All Photos copyright Christine Elise McCarthy 2019
Once again, for the 4th time in ten years, my home is plunged into grief by the sudden loss of a family member. Last week, I lost one of the best friends I have ever had in my life – my sweetest, sweet boy, Levi Dexter Gordon. My Dexter. He came into my life a little under 13 years ago – to help me recover from the devastating loss of my pug, Dempsey. Dexter started & ended his life very frail. He was a very sick puppy but, together, we got him right & robust & as muscular as you would expect a Frenchie to be. He cuddled my then senior pit mix, the very cantankerous Girl Friday, from behind so she could not bite him & he was there to comfort me when we lost her. In his prime, he was an only dog, and he was a huge personality – uber-protective of me, playfully tearing the pants at the ankle of many of my guests, unapologetically trying to bite anyone who dared approach me if he was in my lap & terrorizing veterinarians. Together, we drove to Michigan in the winter of 2007/8. He was my companion & comfort during my brutal month there & then spent 3 cold, winter months in Boston with me. He crossed country with me in a car twice. When Sarah MacLaughlin ads guilted me into adopting another dog – I took in twin pugs, Ella & Grisbi. I was afraid he would be jealous & unaccepting but he adored them both immediately. He was there for me when 11-month-old Ella died of a bee sting. When I adopted TEENY Moxie – he was wise & gentle enough to let Grisbi cuddle her until she was resilient enough to handle his enormous energy & enthusiasm. He was there for me when Grisbi died suddenly at the age of three. He welcomed Memphis as family immediately and gave him long & loving ear & face baths. He was there for me when we lost Memphis, suddenly. He graciously welcomed competing Frenchie, Hayden, into our home & even seemed to grow younger in the presence of her youthful enthusiasm. As important as his generosity was to the dogs I adopted into the family without consulting him – the generosity of his soul in accepting & nurturing about 15 foster dogs I have taken in and adopted out over the years was of equal impact. I could never have been a part of Road Dogs & saving doggy lives – if Dexter had not been so totally on board.
Just over 5 years ago, Dexter was diagnosed with an untreatable pinched nerve in his back which left him increasingly lame and, eventually, incontinent. My home became a labyrinth of yoga mats & rugs for traction for him & my bed was a patchwork of waterproof blankets – so he could still sleep with us each night. He handled his failing health with dignity & courage & forgave me every time I got frustrated with what felt like a life of endlessly cleaning pee & poo. I am so incredibly ashamed of ever letting him experience my sometimes frustration with something so out of his control. I am sure he was far more frustrated than I. But – he was a king among dogs & I know he understood.
Dexter was the man in my life for the last 13 years. He was my friend, my confidant, and my protector. I feel anchorless in his absence. Truly. Despite his frailty, he was all heart & bravado until his last days.
Dexter – I love you even more than you loved me. I still see you everywhere and it will take a long time for me to forget the routines that were ours. I miss your love of fashion & your pride in wearing any outfit. I miss you barking in impatience if I left you downstairs & the steps were too much for you. I miss carrying you around and looking at your face as I did so – seeing the total trust there & the blind acceptance of whatever it was I was carrying you toward. I miss your wonky, wobbly run toward me whenever I knelt on the floor & called you to me. I miss the slow & deliberate placement of your stinky kisses on my face. I miss your snoring. I miss how it feels to see you looking back at me. I miss all that trust & faith & love – directed at me. I thought we had more time. I knew it would not be enough time – but I thought we had more – measured in years – if we were lucky.
That is not what happened. You decided it was time & all I can do is accept that. You went in your sleep, on a freshly cleaned bed in a new outfit from your grandmother, Gail. And you decided to go while I was not here. I am torn about that but this was your choice.
Know I loved you completely – from the moment I saw you. I went to the breeder (first & last breeder visit of my life) meaning to choose a cream boy Frenchie from a litter of 5 cream pups & one brindle. I went home with the brindle – the boy with the biggest ears I had ever seen & the giant tummy. I was nervous because I understood the responsibility you represented – but it is a responsibility I am forever grateful to have taken on.
I loved you then & I love you more now. You are one of the very best things that ever happened to me. I am honored to have been your friend. So are all the dogs here and elsewhere who had the great opportunity to know you. None of us here could possibly have loved you more than we do. You were our patriarch.
RIP, Dexter – my baby, my boy, my man. I will forever love you as much as you loved me – times infinity. xoxoxoxox