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A Call to Play.

February 1, 2011

Elsie Murchie, 7/2010 – 1/31/2011

Rosie T. Dog, ?/2008 –

Everyone, I am terribly sorry to tell you that I got The Call today and had to go pick up Elsie from where a pedestrian had found her, for a rush to the vet that I knew was of no avail, and a sad call to Molly in the office. I had seen her perhaps 10 minutes before, in her usual haunt. It’s among the more shattering experiences of my life to date.

I don’t know what we could have done differently or better, but searching will take a long time. The shock of having what at times seemed a fun sort of caper – “Oh, that dog!” – turn into such a void will similarly take a long time to accept. There’s not, always, a lesson at the end of the book. It is unimaginable that such a perfectly innocent creature is no longer with us, not allowed to live out more than her allotted two years, or to learn the supreme peace and satisfaction of being a Good Dog. It is both happy and excruciatingly sad that she seemed so happy in her last days on the run, putting down her drag-racer rear legs to chase cats, walking around with a distinct swagger, tail up, eating good food in a fun hideout, and playing so energetically and freely with Xzibit. We are terribly, terribly sad that we were not allowed to build on our progress, to show her more thoroughly how much we loved her, and to teach her to be a pet in a loving home.

I am glad for many things. One that we had wished most fervently for when we had her back in our home, was that we would be able to hear her “tiny voice.” I am glad that as part of an otherwise very, very hard bargain she did sit down in the middle of the road and bark for a while, while we were on one of our final stakeouts.

We’re not normal people, we wouldn’t have known what to do with a normal dog. I’m glad we had her, when we had her.

I know many of you cared for her, too, and shared in her story. We were delighted by your  affection for her, we passed it on in full measure, and I am sincerely sorry for your loss as well. Many of you have asked “what you can do to help,” as one does, meaning it fully while knowing the answer is almost always “thank you, but nothing.”  Well, listen up.

There are many charities that take care of animals in extremis, and I hope that you support those as a matter of course. In fact, if you don’t have a dog, please give; your portion of this flowchart is complete. But alleviating suffering is not the only way to increase the net joy in the world, and in fact seems the inefficient side to focus on when we have all these dogs around.  So there is something we are asking you to do. If time permits, I would love for those of you that do have a dog to take them out this weekend, and enjoy an act of grace. For Elsie’s sake and ours, please have a special, fun time that you would not otherwise have had.  In fact, why don’t you make time permit, because, FYI from this seat, your other weekend plans are comparatively stupid and trivial.  Call your parents, see if they’ll take their dog out. Too cold? Just push the furniture aside and go at it. The only thing that I could think that would truly comfort Molly and I would be to know that this resulted in hundreds of real, additional fetches fetched, trees sniffed, muddy trails hiked, balls snatched, and that finally, dozens of conniving fleece people and untrustworthy knotted ropes will be brought to justice for their many crimes.

My mom always said a well-loved dog has many names.  Both the family I had with my parents and the smaller one we have here are highly verbal, so that may have been more true for us than elsewhere. It was central to how we expressed our joy with her, and part of the constant stream of perky chatter we used to let her know that this was a positive and safe place.

So goodbye to:



Puffalina (Signorina Puffalina, Signorina)

Worm-dog (with reference to sandworm-like blanket burrowing)

Scooch-alope (when she needed to move from part of the kitchen)

The Ankle Supervisor

Toilet Dog (when sitting next to the toilet observing makeup application)







Little Coyote

Lost Canine

Elsie-face (prolonged, with remonstrative affection.)

Puppy package

Bed hat (when insisting on being Molly’s “hat” in bed)

Cookie paws

Paw collection

Puppy pile

Wrinkle pile



Our Noble Courser

Proud Trot




Good Girl.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephanie Svec permalink
    February 1, 2011 4:57 am

    I am so sorry for yours and Molly’s loss. There are no words that I can say that will make things better, I know from experience. I had two beagles for 15 years. Buddy and Rosie. They were amazing and as I always said “the best girl beagle and the best boy beagle, ever”. Just today I found a beagle hair in my car. I miss them all the time. Take care of yourselves.

