Open Letter to My Dog, Moxie
Hey, bud. Let’s go take a walk.
I began sharing some of this with you on our walk last night and I wanted put these words in a letter to you, as I realized they are as much for me as they are for you … and maybe someone else might read this some day and you’ll inspire them to have “Moxie” just as you have inspired me.
They say that your life flashes in front of you as you take your final breaths on this planet. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about your final breaths Moxie. That fucking sucks, but we can’t stop it, we can only hope that those final breaths are peaceful and pain free. I also hope that if/when your life flashes, that you see all the great memories you created for our family. I know that when my time comes, you’ll certainly be a part of my “life flashes” — one of my happiest life memories is the day you picked me and came home with us.
It was 10 years ago, our first Christmas together as a family, Sadie was still in momma’s belly. I’m sure that many kids get puppies on Christmas, in fact, I bet “Golden Retriever” makes it’s way on to many of the lists to Santa. What a lot of people don’t realize is, for many, it will be one the best gifts they will ever receive. I vividly remember getting the gift of Moxie, like it was yesterday.
Lindsay and I married in August and we bought our first home with a big fenced-in backyard and we decided to get a family pet, a golden retriever. Lindsay found a listing of a golden retriever litter from a girl who bred them for a 4-H project, upon walking in their house we were greeted by your mother & father — it was the first time I had ever heard “golden talk” as one of his parents was very vocal. We were escorted into a sun porch at the back of the home where the puppies were being kept… I don’t remember the exact count, it must have been 7 or 8 little golden retriever puppies playing together, what I do remember is what happened next — one of my “life flashes.” I sat down on the floor, and while all the other puppies were to busy playing to even notice I was in the room — you made eye contact with me, came running over, sat on my lap, and picked me. I was in love, but I didn’t realize that I had found my best friend for the next decade. Moxie Gage Jourdan, my boy.
Ten years! That’s a helluva run bud. I realize we should be grateful, many big dogs don’t get that many years on Earth, and you had a few scares over the years that could have cut this time short… a handful of escapes and your solo adventures around the neighborhood, a few scary seizures and that time you chased me on a four-wheeler for to long and nearly had a heat stroke. We should be grateful for ten awesome years, but I selfishly want more. We’re very fortunate to have incredible pets, and I love them all; you, Ace, Winston, Dez & Ernie — but you’re different Mox. You’re MY DOG! I’m sure Haley would state the same too, and we both do have a special relationship with you — you’re our Big Chunky.
It didn’t take long for you to grow from that cute little puppy that won my heart into “Big Chunky,” a strikingly handsome Golden, a poster boy that could double for a Hollywood dog. Within the year, we’d add a second Golden, Ace, to our pack, a pack that you’ve led for the last 10 years.
Speaking of leading the pack, remember that time that you and “The Dog Whisperer,” taught me how to be the Alpha? We had three dogs, you, Ace and Sambo, the Great Dane, and there were some issues over dominance — you in particular wanted to paw everyone and we were having trouble getting you to listen once we added Sambo to the pack… so enter the local “Dog Whisperer,” he helped us break your habit and re-gain order in the pack — the key, I had to assert myself as the Alpha. How was I to do this … well, he advised me to hump you. We were paying this guy, so I did it, right there in the kitchen, in front of the girls and this “Dog Whisperer,” I air-humped you. It worked, you don’t paw anymore unless you really need something… speaking of “life flashes” though.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years that while mentally preparing before walking into a big pitch meeting that I’d remember that story about humping you and it’d ensure I go into the meeting as the Alpha. So thanks for that!
A lot of great memories, bud — you’ve been there for the good, the bad, the amazing, and the heartbreaking. This is going to sound weird, especially coming from someone who has incredible, loving parents, but you taught me about unconditional love, Moxie. Some of those bad times in the last 10 years were self-inflicted — I didn’t deserve the love that you always gave; you never judged, you were always there. I could be a complete asshole, stressed out and snapping at the world … you didn’t care, you’d look at me with those deep dark eyes as if to say “chill out — let’s go for a walk bud.”
