This is Matty.
8.15.99 – 7.22.07
Matty was our first dog together. We found her just after we got back from our honeymoon. We had agreed not to get a dog until after we had returned. Neither of us wanted to get a puppy and then leave on a trip and put the puppy in a kennel.
We found her by chance. But it was meant to be. She was the last puppy in her litter. She was a pure bred Australian Shepherd from one of the best blood lines on the West Coast. But she had a little bit of a flaw in her gait, so she was a family dog…not a show dog. She had been promised to another family, but they unexpectedly were unable to take her and the breeder (who would end up being a dear friend forever) had plans to go on a trip. She couldn’t hold onto a puppy for too much longer.
She reluctantly had put an ad in the paper about Matty — at that time her name was Ellie — looking for someone to buy her. We saw the ad the first day it came out and called with the intention of driving out immediately to meet her. The breeder was nervous. She never, ever sold puppies to people she didn’t know. She’d never put an ad in the paper, but her cruise tickets were non-refundable. She told us on the phone to expect to be interviewed and the visit would take a couple of hours. It took three and half.
Matty was three months old and full of puppy energy. She was a blue merle with blotches of black and gray across her back and the right amount of white on her muzzle, chest, shoulders and legs. Her copper markings were…perfect. And vibrant. And framed her face in a golden mask.
But it was her eyes and smile that stole our hearts. My husband melted as soon as she ran to him and he picked her up. Her left eye was chocolate brown and sparkled in the sun. And her right eye was a cool clear blue with just the tiniest brown chip. Her grin…was ear to ear.
From the moment she met my husband, she was his dog. He’d had Aussies his whole life and after we got married we, of course, talked about getting a dog. I wanted a different breed, but he insisted that the first dog be an Aussie. He was sure after I had one, I’d never want another breed. And he was right.
Matty was our girl. She loved walks and playing in the park. She would run for a Frisbee or a ball until you thought she’d have a stroke. She was our silly clown, protector, companion…and our first. A year later we got another Aussie. And after that a third.
Matty was brilliant. Honestly. She learned to take Dad’s socks and throw them in the hamper. She’d pick up trash and drop it in the can. You could hand her a can or bottle and tell her that it was for recycle and she’d toss it in the blue bin. She’d carry groceries in from the car and put stuff on the counter or table. I could even hand her a tube of toothpaste and tell her it was for the boys’ bathroom…and she’d walk into their bathroom and put it on the counter.
She was a comedian, too. My husband would often ask me from another room to give Matty his wallet or cell phone to bring to him and she would. When she was feeling especially silly, she’d take his wallet and walk by him with it in her mouth and then walk over to the trash and drop it in. Then she’d turn and give him a big silly grin. This was especially funny when one day I brought home a bag of his favorite candy and I handed it to her. I said, “Take this to Daddy!” And she ran into the other room with it, circled around him so he could see what she had…and then she tossed that in the trash! She was the only dog I’d ever lived with that had a sense of humor.
Too young, Matty got sick. I can’t talk about it other than to say that the day she died was one of the most wrenching times of my life. My husband and I still grieve. Our kids still talk about her. Bruin, our little boy Aussie that we got when Matty was one, was devastated by her death. They had been side-by-side companions for six years and he lost a part of himself when she left.
I believe that there are certain animals that come in your life and they are there for you to learn from. Matty was that animal for me. She wasn’t my first dog. She wasn’t my last. But she was my most important.
She taught me that life is short so don’t hurry through it…enjoy it. She taught me that it is fun to bark when you go down a slide. She taught me that you can suffer incredible sorrow, but more joy is around the corner. And she has taught me that love between a dog and her person is life altering.
To My Dolphin…with Love.