Eulogy for Maddie
Maddie Murdock, a brave little shih tzu named for another blind superhero, Matt Murdock, passed away at the Animal Clinic of Long Island City in the evening of April 5th, 2017. She had come into our lives on June 23rd, 2015, after we saw her face in a local online forum with the caption, “This little dog is going to be killed tomorrow if no one picks her up.”
She had been found wandering alone behind the Brooklyn Museum in the summer of 2015 without a collar, tags, or microchip. She was blind and deaf and couldn’t run if she tried. The only way she knew how to navigate the world was by walking in a circle, bumping into things, then readjusting her circle until she found a loop that didn’t have anything in its way. She would walk in that loop for hours, and was in that panicked state when some good samaritan found her and brought her to a shelter.
However she ended up at the Brooklyn Animal Care Center, we took her home one sunny weekend in June. Maddie warmed our home, across two apartments, for 22 months. When we picked her up, the shelter guessed that she was nine years old, making her either ten or eleven at the time of her passing.
When we took her home, she had just spent a week in a kill shelter. Anyone who has ever interacted with her knows that she was the gentlest, softest dog in any room, and her time surrounded with dozens of howling, barking dogs in an under-equipped shelter (who deserve your support because they do heartbreaking work) traumatized her. She had her own excrement caked into her hair and paws, crust around her eyes and nose, and no life left in her eyes. She gasped for air. She made no move to resist or respond to anyone who touched her.
I can’t communicate with dogs, but it was obvious that this one had given up on life.
Over the next few months, however, as she became accustomed to the smells of her new home and the blessing of regular, healthy meals, her spirits lifted. She began to explore in her circular style, lick our faces when she laid in bed with us, and sleep peacefully in our arms. She made friends in our dog park and filled children in our building with wonder. She beared with us through *many* costumes and holidays, and asked only for scratches, pets, and bacon treats in return.
All she needed was love and safety, and we provided that in every abundance that we could.
She had had health problems since the beginning, and they were what claimed her in the end. But between the day we brought her home and the day we said goodbye, we had 22 wonderful months full of smiles, lazy Sunday mornings, picnics, and the biggest, pinkest tongue I’ve ever seen. She was gentle, calm, and quiet, but even moreso, she brought gentleness, calmness, and quiet into our own lives.
She would fall asleep in our bag and we could take her anywhere, and we did. Instead of dying without a name or a family in Brooklyn, Maddie Murdock smelled Ohio’s sweeping cornfields, DC’s cherry blossoms, New Jersey’s lush suburban grasses, and Vermont’s chilly winter woodlands. She knew safety, love, and family in Kelly and myself, and she knew joy and friendship in the many petting hands of our own loved ones.
It’s with an unbearably heavy heart that I write this, but it’s also a heart filled with relief. I know now that Maddie will never want for a bed again, or worry where her next meal will come from. She’ll never have trouble breathing, or think she’s been abandoned, or have to fight a losing battle with her tumor again. All she has to do now is sleep, which was her favorite thing in the world to do.
When she was at her most relaxed and comfortable, she would stick her tongue out, and we always said that the further out her tongue was, the more comfortable she was. Well, when she passed away, her tongue was a full inch out of her mouth, she was in her grey bed, and she was curled up in a little ball.
I can’t imagine a better way for her to leave this world.
Maddie Murdock, it’s impossible to say how much you’ll be missed, but I have to try. You were a perfect dog. You were our perfect dog. Our apartment will be so much more empty without your little body in it.
We love you so much.