Moxie, your name, defined by Webster’s, stands for courage and determination — you’ve taught me those traits as well. We got to witness unparalleled determination every time you spotted a rabbit, squirrel, or bird in the yard… multiple neighbors got to witness your determination as well throughout the years, including one or two neighbors that you introduced me to around 6AM while still in my boxers.
Courage, wow, well, this is hard to type. While in a hotel in Milwaukee, I received a call on the morning of September 12 from your vet with results from your biopsy that weren’t good; she informed me you had Oral Melonoma, potentially treatable, depending on the stage. I spoke to a specialist in Louisville and Lindsay took you back into the vet that day for chest x-rays — these too would deliver more bad news. You already knew this, as did Ace and Winston… I, however, was optimistic until I received that sec0nd call. The cancer had already spread to your lungs, and there was nothing we could do other than keep you comfortable and create great more memories.
We set out on #AdventuresWithMoxie — we took more walks, we went hiking, we went camping, you came on a lot of car rides, came on soccer road trips and you even came on a business road trip to Kansas City with me — many more great times we had, bud! When we received the diagnosis on September 12, we were hoping you could make it to your 10th birthday in November, although we thought that was a stretch.
Now, here we are, 100 days later — you’ve lost over 20 pounds, the tumor on the side of your mouth has grown to the size of a tennis ball, in the last couple of days you’ve decided you don’t want to eat much, and you even slid down the stairs yesterday morning as your strength has begun to quickly fade. Your size and strength may be fading, but your courage has never wavered. You popped right up after you slid down the stairs and began wagging your big fluffy tail as soon as you saw me.
When I had to leave on a business trip last week to Dallas — I selfishly asked you to hang in there for me, at least until I got home…I then asked you to get through Christmas. I’m sorry Moxie, you don’t have to do that for me, I want you to know that you can go whenever you’re ready. Until then, I’ll cherish every walk you want to take and every car ride you want to go on.
I’ve drafted this letter over a couple of days and you continue to amaze me. It’s now the morning of Christmas Eve — Lindsay came on our walk last night. What started out as a walk, you turned into a leash-less nighttime jog in the rain that I’ll never forget.
You’ve completed your purpose and will leave behind an incredible legacy. Your courage over the last 100 days has truly inspired me — reflecting on your life over the last 10 years has inspired me. Your loyalty makes me want to be a better friend. Your affection makes me want to be a better son. Your leadership and determination makes me want to be a better CEO & leader. Your unconditional love makes be want to be a better husband and father.
Your cancer, and your upcoming death is inspiring me to be better. Just as your death is inevitable, so is mine. Ten years we’ve had together, ten years we’ve been a family, and it seems like just yesterday it all started. The late Steve Jobs called “death the single greatest invention of life,” none of us can escape it — we can only realize that our time here is limited and to make the most of it. I wish I hadn’t lost sight of this at times throughout the last 10 years, at times where the psychological roller-coaster of being an entrepreneur took its toll on me and I forgot about and drifted away from the most important things in life. I forgot at times about purpose while drowning in day to day details. I forgot at times about love — thank you for not forgetting, Moxie. Thank you for reminding me about purpose & thank you for reminding me to love unconditionally.
Moxie, you have “it,” you have “moxie” and your charisma lights up a room. Even in these last few weeks as you become frail and have this massive growth on your face, you’re still the show stopper! Every single walk, the face of nearly every stranger lights up when they see you and someone almost always comments on how good looking you are — I’ve been more observant of these interactions with strangers recently — you truly light up their faces, Moxie; you make people smile! In your dying days you still have the courage to make a stranger’s day. I don’t know how to define “it,” but you have “it,” Mox, you’re special and you’ve touched the lives of many. You will be missed, but never forgotten. Thank you for the great memories, the love and the friendship.
I love you, Moxie!
PS — I’m going to show you some pictures now, maybe inspire some of your “life flashes” — Moxie, you’re the best.