Over the course of my three and a half decades on this planet, I have been master to many a canine. My memories are filled with tales of Buttercup, Spencer, Baby, and Toby, but today has given me cause to pause and reflect on quite possibly the best friend I have ever had, Fat Moe.
I have always owned beagles and if you don’t mind them chewing up every earthly possession you own when puppies, they are quite possibly the most friendly and obedient breed of pooch around.
Years back I engaged the Arizona Beagle Rescue about adopting a dog. They sent a couple of volunteers out to Ragle Manor to ensure I wasn’t operating a meth lab and I was adoption material. During the course of that meeting, a Birkenstock-wearing poof went all rubbery on me, holding back tears, with tales of how the older beagles—abandoned by their owners—were all too often overlooked. This fellow’s sad story made an impression on me. Rather than adopt a young hound, I opted to take in an older one.
This is how I came across Fat Moe. Moe was a monster beagle with a head as big as a pumpkin and a bad attitude. He is previous owner, an elderly New Yorker retired in Sin City and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, would not leave for the assisted care facility his children had placed him until he knew Moe had a home. They drove all the way down from Las Vegas to ensure he had a good place to live out his days.
All the dogs I have ever had have always favored the women in life, most likely because they feed them, but not Moe. I was his God. He followed me everywhere; to the bathroom, to the pool, he waited at the door when I left and whimpered until I returned home. He was my dog. When my alarm would sound in the morning, he would open the level handled door with his paw and nudge his cold nose up against my torso until I got out of bed.
One night while watching Cinderella Man, during the scene where the impoverished family of James Braddock sang happy birthday, Moe began to howl. It turned out that one of Moe’s talents was singing Happy Birthday. This skill got him on Fox 10 as he sang for Jordin Sparks’s birthday at Arizona Mills Mall when she was on American Idol and was on Channel 3 singing for the grand opening of a pet spa in Gilbert. He was a rock star.
Moe was about as ill-tempter as his owner; quick to growl and snap at passersby. I used to dress him up in a blue service dog vest and take him with me to the book store and restaurants. I would feed him off my plate and speak with him like he was a human. I like to think he understood me.
A year before he shuffled off this earthly plane, I dropped $8k to get his pancreas taken out. He bought him another 14 months, I am the better for it. I walked him down Central Ave. in the Fiesta Bowl parade, where he dropped the greasiest, greenest turd you ever seen right in front of a gaggle of anchor babies. “Aye, caca!!” they exclaimed. But old Moe couldn’t be bothered. He had a style all his own.
5 years ago today marks the day when he went up to that great backyard in the sky. Sensing his demise, I left work early and spent the last few minutes of his life with him. I held him in my lap and rubbed his ear between my fingers. I felt that last jolt of life flow through his veins and heard that final exhale. The years have made me a cynical bastard; I didn’t cry when my father passed or when Barry Soetoro got elected. I shed no tears when Rudy sacked the quarterback or when I was thrown into a holding cell. But when Fat Moe kicked the bucket, I balled like a school girl. I wrapped him in his favorite blanket and buried him under a bottle tree.
Moe chewed through my high school yearbooks, bit a girl scout selling cookies, and ate two ribeyes right off the grill (a feat I still marvel at). By all accounts he was a bad dog, but goddamn it he was my best friend.