  2. Michael permalink
    February 1, 2011 9:53 am

    Devastating. Have been feeling my own dog want for a while now. At 43 am I past it?, Devastating. Topher got to sleep with the Johnson pooch and it seemed to go really well. Devastating. Listened to 45-minute rant by my boss who lives in Old Town Alexandria about a lame dog rescue a few mornings ago in which she thought she was involved. Payed attention and made sure to get a good description just in case. Devastating. I can’t port r my baby from having to had his tonsils ski e’d out poprjudgnebtnotethetime

  3. Michael permalink
    February 1, 2011 10:01 am

    Sorry Iost my way a little there. Weird time of day to be weeping so hard for an unmet dog. Really just condolensces for your loss.

  4. Patty Williams permalink
    February 1, 2011 2:17 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss! Colin, I work with your mom and have been following Elsie’s story. It has been quite comical but, unfortunately, now a sad, painful ending. You and your wife sound like loving, wonderful people. You gave Elsie a terrific opportunity for a good, safe home but she was a canine nomad and had to do her own thing. She is now safe in doggy heaven. My sincere condolences to you both.

    Patty Williams

  5. Tara permalink
    February 1, 2011 5:19 pm

    My heart breaks for you two. I’m so sorry. I will play extra hard with Annabelle tonight and say a little prayer that you can remain comforted by the time you had with a special little doggie.

  6. Casey Korba permalink
    February 1, 2011 5:56 pm

    What a nice essay and tribute to Elsie. I was devastated when Tyler told me the news. Even though I never got to meet her, she seemed like such an adorable, fantastic little dog and such a part of your family. Thinking of you guys…hugs to you both.

  7. February 3, 2011 5:34 pm

    We will give Cosmo the time of his life this weekend.

  8. February 3, 2011 5:42 pm

    What Amanda said. Please also know that we’re thinking about you guys, and wishing you whatever small comforts may be available to you right now.

  9. Anne Acorn permalink
    February 4, 2011 12:23 am

    I am so sorry! Having adopted a dog from a shelter who has “special” issues, I know the deep love you had for Elsie. I can’t even begin to imagine the heartache you both are feeling at this moment. People with “normal” dogs don’t quite understand the level of love that goes with owning a “unique” dog. Yeah, there were times when I felt like giving up and broke down in tears from frustration, but when he shows me affection with a lick on my hand for the first time after a year and a half of owning him, I know it’s worth it.
    Elsie sounded like a true character and totally lovable. All I can say is I am glad you were able to give her the best gift in the world for her short time on Earth: love, family and acceptance. She may never have had that unless you two came around. She was blessed to have had you in her life and you were more then blessed to have known her. Everyday I think, “What if Michael and I had never adopted Orly, our dog? What would have happened to him?” Then I realize he probably would have never left the shelter, because who wants to take on a big dog with behavioral problems. And if he did get adopted, he most certainly would have been brought back, like he had so many times before. He is blessed to have us, but I feel more blessed having known him. I have learned more about relationships, love and life from this dog then I have from all the pets I have ever owned and a few of the people I have known in my life.
    I hope you can one day take comfort in knowing Elsie is at peace.

  10. February 4, 2011 5:52 am

    We wil play in memory of elsie this weekend. We know the pain you feel too, its a terrible shock to lose a beloved dog in an instant. We lost our 3-yr old Rosie when she dashed out in front of a truck on a dark rainy night.
    May Elsie’s memory lighten your hearts, till you meet again.

    jack & moo

  11. February 4, 2011 1:10 pm

    I hopped over here from Khyra’s Khorner. I want you to know that ABSOLUTELY FOR SURE my 4 dogs and I will get out this weekend and have a good long walk in honor of your pups, and will send you good wishes from far away Alaska. Actally we walk most every day but we will certainly get out in honor of your sweet pup(s) this weekend. So sorry that this happened to you, please keep that special angel dog in your hearts always. I don’t know what more you could have done. Don’t be so hard on yourself. There is a special place in Heaven for people like you. xo

  12. February 4, 2011 2:28 pm

    It’s a comforting thought to know that Elsie-Face had you two to love her in spite of herself. I’m sending you my bestest, comforting purrs today…and mom says she’ll play hardhardhard with Neville, our young Corgi, otherwise known as Sir Snoots-Alot.

    Your friend,


  13. February 4, 2011 2:51 pm

    Stumpy will enjoy the extra playtime, in Elsie’s honor.

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Stumpy and her bean

    via Khyra’s Khorner

  14. February 4, 2011 4:43 pm

    We read about you on Khyra’s blog and are so deeply sorry for your loss of your beautiful girl Elsie. Your wrote a very loving tribute to her and it sounds like she was a wonderful pup with a sweet, brave, and quirky personality, and we are sad we did not know her until now. Please know our hearts, prayers, and thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

    We love your suggestion of extra time, attention, play, and love to pets this week-end. Suka will be getting just that, in memory of dear Elsie.

