I was searching old files and found this:
My best friend just passed away. He was the love of my life, my constant companion for the past 12+ years. I met him when he was only five weeks old and dubbed him His Majesty, Maji for short, because he was so regal in between bouts of vomiting on the three-hour ride home from the place where I bought him. Only after he was completely finished being sick, did he finally crawl over into the blanket on my lap and fall asleep. I fell in love with him in that moment and have been in love with him ever since.
It’s unbelievable how intertwined our lives were. Everything, and I mean everything I do now reminds me of him, because everything I did when he was here revolved around him. I got up, went through my day and went to sleep at night, keeping him, his schedules and his countless rituals in mind. We slept in the same bed, ate the same organic foods and liked to be active.
He knew me so well. For example, I never could figure out exactly how he knew when I was done preparing my dinner, but he always did and he always graciously retired to his room so that I could eat in peace. Like me, he was a complete food hound and it simply broke my heart to eat in front of him. I couldn’t do it. I had to eat alone in order to enjoy the food without guilt.
To that end, he gave me an hour to eat my dinner each night. Seriously, he could tell time without a clock, because at the end of that hour, he let me know in no uncertain terms the dinner hour for me was over and he was ready to re-join me. It was our habit to watch TV together until we both fell asleep. He loved dog movies. He actually just loved dogs and drove every dog at the dog park nuts trying to display his fondness for them.
Maji made me a better person because I couldn’t just do my own thing. He needed me. And he expected me to be there for him. And most of the time I was. (There was the time I went on vacation without him for 10 days. He didn’t speak to me for a week and wouldn’t even consider sleeping with me, but eventually he forgave me and we were besties again.)
But if all of this sounds like he was the one getting the good deal then I’m not explaining it right. Because I was his universe. I couldn’t do anything wrong, and even when I did mess up, he never held it against me (well except for that one time.) He was so completely forgiving and trusting. Where I went he went, no matter how small the space he could cram in beside me, all 80 pounds of him. And he did 🙂 He just wanted to breath the same air and be as close to me as he could get.
Maji was the smartest dog I have ever owned. He had an extraordinary vocabulary. As a certified therapy dog, he could always tell whose knee it was ok to put his chin on and who he should just sit beside. I swear he understood every single thing I said, he just didn’t always agree.
He has left a huge hole in my life now that he has passed.
My son said something very wise, “You will fill that hole with someone even more important, Maji was your gateway.” I think he was implying a person 🙂
Natalie, the barista at the Redtree Art Gallery (3210 Madison Rd.) which is my favorite place for coffee or tea, just bought me a piece of art from the current art show, which is a children’s exhibit, to try and cheer me up. It is a drawing of a dog with the following quote: “Until one has loved a dog, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France. Thank you Natalie.
I wrote this 5 years ago. Although it made me very sad to read it, I also found it very comforting, all the more so because of the relationship that I have with 4 year-old Moli, the little lady who took Maji’s place. It hasn’t been easy. He was a hard act to follow and she has an anxiety disorder and is allergic to people and grass. Go figure. But she is exquisitely beautiful and she adores me.
Maji and Moli were about as different as two dogs could be. Moli is a picky eater and Maji would eat anything. That is how he died, eating a piece of chewing gum off the sidewalk that had xylitol in it which is deadly for dogs. When it came to sharing the same bed, Maji would begin the night next me and then move to his own spot whereas Moli keeps getting closer and closer, refusing to stay on her blanket which is organic cotton and amazingly soft and comfy, often putting her butt in my face and usually pushing me towards the edge of the bed.
Maji loved to go for walks and run around in the yard and go to the dog park. Moli looks at me like I am nuts if I try to get her to walk more than a block and she stays between my legs the whole time we are at the dog park. She is definitely not a babe magnet when it comes to dog parks.
