I remember that first day,
even though it was many years ago.
I was only three years old,
but those three years had been amazing.
they would never compare to the next fourteen.
We had just moved into our new house.
I was sad, and a little scared.
A new place to call home…
a huge change for a three-year old.
Mom brought you home.
You greeted me with doggy kisses,
and a happy, wagging tail.
I was a little afraid,
for you were bigger than me then.
But I grew to love you,
after you showed me your friendliness.
I named you MoJoe,
after the villain on PowerPuff Girls,
but you were anything but a villain.
I laid beside you and my stuffed Pooh Bear,
letting you protect me as I slept.
You put up with so much;
tea parties, makeovers, tail-pulling…
but you never complained,
and you never growled at me,
or bit at me.
When my sister came,
I was still your number one human.
Yes, you allowed her to play with you,
but you always came right back to me.
The same happened with my brother.
When I lost a pet hamster or bird,
or fish or hermit crab,
you were there when I buried them,
your tail still in the understanding of loss.
On rainy days,
I could find you in the playhouse,
which I eventually named “MoJoe’s Place”
in your honor.
You were always my favorite dog to feed,
for you were MY dog,
no matter what the others thought.
At age thirteen,
I began to fear that every snow day
would be your last.
until last year.
Not even a year ago, actually.
It was this summer.
You were slower than usual.
One day, you left,
to hunt, we supposed.
But it wasn’t to hunt
that you disappeared.
It was to leave.
It was to die.
After two days,
I started to worry.
You didn’t come back.
You never did.
We never got to bury you.
I never got to tell you “goodbye”
I hugged you every morning,
fearing that I wouldn’t see you again.
I told you I loved you,
with the same fear.
I cried for so long
when you died.
You had been there
Been there to help
with my first lost tooth,
my first broken arm,
my first dance recital,
my first day of school,
my first theatre production,
my first day of high school,
my first driving test,
my first car,
my first heartbreak…
But you never got to see my last first day of school,
and you’ll never get to see
when I go off to college.
You’ll never see me in a cap and gown,
or in a wedding dress.
I knew it would happen,
I just didn’t want to believe it.
You were my dog,
and I was your human.
They say that dog is man’s best friend.
But to a little girl, you were so much more.
You were close to a brother;
a protective and understanding older brother.
Though you couldn't speak,
you communicated with me
in ways that words can't.
Your sloppy dog kisses,
your head in my lap,
the happy wagging of the tail
whenever you saw me...
mean more to me
than a million spoken "I love you"s.
I’ll never find another dog like you.
There are probably a hundred other
Australian shepherds out there,
but none can compare to my MoJoe.
MoJoe, my dog, my friend, my brother.