    K and Suka

  15. Thuglets permalink
    February 4, 2011 5:54 pm

    we came over from Kyrha’s blog. We are so dreafully sorry for your loss.

    Please know you are in our thoughts.

    Run free with the wind in your face Elsie.

    Big Nose POkes
    The Thugletsx

  16. February 4, 2011 7:06 pm

    I came here via Khyra and have just spent some time reading your story. What a horrible ending, but lovely tribute to a much loved dog. My thoughts and prayers are for you, as I have lived through a situation similar to this, prior to owning my current 3 dogs. Nothing I can say can make this easier but know that people are thinking of you! My pups will have the time of their lives this weekend, in honour of Elsie.

    Jen and the Black Dog Crew

  17. February 4, 2011 8:45 pm

    Khyra sent us over. We skimmed over your story about Rose/Elsie. We so happy at all the lengths you went to, to find her and bring her back home. It is such a shame that she got awway again and this time with these results. We are sending our best purrs to help your hearts heal. She is now romping somewhere that she won’t have to worry about getting run over, or being to cold, or not being fed.

    We promise to make Meowm play with us a bit extra this weekend, since we are indoor kitties and won’t be romping in the snow.

    Junior, Orion and Meowm

  18. February 4, 2011 10:10 pm

    I just came back from taking my Airedale on a lovely winter walk in honor of Elsie….we had read your blog…most of it back to the beginning…

    The very least we could do was and is to honor your request to experience JOY with our beloved canines. So Stanley and I went to the park here in Pittsburgh and walked a hardpacked snow trail with the afternoon sun starting to slant, but peaking brightly through the woods. A winter stream bubbled and chirped. Birds sang.

    We were at PEACE.

    Thank you…your Elsie is much loved.

    Scruffy, Lacie, Stanny and their mom in Pittsburgh

  19. February 4, 2011 11:42 pm

    We are glad for the time you had together to celebrate and share but are beyond sad that this time was cut short and that your little girl will never experience the incredible forever family you would have been. May you find peace and comfort in knowing that your “call to action” will send a ripple of puppy love across the world…The White Dog Army will most certain get an extra dose in Elsie’s honor.

  20. February 5, 2011 1:51 am

    I am so sorry. Rest in peace. 😦

  21. February 5, 2011 1:55 am

    We are so mixed with emotions here – happy to see the kind words and plans for the furries YET sad to know the reason we’ve all visited –

    As the human owned by a Siberian – and one with the EXTRA runner gene – I know the worry associated with escapes –

    I’ve also been part of a transport – Rocky The Akita – that made the two day journey from NC to NJ last June only to bolt from his new owners almost straightaway – he was on the run for eight days – and due to lots of hard work and efforts, was recaptured – and has recently found his new furever home – Khyra and I even made the slightly longer than 3 hours trip to help with the surveillance and stakout the Friday evening into Saturday morning – we even saw him Saturday about 5:30 – unfortunately, at that time, only two of us were there and couldn’t quite see where he had darted off to – it turns out he probably did head towards the spot he was finally snagged early Monday evening!

    Our best to all!

    Khyra and Phyll

  22. February 5, 2011 2:28 am

    We are so incredibly sorry for your loss, but we are taking your challenge to heart. We will take some special time just to romp this weekend in honor of Elsie.

  23. Holly & Khady permalink
    February 5, 2011 5:07 am

    We came over from Khyra’s blog. We are so very sorry for your loss. We will definitely do some playing this weekend in honor of Elsie. I bet she is having a wonderful time leading the play at the rainbow bridge.

    Holly & Khady

  24. Dee and Sadie permalink
    February 5, 2011 1:04 pm

    Molly and Colin,
    We have been following your story and are so terribly sad to hear this news. Sadie and I will, indeed, take an extra-long walk(the better to alert to those maddening squirrels) this weekend, in honor of your special and spirited girl. Lots of love.

  25. February 27, 2011 2:49 pm

    Tim and Colin — I just stumbled accross the blog for the first time since just after she was found, before. I had no idea she went missing again and I’m SO sorry about how it went. I probably speak for others in saying that your strength gives strength to others And your call to action (play) was perfect; I hope it has been answered many times, and will be answered many more times in the future!


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