It was eighth grade picture day and the first day in a month I had forgotten to say goodbye to Patches. When I arrived home from school that afternoon, I knew exactly what happened as soon as I saw my mother’s face. Patches was a part of the family long before I was, and she was 19 [!] years old when we lost her. Calling it a ‘hard time’ would be a gigantic understatement. It was especially difficult for my mother because Patches was her dog and she spent the most time with her.
It took us a week or two, but somehow my brother and I managed to convince my mother that the best way to honor Patches was to adopt another dog and give it a good home. So we went to PetSmart and saw Liz — a skinny red dog with Dorito shaped ears, one brown eye and one blue eye [just like Patches]. She was adorable, but she was kind of jerk, growling in her crate [again, just like Patches] and nobody wanted to take her out to meet her. Wade and I convinced the sweet man from Big Canoe Animal Rescue to let her out with me while Wade dragged Mom out to meet her. Turns out Liz was a sweetheart and had a ton of energy. We donated $50 for her and took her home.
The first thing we did was rename her Jinx.
My father was out of town that weekend, but Mom filled him in on everything. “Did you adopt her?” We lied. And when Dad came home the next day, Jinx was there to greet him, right up in his face barking and smiling. I will never forget the expression on his face when he walked in and saw her and then realized the three of us had straight up lied to him. [Sorry not sorry, Pops].
It was clear that Jinxy had a personality of her own and more than enough energy for her and about three other dogs. She immediately became a giant part of our family, accompanying us anywhere she could in the car and trotting happily behind me on my walk to the bus stop. And it wasn’t just my family. Jinx became a part of every family that lived on our street. Children would come over to ask to take her for walks on a nearly daily basis. People would send Christmas presents to the family and Jinx was never left out. She belonged to us just as much as the other families on Ramsden Run.
We loved Jinx. In fact, we loved her more than some people seem to love their cousins. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check Big Canoe Animal Rescue’s website on a weekly basis to see if they happened to pick up a brother or sister of hers. I did find one other Finnish Spitz in need of rescue on Petfinder. His name was Murray, and he had a striking resemblance to Jinx. And [bonus] he was located in Forsyth!
A little geography lesson for y’all: Forsyth County is just a few minutes north of Fulton County, where we live. Forsyth, Georgia, however, is near Macon, a smallish journey away from us. My parents went on their thirty-somethingth anniversary to meet Murray and made a point that I needed to brush up my geography skills while they were driving [and driving and driving] to Forsyth.
Murray was living on a horse farm turned dog rescue in Monroe County. The woman who owned the rescue was so excited that someone was interested in him because nobody had requested to meet him in the four years he lived there. I am so thankful for that because it was clear that Murray was meant to be a Burgan. My parents are such softies, they couldn’t wait to meet Murray, and felt so much love for him already because he was unwanted [just like Patches and Jinx].
There was just one problem: he was borderline seriously fucking ugly and loaded with ticks. My parents almost didn’t take him home because his roommate was so much cuter and had the complimentary eyes to Jinx. The woman in charge of the rescue was still happy that one of her dogs was going to be adopted, but mentioned that Murray would be sad because she already told him he was getting a new home.
So, of course, my parents brought Murray home to spare him the disappointment. It was one of the greatest decisions they ever made [though I still take full credit for finding him]. Murr never had a home, so everything was new and scary to him. He panicked in the car because he had never been in one. He didn’t know how to go up or down stairs. He was terrified of cell phones, microwaves and anything else that made an electronic beep. He was also the sweetest, most well mannered dog we had ever met.
He immediately became the protector of the family, sleeping on the landing of the stairs so that he could keep watch over all four of us if we were upstairs or downstairs. When I worked on my homework, he’d come in and check to see that I was still in my room. He’d come up behind me, touch his nose to my leg, get some head scratches and then leave through the bathroom to check on my brother.
When my brother and I moved out, he and Jinx would both walk the same paths through our bedrooms and look for us. Coming home on the weekends to see them quickly became a regular thing, and their excitement to see us was [and still is] close to the best feeling in the world.
We said our final goodbyes to Jinx Monroe in April. She was having trouble getting around as she gradually lost control of her back legs and stopped eating and drinking. We had a lot of really wonderful, loving years with her, but even at 28 I was selfishly wishing for more time, more medicine, more whatever-it-took to keep her with us. She went peacefully at the vet with Mom, Dad and Wade while I sat in the car with Murray.
I knew the exact moment she transitioned because Murray sat up in the car and looked at the door to the vet. I cried and held him. He put his nose on mine and licked my face.
Several weeks after Jinx left, Mom adopted Fraggle [her real name is Lucy, but I’m working hard to change that] as a companion for Murr. They quickly became buddies, and the weight of the loss we felt after losing Jinx slowly began to lift.
Murray was diagnosed with a rapidly progressing cancerous tumor a couple of weeks after Mom brought Fraggle home. The vet said we only had a few days left with him. My parents put him on pain meds so that Wade and I could make it in enough time to say goodbye to him. The medication kept him pain free for three weeks. Fraggle, Autumn and Layla refused to leave his side during this time. Autumn even jumped out the window at the vet to be with him at one of his last check ups.
Twelve days ago, Murray lost his battle with cancer.
I know most non-dog owners think we’re nuts and don’t understand why or how someone’s life can be centered around dogs, but I feel sorry for those people. They will probably never experience the pure joy, unconditional love and years of incredible companionship that we experienced with Jinx Monroe and Murray Furkel.
“Dogs are not our whole life but they make our lives whole.” – Roger Caras