Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I'm typically an early riser, the first one up in our house. As such, one of my normal duties is, or was, rather, to feed the dogs and let them out. I would usually find Monte, our Boston Terrier, scratching at his kennel, desperate to head upstairs and have his breakfast. More than anything I've ever known, Monte loved to eat.

What he didn't like was being outside, so he would handle his business and come running up the stairs, begging to be lat back inside so that he could lick his bowl in the off chance that he missed a morsel. If he ever did, I never saw it, but that didn't stop him from looking anyway.

Once he finally gave up his search for lost food, I would typically know where to find Monte next - curled up on our bed next to Abby, hiding under the covers. Monte loved Abby, and if it took me some time to warm up to Monte, there was only so long that I could resist something that loved her as much as I do.

Truth be told, Monte and I got off to a rough start. Frankly, I didn't want another dog. We already had Sam, our Scottish Terrier, a good dog, a refugee from the Humane Society who seemed to enjoy sharing our home, and we enjoyed sharing it with him. But long story short, Monte was all but forced on us from a lady who ran a Boston Terrier rescue group, with the lady saying that she had a good feeling about us and Monte. It took some time, but I do believe she was right.

On the first day, Monte and Sam seemed to get along fine, with some understandable distance. But it didn't take long for things to worsen, and soon Monte began to pick fights with Sam. Each time, Sam would get the better of him, yet Monte would continue to attack. Being terriers, and tough ones, they were tough to separate. On one horrific occasion, Sam ripped open Monte's face, and it  became clear that this arrangement could not continue. We called the Rescue Group and regrettably informed them that Monte could not live with us anymore. It broke our hearts, but it was for both dogs' safety.

Monte was to stay with us for a few more days until other arrangements could be made, and things went fine between the two of them over this time. During this time both Abby and I stumbled upon Monte's ad on Petfinder. I stared at his picture for some time before calling Abby, and we both agreed: Monte would stay. We'd make it work.

We didn't know Monte's story. All we know is that he was found as a stray in Colorado and that he hated big dogs. If he saw one, he would growl and attempt to escape his leash. It's possible he could have been used as a plaything for a fighting dog; we'll never know. He had also lived with another family for a brief time but was returned because his "allergies" flared up in Des Moines.   

The fights between Monte and Sam would still happen from time to time, some worse than others, but after a visit from a "dog whisperer," they were rare. There was always a tenseness in the house that never left until Sam passed, but we all learned to live with it. Sam preferred the outside and Monte would rule over the inside.

His name was Monte, but Abby and I had made a point of trying out ridiculous nicknames for him, as a joke on some of the silly names people would call their dogs. First, he was noo-noo, or just noo. Sometimes he was called nunino. Sunny Noo would appear at times, as he was fond of finding a warm place in the sun and plopping down in it, even if that meant he had to squeeze in on a stair to do so. Not happy with these as they weren't quite goofy enough, I started called him Doonie, then Doonie Boy. To be even more ridiculous I started calling him Doonie Pie Boy, though that one didn't quite stick for some reason (I can't imagine as to why - everything has their limit I suppose.). I have no idea what any of these mean, but Maddy, our five-year old daughter, picked up on it, and to this day she often calls him Doonie.

Monte was wild, didn't listen, climbed on the furniture when he was told not to, would eat out of the cat box, pull hard on walks, and jump on people (or worse - sorry Steve, Cory, Jason, and anyone else he may have humped). This didn't prevent him from being a good boy. He had an endless capacity for love, happy to give it out and receive it from anyone who was willing to overlook his many faults. I suppose that can be said for all of us, but with Monte, it was obvious.

I'll never forget the way his butt would shake, desperate for the tail he once possessed. As mentioned, he adored Abby. On occasion, Abby and I would play fight to see how Monte would react. It should come as no surprise on whose side he would take. He loved to cuddle with her and would let Abby hold him like a baby if that's what it took to be close to her.

My favorite Monte story would be the time when Abby had gone to Colorado to go skiing with her sister and nieces. She had been gone for a week or so and was coming home on a Sunday. I'll never be able to explain how he knew, but that entire day, Monte could be found constantly jumping on to the arm of the couch so that he could look out the front window. He would check it out every half hour or so until she was about two hours away - then, he wouldn't stay down. He waited on the arm of that couch until her car pulled in on the street in front of us. The celebration he held when he saw her face would have made Snoopy proud; it was something to see.

I mentioned before that Monte and I got off to a rough start. This rough start continued for some time. It seemed like whenever I'd get to liking him, he'd start a fight with Sam, and we'd be back to square one. But on another skiing trip for Abby, years before the one mentioned above, in the middle of February, after a few days without Abby I was feeling lonesome. It was cold outside, and dark, and boring, the way February's often are. With nothing better to do, I was down in the basement, killing time watching a movie, when for some reason I picked up Monte and gave him a hug. He responded by licking my face. Repeatedly. His breath reeked - he'd eat just about anything - but it made me smile, then laugh, and I didn't pull him away for some time. Suddenly, I wasn't so alone anymore.

Monte died today. He was only ten. We just lost Sam in August; he had made it to fourteen. With Sam, we knew the end was near - his health had been gradually deteriorating for some time. It was still awful, and hard, but we knew it was coming. Not so with Monte. He had been in great health on Monday, and just like that, now he's gone. It's not fair, and it's not right, but I guess death seldom is.

You really were a good boy.

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