I wanted a dog ever since I was seven years old, but it wasn’t ‘til I was about 12 that I started tearing out dog photos in Life and Seventeen magazines and taping them up on kitchen cabinets, refrigerator and my parents’ bedroom door. That didn’t go over all that well. My mother made it very clear I wasn’t getting one any time soon when she said, “You can get a dog when you get married.” So, I did.

We got a dog after our 13-year-old daughter pleaded with us for one and finally put together a PowerPoint on the benefits. She even overcame objections (in this case my allergies) by recommending breeds that were considered hypoallergenic.

That’s where Moose the Maltese came in. We went to a breeder, chose the more energetic of two puppies and took him home. That was in the spring. That summer my daughter went off to camp. And guess who started to take care of Moose? Yes, c’est moi. So, a strange thing happened that summer. Moose became my dog—trotting after me, asking me for food, sleeping in my bed, and when my daughter came home, choosing me as his master.

I loved having Moose tail me wherever I went. Me and this six-pound, white ball of energy. He barked at anyone who rang the doorbell, strangers and any other dog, but saved his love for me. When Moose got ill a few years ago I had to race over to my local veterinary hospital in a borrowed truck in the middle of a snowstorm. I waited there for three days until it became clear the vets couldn’t save him, no matter what the treatment.

I still miss Moose. Every night when I put the key in my door and don’t hear his yap, or every day when he used to lick my hand while I spooned out his food. I joke about wishing I had his DNA to clone him.

I’ll get another dog one day, but there will only be one Moose Birnbaum.

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