I grew up with a rather aggressive case of ezcema when I was a child. It was bad enough that I was hospitalized twice and I spent most of my early school years being shuttled from school to a doctors office. It took a few years of treatment and bouncing around from doctor before one of the causes of my ezcema was figured out and for the next 7–8 years I learned to live with Soya Milk and Dairy free cheese. Knowing that allergies were directly related to how my skin reacted my parents became pretty cautious about what I was surrounded with and what I ate. I later found out this related to my parents unwillingness to get me and my sister any pets beyond goldfish for worries that I might be allergic to it. My Mom’s side of the family grew up surrounded with dogs so whenever I went to visit them I usually spent my time harassing or petting whichever kind of Terrier they had at the time.
As I grew older and I began to realize more and more that I was not having reactions to any animals I interacted with I began to pester my parents more and more about getting a dog. I love dogs. Being surrounded by them as a kid had made me love them even more. My parents weren’t sold on the idea and they knew how expensive getting a dog could be and how much of a risk it still could be. On some days my Mom would collect me from school and my degenerate 12 year old self would ask her every day about getting a dog. This became the routine for our car rides home where I would extoll the virtues of having a dog in the house and my Mom would do her best to hide the fact that she wanted one also. At the same time as I was setting out my pro-dog stall my Dad was being introduced to a then 7 months old terrier puppy that belonged to the co-owner of the company he worked at. The owner lived alone and didn’t want to leave the dog in his home alone during the day so he brought the dog with him into work. Obviously having a puppy in an office went over well and my Dad would often spend his lunch breaks with the puppy on his lap trying to lick his face. At some point or another my Dad mentioned to his boss about how incessent I had become about asking for a dog and his boss had become more and more guilty that he couldnt look after his new puppy so he proposed giving the dog to our family knowing that it would be with a home that could give it the attention it needed.
We were sitting around having Sunday lunch when my Dad mentioned to me that there would be something coming over to the house in a few minutes. I prodded him further and he relented telling me that we were getting a dog and that his boss would be around shortly to give his dog to us. 20 minutes later he arrived and opened the door so I could see the small grey haired puppy looking up at me from her cozy little seat in the footwell.
I didn’t give her the name Morag but I couldn’t come up with anything better to name her and I was worried that Morag was pretty well ingrained at this point. Morag wasn’t exactly the most well behaved dog. If you leaned down towards she would often try to leap up from a seated position to try and bite your nose. She would often whine if left alone or she didn’t get what she wanted. She had a real affinity for pooping everywhere at first before later relenting and deciding that she would instead vomit everywhere. She would often times drink a gallon of water in one go only to spew it back up minutes later. She never learned from the first time that it happened and continued to do it well into her old age.
At the same time he inhabited this manic energy that made her endlessly loveable. She loved running and never looked happier then when she was sprinting laps around our garden and crashing into various bushes. I naturally don’t think that much of myself so I always thought I didn’t give as much time to Morag as I should have. My Mom usually brought her for walks while I was in school while I was the one who fed, played with and tried to train. When she got neutered I spent the day home from school on a fold out mattress so that we could both lie down.
About 3 years after we got Morag my dad passed away after a 8 month battle with cancer. I was 15 at the time and watching my Dad slowly decay in front of me is one of the most harrowing moments of my life. Throughout it all Morag became an important part of me and my Mom’s lives as we went through the grieving process. As I got older and other things consumed more time in my life, I got to spend less and less time with Morag. I still loved her and spent time with her but she became a comforter for my Mom as the years went along. They both went on endless walks together and once me and my sister were out of the house more and more often they would spend evenings on the couch together in front of the fire with Morag keeping my Mom safe. Throughout my college life coming home to Morag was one of the nice things about any day. Creeping back into the house at some ungodly hour after a night out and being greeted by an assault of grey fur never got old. When I left home for the first time for a 2 month holiday in the U.S with my girlfriend, Morag was once again there to help my Mom confront life without her two children at home and once again happily spent evenings in front of the fire with her.
Morag at this point was getting on in years and when I returned home I discovered that she had been picking at a lump that had emerged in between her paws. I cleaned up the lump and admonished her for picking at it. Over the next few weeks she wouldn’t leave it alone and after a month or two we realized that it had grown bigger and bigger. We took Morag to the vets where they removed the lump to be examined. We didn’t have money to spend on tests to figure out what was wrong with Morag and at this point in her life we realized that there wasn’t that much that we could do. We spent the next few weeks trying to make Morag’s live as comfortable as possible as I got to watch something I love slowly detoriate infront of me. After a few more days we decided that it would be best to have her put down. It was warm and sunny and we were all in the back garden trying to relax as Morag lay on the grass. I held my hand on her chest and felt her lungs expanding under my hand as I watched the procedure being performed. It took a minute or two to take affect before my hand stopped rising and Morag stopped breathing. We each spent a few minutes together with Morag before she was taken away.
Morag had been a constant throughout most of my adult life. A constant stream of love and affection that was often times desperately needed. Last year was tough for everyone due to the pandemic and everything related to it but for me what I lost was that support structure. A constant source of stability that had been all that I knew for my adult life. Especially now when I spent more and more time apart from the ones I love it’s that support that I miss most.