Munson was considered elderly when I met him. His owners, who obviously loved him despite any faults he may have had, described him as “anxious.” Now, to be fair, they did give me “that” look when they said it, so I should have known that was them saying the kindest thing they could about their beloved canine, but it took me a day or two to catch on.
Given how anxious Munson was, even at an advanced age, I can only imagine what he must have been like in his prime — although there were several walls that had clearly been dug at, repeatedly and with great zeal, so perhaps I can imagine it.
This was only a small part of his personality, though. Mostly, Munson was a love. He would always follow me from room to room, and if I stopped for a few seconds he would nudge his head under my hand for pats. If I sat down anywhere, he would put his head in my lap and not move until I scratched him all over.
I never did tell his owners this, but I let him sleep on the bed with me. Nighttime was tough for Munson, as he couldn’t see very well and I think the darker it got, the less he could see, so there was a lot of panting when evening came. Once he got up on the bed, though, he would go right to sleep. In fact, the only time I saw Munson sleep uninterrupted for such a long stretch was when I let him up on the bed with me.
Munson’s body may have been old, but he was still a puppy in his mind. We would frequently take walks, and while we were out in the field, he would demand with a loud bark that I play fetch with whatever stick he had found. Of course, because he was an old and blind guy, I could only throw the stick about two feet, otherwise it was too far away for him to see.
Munson would also get really excited when we were playing and try to grab for the stick with his mouth, and, inevitably, he would get my hand instead. I always felt bad when I reacted with a loud “ouch!” because I knew he didn’t mean it, and he always looked contrite as soon as he realized he’d gotten something other than a stick in his mouth.
The last two times I’d gone to visit with Munson, I could see that his age was taking its toll on him. He did not take walks as far with me, I couldn’t throw a ball for him because he could no longer see it, and the few walks I attempted with him, he became so winded I was worried I’d have to carry him back home.
Despite seeing all of the signs of aging taking their toll, I was still saddened to hear of his passing. I believe that his owners loved him every second of his life, and I’m sure that it must have been a heart-wrenching decision to say goodbye. The one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that Munson had the best possible life he could with his wonderful owners, and it was a privilege to know him for the brief time that I did.
(Sarah Caton owns All Paws Pet Sitting, which serves all of Lincoln County.)