Maji was quiet, Moli not so much. I am not sure that Maji even knew how to bark, because he never did. I used to wonder if he would offer any protection whatsoever as a guard dog, although I chose to believe that he would lay down his life for me. Moli, on the other hand, never misses an opportunity to bark her fool head off at something, really anything. She barks at the squirrels, the cicadas, the birds and even the people she loves who come to visit. But it is clear that she is ferocious in her desire to protect me. She will only stop barking when she sees that the guest means me no harm. There is no chance of someone entering the home during the day or even at night. She’s on it.
As much as I value the protection, I really hate barking in general….it is such an awful noise! And I have always hated barky dogs. I am on a mission to teach her the command “No Bark!” We just started working on it so we’ll see. The jury is still out on this one.
Unlike Maji, who thought he was my grandson’s nanny, Moli is devoted to me and only me. Whenever my first grandchild, Hudson, spent the night, Maji would sleep in front of the crib guarding him all night leaving me to fend for myself. When the boys got older he would sleep with them whenever he could, especially Chase the younger one who adored Maji. He seemed to know that they were boys as he would play rough with them but would not even pull on the pull toys with me. Moli pulls on the toys even when I am not playing and growls at me when I try to replace the pillows she keeps taking off the furniture. She can be coerced into sleeping with my youngest grandson, Chase, but would rather sleep with me.
The really interesting thing is that although Moli is the exact opposite of Maji, she has developed many of the same behaviors that Maji had. What this says to me is that dogs learn from us and that in my case, I must surely be a creature of habit. Above I said “I got up, went through my day and went to sleep at night, keeping him, his schedules and his countless rituals in mind.” In retrospect, I believe that it was the other way around; him keeping my schedule in mind given that Moli does the same thing now.
During the day, when I see patients on the phone (due to COVID) she lays at my feet even though she has access to my personal assistant, whom she dearly loves. I do not know how she knows this, but she always knows when I am done for the day. After I end with my last patient, and while I am still sitting at the dining room table, which I do in between every patient, she comes over and gives me a big kiss and wags all over as if she were saying “Good job, now that you are done, pay attention to me and let’s eat.”
Also like Maji, she knows that when I begin making my dinner, there will be a break in our time together. So she goes upstairs to her room, across the hall from my bedroom and waits until I finish eating. (I fix a tray and bring it upstairs and eat in front of the TV. I know, pathetic but I do so enjoy it…) She does not appear to be able to tell time like Maji, so I can exploit this alone/down time if I choose to do so. I usually don’t really push it past an hour and a half as I feel too guilty. But they both engaged in this little ritual of letting me eat alone and then insisting on getting back together.
Moli is different from Maji in that he would gobble his food down while we were apart. Moli will not touch her food until she is sure that she has access to me again. I always take her dinner upstairs when I retire to my room with the hope that she will eat while I am eating, but she waits until the doors are open and she is certain that I will not shut her out again before she starts eating.
It is heart breaking to watch her go back and forth to check on me as I take my tray down and do my dishes, as if she were reassuring herself that it is safe to eat her dinner without fear of being locked in again. The only exception to this “rule” is if I put something really delicious in her bowl that she just cannot resist. But that is rare. Usually she just waits to eat her dinner to be sure that I am accessable. It implies that if she had to choose, me or the food, she would choose me.
Ok, ok I know, I am probably little more than her food source, but she sure makes it look like she would rather starve than be without me. Sigh. Is there a greater, more devoted love than that? I think not.
I count myself the luckiest person in the world. I shudder to think what will happen when I start seeing patients in person again and she is relegated back to her room. I will probably have to incorporate her into the therapy room as often as possible to keep her from becoming depressed. I don’t think I can go back to the coffee shop to do my writing as I have for 30 years. I will continue to do it here at the house as I have learned to do during COVID. I can give up the coffee shop for her, but not the dinner hour. That’s fair, right?
Does someone you love suffer from an eating disorder?
Dr. Renae Norton specializes in the treatment of eating disorders. Located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Call 513-205-6543 to schedule an appointment or fill out our online contact form for someone to call you to discuss your concerns. Tele-therapy sessions available. Individual and family sessions also available.
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