Annie Musgrove, R.I.P.
This past Wednesday I lost who I have to consider my best friend these days, after being together over eleven years. I adopted Annie from the Asheville, NC Animal Shelter shortly after moving to Asheville from my home state of South Carolina. I even sold my Porsche and got an Explorer so I could haul her around in comfort vs. style, and Annie ended up outlasting not only that Ford Explorer, but the marriage that would come several years later. She’s been with me through thick and thin and was always loyal, which is more than I can say about certain other females that rambled through my life and made similar promises.
I almost didn’t adopt her. I was walking out of the pound when the girl that worked there urged me to play with the German Shepherd/retriever mix that had been dropped off a week earlier. I was looking for an older, larger dog, and a female. And she was a little smaller at 65 pounds than I was looking for. Older dogs are the last to go at shelters, which is a shame because they’re housebroken, appreciative, mellow, and you already know what their personality is like. When you adopt a puppy, you don’t really know how they’ll end up. But Annie was 5 years old when we met. She was very smart, which is a nice trait to have in a dog. Having a dumb dog isn’t fun, and there are some out there. I’ve had one before, and they can be frustrating. But Annie was as smart as a dog comes.
I decided that she would be a good companion and left the shelter with her on December 7, 2006. And she was by my side from that point on, through a lot of craziness. She got to see the beaches of South Carolina, the Blue Ridge mountains, swim in the Gulf of Mexico, travel through the Smoky Mountains, and live in three states. She helped me earn my MBA in Tuscaloosa, hiding out in our tiny little graduate student apartment. She accompanied me on hundreds of miles worth of walks all across the South, and we saw some beautiful sunsets and sights during many, many colorful seasons. Fall walks around the Grove Park Inn in Asheville were beautiful, and she loved to play and swim in Lake Martin with my cousins’ dogs in Eclectic, Alabama. She had a squirrel-chasing problem which she managed to give up, thankfully. I was always worried a car would be the reason that we’d have to say goodbye to her. In fact, it was old age, as she lived a long and happy life, which was as comfortable as I could make it for her. She deserved it. The period during which we were together was not missing hard times, for sure. And she was there for me each and every time I needed her. I’m not saying she knew how much support she provided, which of course has its limits when it’s being rationed by a 4 legged mute with a relatively low IQ and who is only able to see things in shades of grey.
But she did know she provided a service to our small pack of two. Other than clean-up duty, I mean. She lost her hearing around age 12, which I blame myself for. Long trips with my music turned up to 11 definitely wasn’t good for a dog’s sensitive hearing, which I always felt bad about. But the deafness did provide relief and peace from the horror or fireworks, thunder, and other unexplained far away demonic sounds that terrified her to the point of trembling in fear. I could usually get her to relax eventually, however. Often that kind of stress would release some of her coat and undercoat, which she shed twice a year, but for very extended periods. I have to think that over the years I brushed, vacuumed and swept away hundreds of pounds of blonde and black fur dropped by her. It never bothered me, but she was a prodigious shedder. And a beggar. She got the brains of a German Shepherd and the manipulative skills of a retriever and knew how to work a kitchen.
She was well into her 16th year of life when she finally had to say goodbye. I had tried to prepare myself for the event for years preceding it, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. It was impossibly hard to say goodbye to such a good friend who gave so much and asked for so little. She was everything anyone could ask for in a companion and offered whatever she could to me unconditionally and with a big bushy wag of her tail. She was an exceptional dog.