Mattingly “Matty” the dog passed away yesterday. He was surrounded by his family and was able to die at home thanks to a wonderful vet that makes house calls. One of my great joys in life was stretching out on the floor and letting him “little spoon” into me. When it was time, I stretched out again for the last time and curled around him with my hand on his chest. I thanked him. “Thank you” had always come more naturally to me than “Good boy!”
I placed my hand on his chest so I could feel his heart stop myself. He was thirteen.
Matty was adopted at the age of two (ish) from the North Shore Animal League, selected because he was surrounded by cages of dogs barking while he was curled up and sound asleep. His ability to fall asleep anywhere in the middle of ruckus would continue throughout his life. He loved wandering into the middle of a house party and nodding off surrounded by friends.
Matty had really short legs and a really long body that made people stop and smile at him. He was a “people dog” and got on well with everyone including very small children. He would approach them gently (usually right at eye level, as he was so short), having learned they would often produce snacks from their pockets, or at least be likely coated in a delicious film of applesauce or peanut butter. If nothing else, he delighted in their very tiny pats, and would allow them to marvel at the floppy softness of his years and explore his nostrils with their fingers. He loved visitors, too, defined in his mind as anyone who came through the front door, which once included a drunk three am intruder that he greeted sleepily with a wagging tail.
His family quickly learned to avoid putting comforters, stuffed animals, and bath mats in his reach as he would pull them apart while spreading the stuffing throughout the room. After conquering his stuffed enemy, he would fall asleep curled up on the tufts and strings of victory.
“Matty ball” was a solo game he invented that was delightful to watch. He would throw the ball across the yard with his foot then scurry towards it and catch it in his mouth. When he wasn’t doing this he would wrestle with his sister, Leeloo, or have a nap in the backyard.
A heavy fur coat meant Matty was always ready for a snow storm: his favorite weather. When the snow would pile up over his face he would bound through it, seemingly laughing, with only the very top of his black head visible in the bobbing up and down. Occasionally he would stretch out in a snow drift luxuriously and let snowflakes pile up on his back.
Matty was very kind. Once in the waiting room at the vet a puppy took his bushy tail for a chew toy and pounced on it. He glanced backward at her tiny, harmless attack and looked back at me with his expressive triangle-shaped eyebrows raised.
“Kids!” he seemed to say, and let her continue playing as long as she wanted.
Everyone loved when a fire truck went by and Matty was in the room. He would howl his response: a long, full, wild note, and those in the room with him – dog and human alike – typically joined in. The more voices he managed to raise along with his the harder his tail thumped against the floor in happiness.
Matty was a great partner for swimming, car rides, cuddles, and strolls through the park. He will be missed by all of his good friends, and leave his parents with a long-bodied, short-legged, dog-shaped hole in their hearts.