To the least photogenic, but sweetest dog of the Maliska Family

Dear Coco,

You were such a loser we wanted the other dog more than you, but she was gone when we returned from lunch, so we got stuck with the little black Puerto Rican rescue, Louisa (THANK GOD we fixed your name). You were small, scared but undeniably cute. The whole drive home we listened to “Two Tickets to Paradise” by Eddie Money to make sure you knew how lucky you were (we had no idea how lucky we were to adopt you). You got a loving family, a great home, solid meals, plenty of exercise and all the cookies you could handle.

For a long time there you were just a baby. We had to carry you down the stairs in the farmhouse because you were too small to go down those giant and treacherous steps. You would sit at the bottom or top of the steps, whining to get to the other end and inevitably someone would kindly scoop you up. Holding your little tail between your back paws you would gently rest your head on our shoulder or chest. There are few moments more tender and heart melting than that.

You finally grew up and were able to move up and down the stairs by yourself. The best was to watch you run down and make a sharp left turn to avoid running into the door. It always seemed like you would run headfirst into the door, but you never did. We would take you outside and play with you. Your excitement, energy and exuberance refreshed us all, especially after losing another great Maliska Family dog – Jimmy.

Then you entered your shithead teenage years. You would run away. You crashed a wedding. The winter came and you refused to come inside, even though you were shivering. You would nip at heels and be a general pain in the ass. I remember the early spring day when Mom said, “That’s it. I can’t take it anymore, we’ve got to get rid of her. She simply is uncooperative and too much of a trouble maker to handle.” This was a monumental occasion, as we had NEVER willingly given up a dog. Everyone generally agreed but we said you had ONE more day to reform your ways. You must have overheard, because I’ve never seen a scared straight routine work so well.

Then you got a brother, Goose. He was old, a little decrepit and by the way you two first met, rather horny. You quickly whipped him into shape, establishing yourself as the top dog. For the first time you had a playmate and got to hang out with someone other than the cats during the day. You would run circles around the old man, chasing balls, squirrels, leaves and anything that moved in the yard. After a couple years, Goose’s ticket number was called and you were back to being the lone dog.

Fortunately Mom has a soft spot and an affection for loser dogs, so it wasn’t too long until you got another brother, Buddy. What Buddy lacked in intelligence, looks and functionality he certainly made up for in personality and companionship. You were top dog from the beginning and Buddy was happy to live out his final years with a little black sister who got to boss him around. The thing that drove us all crazy is how you and Buddy would bark at ANYONE and ANYTHING that dared to cross into the yard. For some reason, any movement outside the house meant you and Bud needed to be on high alert. It drove us crazy, but also gave us all something else to love about you – your tough girl attitude. Buddy had a good run, but as all old labs do, he finally was called up to the big dog park in the sky.

Then finally, after years of suffering with boy dogs and two cats, you finally got a sister. Bella, the horse dog, came into your life. Another loser on her 3rd home you got to be top dog for a while more. You got to boss Bella around and run the house. Eventually age and size caught up with you and Bella took the reigns. You were transforming from the spry, wild and exuberant black dog, into a white chinned, old and wise black dog.

The day we all prayed for when you were doing laps around the house at 100 mph had come, you were getting fat, slow and a little lazy. You had good days and bad days, but through all of them you were the most loving little dog anyone could ever ask for. You and Bella developed a jealous sister routine, frequently trying to find the best path to get pet, cookies or any form of attention. You slept together, took walks with Mom around the clinic together and gave everyone unbounded love and affection.

Then it happened. It seemed to happen over night. You got old. Like really old. Your hips got sore and you were far less interested in going outside. Bladder control became an issue. But through it all, you always had a love, excitement to see family and earnestness to you that was undeniable. We had a scare with your leg over Christmas, but you rebounded wonderfully. But the time finally caught up today and sadly we had to put you down. I knew something wasn’t right, you were lumpy, breathing weird and seemed to generally be out of it. Mom shared the news, tumor in your belly.While I wasn’t there for it, I could hear how hard it was on Mom from the phone call. I’m sure she has harder moments in life, but this was probably a top 10.

It’s hard to express just how much you meant to all of us. It is certainly different for all of us. For me, it’s the fact knowing that no matter how long I was away from home, or what time of night I would show up after driving the 6 hours from Philadelphia, I could count on you greeting me at the door and with 100% certainty peeing from excitement. Then you’d give me a couple licks, wait for a cookie and run off to bed. Only to climb in by bed hours later, curl up behind my legs and rest your dainty little chin on the back of my knee. God damn, you are a good dog.

So I’ll leave with these final few remarks, dearest Coco. We may have given you “Two Tickets to Paradise” those 11 years ago, but you’ve given us a lifetime of love, happiness and affection, something I think is worth far more than “Two Tickets to Paradise”. I’ll have more dogs in my life and will have equally sappy notes to them, but you’ll always rank up there as the “1st Loser to be adopted by the Maliska Family”, “Least Photogenic” and most importantly “Highest Affinity to Lick, Love and Cuddle Unconditionally”.

Good bye sweet Coco, enjoy the big dog park in the sky with your brothers Goose and Buddy. Say hello to the other Maliska Family dog alumni Teddy and Jimmy too. You’ll like Teddy, he’s like Bella – big, loving and affectionate, even if he is a boy.

Finally, and I think this is the biggest compliment that can be handed out to anyone of any species, I hope that all of my dogs will be as good as you are. I hope they grow up to be like you – loving, patient and sweet.

May all your walks be long, all your cookies be good with a nearby carpet to eat them on and your couches be filled with people waiting for a good cuddle.

Love,
Charlie

P.S. The cats will miss you too and we all know you’ll miss them.

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Comments
4 Responses to “To the least photogenic, but sweetest dog of the Maliska Family”
  1. penny maliska says:

    OH, Char. You got me good with that. Good job.

  2. Jenika Kurtz says:

    charlie, this is too fantastic! i have tears in my eyes and i only met her twice. what a sweet, sweet homage to a pal whom i’m sure was just as thankful to have you as you were to have her.

  3. becky says:

    A beautiful tribute, Charlie. Just beautiful.

    • Janice Provost Patterson says:

      How emotional was that! I’ve had three dogs die in my arms and I remember how sad that is to lose a pet. Janice Provost Patterson/AZ

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