Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

McKinley May 18, 1997-December 14, 2010

 Steadfast companion,
Ambassador of Happiness,
this girl's best friend.

 Wish you all had known him, because everyone who did loved him. Living in the heart of downtown, Mac made friends with everyone who passed by (especially if they passed by with french fries from the Sparetime Tavern), so he had friends I've never even met. For awhile there was a man who would let himself in the gate and sit under one of the maples, scratching McKinley's ears. I've a feeling Mac gave as good as he got in that friendship. One Easter, McKinley introduced me to an angel of a child named Gabriella, who brought me an important message, in answer to a prayer. That's a story for another day, but it was sweet gentle McDog who invited her to my doorstep.

Neighbor kids not allowed to have dogs would throw his toys for him, though I can't say as Mac really ever got the point of fetch. He'd do it for awhile, though, if it made you happy to watch him run. Running he got the point of. Running is what sled dogs do best. The louder you yell, the faster a sled dog will run away from you...unless you yell "cookie!" This was one of the first things Mac taught me. Do not step out the back door in your underpants and a tank top to get his food dish, if you have the kind of door that can lock behind you when a happy dog jumps on it, was lesson number two.

In recent years, neighborhood children caught on that I'm a sucker for any kid selling stuff, or wanting an odd job for spending money.  McKinley, too old to be any trouble on a leash, got taken for a lot of walks last summer.  He really was getting old, because one day the girls had collected a whole menagerie of pets to take on an outing, which, along with three dogs, also included two wagons, one with  two rabbits, the other three guinea pigs and a white rat, which I didn't see until after I said, "Yes, he can go".  I spent an hour in absolute terror of having to replace someones beloved furballs.  Thankfully, being a malamute, Mac was so intent on leading the troupe, he never noticed who was following.  Whew!

Although he wasn't much of a house dog, McKinley preferred to be wherever I was, so he went on errands and to work with me, whenever possible.  He sat in the front passenger seat, with his front paws on the floor, and his chin on the windowsill, smiling as only malamutes can, at everyone we passed.  For this he earned the title of Ambassador of Happiness.  Judging by the smiles and waves, I'd say he cheered a lot of people,especially Harley riders, who I suspect are just reincarnated malamutes, anyway

One summer morning, after a particularly fierce storm, I found a tiny bird's nest in the yard, and on closer inspection, discovered it was lined in McKinley's hair.  You may think you have a certain function or purpose in this world, but this nest reminded me that we never really know all the lives we touch, nor how we touch them, so just be present, and be fully yourself.  In a cartoon version of this, I envision Snoopy's friend Woodstock and all his little bird friends wearing sweaters knit from malamute fur...do other people think of things like this?...the brain works in mysterious ways.

I never thought of McKinley as "my baby", as in a replacement for children, but my parents did start calling him their granddog.  I figure this means they forgave him for turning every garden hose into a soaker hose his first summer, when we house sat their place.  It was awfully funny watching a fourteen week old Mac bravely attack the giant green snake, then run frantically away with it in his mouth, trying to outrun the spitting end of it.  Sort of messed up the systematic moving of the sprinklers, but it saved me time on puppy baths.

Mac liked to take me to dog parks, of which Minneapolis has several really nice ones.  One of his favorites was Frog Pond (a.k.a. Elm Creek Park), where he spent hours amusing all onlookers with his total inability to catch frogs.  When he wasn't chasing frogs, he loved to chase other dogs who were chasing balls or Frisbees...again, not to fetch the toys, but just for the sheer delight of running with the pack.  A true example of the meaning of sport. 

Like all properly loved dogs, McKinley loved Christmas.  Opening packages was his favorite game ever, and he would ask to have his gifts re-wrapped until all the paper was shredded to confetti.  The dog who couldn't remember to stay off of the bed could remember from one year to the next that Christmas trees come with paper wrapped toys underneath, and he would race to check it out every morning, until the day when "Yes!" it was Christmas, and they were there. 

This photo was taken last Christmas.  While plow trucks cleared the roads, and people all over our area gave up hope of family making it home for Christmas dinner, McKinley took advantage of the snowbound day, and had an excellent nap.  He took life as it came.

Yesterday morning, under this beautiful sunrise, McKinley took his last breath, and left for the Grand Perhaps.  My friend Cat says she believes our pets await us in the afterlife.  I kind of hope they take a short rest, then come back to accompany another human on a leg of their journey.  He's too sweet a soul, too perfect a companion, too good a teacher, to wait all those years for me. 


Susan Turney said...

What a wonderful tribute. There will be such a void for awhile but when it gets too large,just read this post.

Barb Kobe said...

My father passed away last Spring at 93, sad indeed; and yet, this story of Mac's life and death touched my heart nearly as much if not more Although I had petted him once or twice I will miss him. I am blessed having read this, thank you.

Jan Bush-Wood said...

Oh how I wish I could have met McKinley, such a beautiful doggie.
Today is my first visit to your blog. It's wonderful. I love your murals, Oh My Gosh!
I am a friend of Maureen Carlson's
She is one of my most favorite people. I always leave her presence a better person. She has been so affirming, supportive, and loving to me. I find this rare.
She has mentioned you before, I'm so glad she made mention of you again, so I can see your Amazing Art. I have a blog, but I'm not very active in posting.
I am a nurse, work part time at the U of M-with drug and alcohol
problems, and most are depressed.
My therapy is making dolls.
Somewhere, I got the idea, that my blog, should just be about dolls and doll making. Since reading yours & Maureen's I feel inspired to drop that notion and post about this life we are living.