Jewish World Review July 11, 2003 / 11 Tamuz, 5763

Greg Crosby

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Consumer Reports

Losing | Losing. What a negative concept! With the possible exception of excess weight and bad habits, nobody likes to lose anything. The dictionary defines lose as " to be unsuccessful in retaining possession of. To be deprived of something one has had." Losing, like just about every other human abstract condition, is relative. Losing a few bucks in a slot machine in Las Vegas may not be a source of great joy, but it is not the end of the world, either. Losing your wallet containing a great deal of money and all your credit cards, however, is somewhat more serious. Losing one's job is even worse. Losing a loved one is about as bad as it can get.

I've been thinking about "loss" quite a bit this past week. Not the wallet type, the more serious kind. I've had my share of loss, as we all have -- although, some people have more of it than others. There are the poor souls with no luck at all -- those who are handed devastating loss after devastating loss in their lives.

We've all heard the horror stories and thanked God that we weren't the unfortunate ones involved. Then there are a few lucky individuals who seem to have charmed lives -- somehow they manage to experience far fewer losses than the rest of us, blithely skating around pitfalls and somehow coming out on top.

Life isn't fair someone said, and someone was right. As for me, I guess my major losses have been about average -- but that doesn't make them any easier to take when they hit.

My wife and I lost our best friend this week when we had to say good-bye to Moose, our faithful golden retriever. Moose had been an important part of lives since we adopted him from a rescue shelter when he was four and a half years old. That was just over eight years ago -- it doesn't seem that long.

When we first saw him at the shelter he looked so sad, his nose on the cement floor of the cage, his eyes at once watching us then moving slowly back down to the ground -- as if he knew his chances for adoption were pretty hopeless. He touched our hearts immediately. We thought we were doing him a favor by bringing him home with us, but we were the ones who were lucky. The joy and love he brought into our lives for eight years is indescribable.

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He was a sweet, good boy. A loyal protector. A playmate. A companion. A constant source of pleasure and maker of endorphins. He listened to us laugh, he listened to us argue, he watched over us. He joined us at mealtime in the kitchen. He followed us from room to room. He tried to keep his eyes on both of us wherever we went in the house. I know he would have much preferred if my wife and I could've stayed together in the same room at all times -- it made his job tougher having to go back and forth between us. He sat on the couch with us in the evenings. He slept with us at night. The three of us were a family in the truest sense.

He was a gentle boy, not at all the kind of dog who'd jump up and slobber all over your face. He didn't lick often, but when he did kiss you, you knew it was special. And he would smile. I swear. He knew every word we said -- so much so that we took to spelling. He made his wants known to us through his expressions, eye movements, and barking. Those eyes -- I don't think I'll every forget them.

Family and friends loved Moose, too. Whenever anyone called, invariably they'd ask about Moose. He had a way of making everyone feel important and wanted. He really knew how to get into a person's heart.

Moose was my very special friend at a time when I really needed a special friend. A few years ago I went through a pretty rough period and he helped get me through it. I can't really explain it, but he did. He sat by my side, listened to me, looked me in the eyes and if it were in his power to do so, he would have hugged me -- I know it. Nothing I can write here could properly convey the emptiness I feel at having lost my best friend.

Yes, I've had my share of loss. Moose is the latest in a string of big losses for me over the past six years. With each loss, I've managed to get through it and move on. I know I'll get through this one too but it won't be as easy as the others. You see, my special friend is not here to help get me through it this time.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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