon, he’d follow you there. He loved people so much and he simply wanted to be with you. He slept on a chair in our office just the other day while I did yoga in there, just to be in the room with me. He even took to laying on the bath mat in the bathroom when I was showering. He would come in when I had already gotten in so I would open the curtain after my shower and find him curled up in a ball right on the mat.
-I knew I wanted a lap dog and that is exactly what Milo was. It was never enough to be on the couch with you, he had to be snuggled right up against you. After a while sitting side by side, he often scooted even closer, wedging himself further back between you and the couch, and resting his head on your leg as he slept.
-And other times if you laid on the couch, he would lay behind your legs and rest his head in the nook of your knees as he slept with you.
-He hated the rain, and cold, and snow, unless it was fresh snow and he could run through it. The rest of the time the salt hurt his paws and the cold got to him, even with a sweater or doggie coat on, and he would sit on his hind legs and shake his front feet and basically demand to be picked up.
-He shed like crazy all year round, but especially in the summer months. We made interior design choices and clothing choices based on his shedding. And we always kept a lint roller or three in the house.
-Milo visited every single one of my workplaces. He spent time at Weaver High football games and visited my classroom once. He was the dog star of one of my student’s performances for a coached project at Classical Magnet, and he appeared for Halloween at my office at Boston Debate League as an Men In Black agent with me.
-He was a creature of habit and he had us trained more than we ever trained him. He got Scott to give him a treat every time he was leaving the house. It became so expected that as Scott put his coat on to leave, Milo would get up and head into the kitchen to wait for his treat.
-For his first Christmas I bought him a stuffed rhino. It was as big as he was that first year and it instantly became Milo’s favorite toy. My Memmae calls it Milo’s “baby”. This rhino beat out all other toys and was a part of our daily lives with Milo. At least once a day he would hold it in his mouth and then lick it repeatedly to groom it. He would then take it to bed with him each night and if he forgot, you could ask him “Where’s your rhino?” and he would go find it wherever he had left it last. He also loved chasing after it and rescuing it from the vacuum and shaking it like he was killing it into submission and resting his head on it to sleep all throughout the day. Milo was never far from his rhino.
-Milo didn’t have a role in our actual wedding ceremony, but he was there for the wedding weekend. He looked damn good too in a little doggie tux. Scott and I both took photos with him while we were getting ready and he hung out late night with the wedding party the night before we got married.
-He loved to lick you when you were at your dirtiest – like when you had just gotten back from a run. I would be stretching out and there he would be licking my head, legs, and arms. It used to drive me nuts, but it was also adorable because his tail was wagging the entire time.
-His tail was the best. It was so perfectly curly and he was such a happy dog that it was always curled. And when he wagged it, it stayed curled and the curl would move back and forth. It melted my heart every time.
-If you asked him “Do you want to go?” or if you mentioned the outside to him, it didn’t matter how tired he was or what he had just been doing, everything stopped and he would cock his head and then jump up to go.
-He got so used to wearing his harness to go out, he was always a naked pup in the house, that he would step into it every time without you having to do it for him. And he loved it because it meant he was going outside.
-We took him for walks in parks, and up Avon Mountain in CT when he was younger, and at the arboretum in JP. He loved it. On our last walk with him at the arboretum he got tired and kept pretending to pee so he could buy some time. I picked him up and carried him the rest of the way and was perfectly happy. He was happy to be outside and happy to be held and not have to walk anymore. He was getting old.
-Coming home from vacation and picking him up was always a highlight. He would get so happy and give us kisses and not know who to see first.
-When I first got Milo, I found him online from a breeder in Arkansas and had him flown up to Hartford. Scott, Marissa, and I went to the airport to get him. He came out the side door in a tiny crate that he couldn’t even fit it anymore. He only weighed four pounds and he was SO EXCITED. Marissa and I sat in the back seat as Scott drove us home and Milo spent the entire ride running back and forth between us and looking out the windows on both sides. Didn’t sit still for a single moment.
-He was such a good sweet dog that all of our friends and family loved him. And we were lucky to have many of them be a big part of his life, watching him for us when we were away so he didn’t have to be put in a kennel. He was one deeply loved dog.
-He was always in the kitchen when people were cooking, hoping for a dropped piece of food. He was often in the way or under foot, but he was the cutest beggar you’ve ever seen.
-He hated when our cats played too much or made too much noise. He would jump up and bark at them to behave if they startled him or started to get too crazy. It was one of the only times he would bark. Of course, they were really in charge, but he thought he was most of the time.
-Our cat Cena would often feel frisky at night and would rub up against Milo to say hi or try to play with Milo by laying on his back and pushing Milo with his paws. It never worked, but he tried often and it drove Milo nuts.
-Milo slept in his own bed right next to ours. He had blankets in bed too and on some cold nights I would wake up and get up and tuck him into the blankets, and on other nights he would do it himself. One morning I woke up to find a lump of blankets because he had completely covered himself throughout the night.
-He loved all things soft and he would push pillows around on the couch to make himself either a throne or a fort. He loved covering his head to sleep during the day (too bright out for his nap apparently) so he often would have to extricate himself from the pillows once you came home and woke him up.
-He smelled really good. I loved to snuggle him close and drink in his doggie smell. It wasn’t a bad smell at all, just a subtle, sweet, earthy smell that was totally his own.
-He was often happiest when he was “having a chew”. We bought dozens of rawhides over the years. He hardly ever actually finished one. He would chew for a while and then never go back to it. Instead he would stand in the hallway looking at you until you went to the closet and got him a new one. But then he would take it from you and trot back into the living room and commence chewing.
-He would also get up each night while we were watching tv, hop down from the couch, and stroll into the kitchen for a long drink of water, which you could hear him slurping up. Then he’d stroll right back to you and snuggle in again.
-He never forgot a spot that he had some good food. The first time he visited the BDL offices he sniffed out half a sausage and egg breakfast sandwich in one of the wastebaskets. From then on every time Milo visited, all of the wastebaskets had to be moved out of reach because the first thing he did every time was check them all for food.
-Whenever Milo was away for a longer stint, whether staying with someone because we were on vacation, or even just a car ride to the park and back, he would always do the same two things immediately when he got into the house. First, he would go into the office and see if the gate was down so he could eat the cat food (it never ever was). And second, he would go and check his own bowl in case food had magically appeared there while he was away (also never ever did). Even though he never had success, he never stopped doing this, even in his last day home after his overnight with the vet.
I love him and miss him so much. He really was more than I could ever have hoped for in a dog.