Musings of An Old Man

by Brian K. Moore



This is one of my favorite stories because it was one of Phyllis’ favorite stories. She liked to tell the story of how she got the dogs and when she told it I had the privilege of thinking “Brian, you did it right.”

Phyllis and I usually had pets, either cats or dogs or both. From time to time we would “run out of pets” when the last of our pets would die.

Although I loved and enjoyed the pets, I also enjoyed the times between the pets, because we would not have to be sure the gate was closed and the door was closed and the poop was scooped and on and on.

I was OK petless, at least for a while, but Phyllis couldn’t go too long without pets. About 6 months before we moved into the Brewster house, Phyllis was getting pretty vocal about wanting a pet so I said, “OK, let’s get a dog.” Phyllis was elated. She started looking at the classified adds to find who had puppies for sale. These for sale puppies were not expensive. It appears that the sellers were generally not in the puppy raising business to make money, but were in it because they liked dogs and puppies.

We went to look at some German shepherd puppies that Phyllis had located in the paper. They were a really good litter of puppies—a little over a month old, so we decided to take one of them. The selection process got to the point where I was favoring a little Blackish male, and Phyllis was favoring a little brownish female. All of a sudden, I heard myself saying, “Would you like to take both of them?” Her eyes got like full moons. She couldn’t believe it. She hugged me! I was her hero—her knight in shining armor. Phyllis would tell the story of how I asked, “Would you like to take both of them?” for the rest of her life.

We took them home and started considering possible names. After awhile I came up with Babe and Bear. Phyllis thought that this was a little too harsh. So, I suggested that we name them Sugarbabe and Honeybear, and call them Babe and Bear for short. This satisfied her need for sweet names. And so it was.

They were great dogs. We spent many evenings sitting on the back patio having a cocktail with the dogs. Phyllis really enjoyed this.

The dogs would stay right with us, and Phyllis enjoyed their company so much. I’m so glad I let her have this.

We knew when we got them that German shepherds, as they aged, were susceptible to hip problems, but that didn’t deter us. They lasted 12 years. By 11 years the hip problems were becoming apparent, and Phyllis and I were concerned that the time when we would have to put them down was drawing near.

One morning in early December 2007, almost exactly a year before Phyllis died, we noticed Babe really staggering as she tried to walk. Phyllis said, “We’re going to have to do it now. I don’t want to have to do it around Christmas time.” We couldn’t imagine that in one year she would be following them.

We made arrangements to have a Vet come to the house to administer the fatal shots, and I had a worker dig a grave for them.

On the morning of the dreaded day, I fed them as usual. Phyllis was slipping a little by then, so I was doing things like feeding the dogs for her. Babe ate pretty well. We had been having trouble getting her to eat. Bear always ate all he could get.

The Vet arrived with a helper and we got Babe and Bear to lie on one of the tarps that we had got to wrap them in for their burial. The Vet gave Babe her shot first, and as she was dying Bear sensed that something was wrong with her. He tried to get up to help her, and he made that howling noise that dogs make which we sometimes refer to as talking. They had been together since birth and apparently Bear could sense that something bad was happening to her.

We buried them by the front driveway, so that we would see the grave whenever we drove in or out. I made a very nice grave marker for them, with the inscription “Babe and Bear, The Perfect Pair,” with cutouts of two German shepherds’ heads on it. I made this marker for the dogs, but I made it mostly for Phyllis.

When we would drive by the marker Phyllis would comment, “That sure is a nice sign.” She enjoyed the marker.

Phyllis had decided that the dogs were her last pets. But 7 or 8 months later, Linda told us of a little Calico kitten that was up for adoption. She brought it to me to look at, and I said, “Let’s take it.” I carried it in one hand to Phyllis, and she immediately fell in love with it. This cat was one of her prime concerns during her remaining few months, as her mind slipped way. This cat, Angel, is now my buddy and pal, and stays right with me day a