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To My First Baby Moose,

You brought immeasurable joy and light into my life and I plan to carry your spirit and all our precious memories with me until we are reunited again…

As a naive, 21 year-old fresh out of undergrad at UGA, I went to find you among 9 other brothers and sisters. You were just 5 weeks old, and your soon to be grandma snuggled right up to your calm and affectionate tiny chocolate body.

pickingoutmoose

Your dog mom and dad were only 65 and 75 pounds respectively, so the expectation was that you would top out at about 80 pounds. You were the largest in your litter, 10 pounds at 6 weeks…you hit and flew by that 80 pound mark at about 9 months..
We spent our first few months together living at your grandparents’ brand new lake house on Lake Oconee. I am still unsure as to how I talked them into keeping a puppy in their beautiful home, but you were a gentleman from day 1. The only tiny accident I remember you having was on their green shag carpet downstairs by the pool table. It so closely resembled your outside grassy patch that it was tough to scold you for such an honest mistake.

babymoose

I would leave at 5am to go work on the golf course, hurry home for lunch scarfing a sandwich in the car, so that we could have max play time together. We spent many middle of the nights in the downstairs hallway, your first exposure to fetching a ball, and the beginning of your tennis ball obsession.
Next, we lived in Athens, spending countless afternoons jogging around campus and meeting friends at the dog park. As I searched for what I wanted to be when I grew up, I knew one thing was certain — I loved running and you had grown to like it too. In a concerted effort to wear you out, we would run several miles only to come home to your beloved tennis ball where we would then play fetch for another half hour. We were forced on a long break from our runs while I recovered from 3 back to back to back ankle surgeries in the fall of 2008. We had to move to Macon as I laid bedridden for months. You never left my side.
We decided to live in Macon for a brief period after grad school so I could start my own fitness business teaching others to never take their health for granted. I would teach bootcamps early in the morning and then we would go to the Georgia Children’s Home for afternoon trail fun.

meandmooserunning
Our next city to explore together was Atlanta. That same summer, I found our life’s biggest blessing on a dance floor at a wedding in Athens. That handsome man would quickly become your favorite male companion and the love of your mom’s life.
Bryan and I took you everywhere.

craigsatthelake

The beach, the lake, the mountains, restaurants, shopping around town…among all our travels, your hands down, most favorite place, has always been the lake house. You could smell it from the exit 130 ramp. The way you would sprint down the stairs, out the doors, and leap into the pool is a way I want to attack all of this life’s adventure —with absolute reckless abandon.

moosepooljump

Your size was one of the many things I loved most about you. We would inevitably  hear the same question on our daily walks, “what kind of dog is that?!” I would reply with a huge, proud grin, “He’s a lab. Just a tall, very big one!”

meandthebigdog

I always felt so safe with you and so loved. You would do anything to protect me, whether it was death staring convenient store patrons while I was pumping gas or growling at the mailman stopping in front of our house. Albeit anyone who knew you at all, knew the gentle giant behind all that fur.
You were so gentle with babies and old people alike.
I am forever thankful I was able to watch you with your cousin, Henry. You would have been the best big brother to Baby Craig and I selfishly so wish y’all could have met down here.henrymooselaughing
You were also a great father figure to your uncle Cooper.

chocolateboys

He just adored you and it was so special having both chocolate boys in our wedding.

weddingceremonykiss

You and Coop nailed it and I am so glad we decided to have y’all as part of the bridal pool party the day before too.

bridalpoolparty

What a perfect weekend at our favorite watering hole.

craigfamwedding

We didn’t live with your dad until after the wedding which was the day you had to learn to sleep on the floor…which a few months later turned into the couch.
Working with clients in our home in Peachtree Park, you would sit patiently watching me in a job that I love. You and your dad proved to be the world’s best and most comforting nurses last year while I recovered from my two massive hip surgeries. Sitting still has always been a challenging thing for me, but sitting with  you by my side was what got me through it all.

recoverywithmoose
You were my shadow in every activity. Whether making a meal, checking the mail, taking a shower..I never felt alone for 8.5 years.

You poured love, affection, attention, adoration, and praise on me daily. You taught me how to chase after fun over and over again.

Even though we did everything we thought we could to battle your arthritis the last couple of years – glucosamine and chondroitin, fish oil, acupuncture, cold laser therapy, B 12 shots, massage, putting the tennis ball up ..your big body was slowing down and it was a gut wrenching reality. I am so sorry for the pain you endured and that we couldn’t save your back leg from the infection/cancer. It’s a harsh reminder that life isn’t fair and we aren’t guaranteed a life without suffering. My faith in Jesus, the only one who could get me through this dark time, is what I hold tight to in the days, months, and years ahead as I mourn your passing. I keep repeating Psalm 34:17, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

I can’t wait to be with you again, sweet boy, you were the best dog, my best friend, and greatest teacher. I love you more than words can express, may you rest in pain free peace in a tennis ball filled heaven. I’ll be up there one day to throw for you again.