Montag (named for the fireman in Ray Bradbury's book Fahrenheit 451, but
called Montague on all official documents) was a blue-merle Cardigan Corgi.
He had to have been the most handsome and cute dog ever - with blue, blue
eyes and black eye liner, huge upright ears, darling little stocky corgi
legs, a long fluffy tail, and a cocky bold, but totally sweet attitude to
My first husband and I got him as a puppy after I spent hours on the phone
talking with dog people in at least five states. We wanted a herding dog,
but one who would enjoy sailing. For the first four years of Montag's life
he sailed nearly every weekend and for three weeks at a time in the summer.
He loved to run up on the bow and bark his head off at the Dall's porpoises
that surfed the bow wave. He knew all the sailing terms and then some. We
could not say certain words because he understood too much, such as
porpoise, seal, bow, cockpit, mid-ships (that meant he could disembark),
down below, and go ashore (he jumped in the dinghy one time after we had
said to each other "let's go ashore."),.
Montag shared the household with two cats - Stella and Silas. Even though
Silas was always getting the better of Montag, such as blocking him so he
couldn't go up the stairs, Montag truly loved the cats and would come to
their aid any time a friend's dog got a little too rambunctious with them.
When Montag was four and a half, my first husband died in a car accident.
The only reason I made it through the dark time of grief that followed was
Montag's constant and ever present loving companionship. Montag accompanied
me wherever I could manage to bring him -- work, appointments, and long,
long LONG walks, gardening, and of course to all the off-leash parks. Montag
was such a funny and sweet dog. He truly was a clown. We could spend hours
playing hide and seek, go find the toy, etc. and we could spend hours just
snuggling. (We even had a handsignal for "scratch butt.")
Everyone loved Montag. He was even welcome at the nursing home where my dear
mother spent her final days.
After I had been widowed for a number of years I finally felt ready to date
men. I figured I'd meet some nice guy in the ballroom dance classes I was
taking. Meanwhile, Montag and I continued to go to the off leash park
regularly. Montag always chose his favorite people and fellow dogs. He
selected this nice man who had a beautiful border collie named Kip. Whenever
they were at the park, Montag would seek them out and hang out with Kip.
Kip's owner (or "dad" as we called him) was a man named Patrick. We'd talk
together and play with the dogs.
Several months later Montag was attacked by a pit bull at the park (Patrick
and Kip weren't there at the time). It was pretty scary, but a number of
people helped me literally pry Montag's neck out of the pit bull's mouth.
After Montag's neck healed, we went back to the park. (I figured the pit
bull owner wouldn't be there again, and I also figured little Montag needed
to be able to claim the park as his again.) I was surprised because Montag,
who was normally a very confident little dog, truly was very nervous about
being at the park. The dog who gave him back his confidence was Kip --
Kippie -- who played fetch all afternoon with Montag and let Montag be the
one to bring back every ball.
About this time Patrick rescued a second dog, an Australian Shepherd, whom
he named Kiya. She was a little spit fire. Patrick, Kip, Kiya, Montag and I,
along with two other friends, all went sheepherding. Montag was nine years
old at this point. He absolutely loved chasing after those sheep! Patrick
and I and all three of the dogs enjoyed the herding so much that we did it
again several weeks later. Something magical happened that time because
shortly after that Patrick and I became an item. Several months later we got
engaged and moved in together. Between the two of us we had three dogs and,
well, let's just say we were well above the city limit for cats.
So began Montag's final years. He loved being a part of a pack. He and Kiya
were especially close. They both were clowns and they both were snugglers.
Even though he was the shortest and the smallest, Montag remained the top
dog for at least the first year after we all became one household. As he got
older, being top dog was just too hard and he relinquished the job
gracefully to Kiya. Most of all, Montag loved having a daddy! Montag
absolutely adored Patrick and would follow him everywhere. And Patrick loved
this silly little corgie. It truly did my heart good!
After Patrick and I got married, we bought 5 acres of land in Winthrop,
Washington - a rural valley in the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains.
Montag, Kip and Kiya loved the country. We built a house and this last June,
moved out here. Oh the doggy days of rolling in deer pee, on a good day
running through the pasture with Kip and Kiya, laying out on the deck when
the summer evenings finally cooled down! But we knew we wouldn't get to have
Montag with us for much longer. He suffered from oesteoarthritis. His hips
were giving out and he could not walk on most surfaces. As his hips
degenerated and the pain intensified, he became unable to follow us through
the house, let alone take long walks outside. After a while the medication
just couldn't bridge the gap.
We agonized. Montag was fourteen and a half years old, and true, his
hearing, his eyesight and his cognition were all going, but other than the
degenerating hips, he was incredibly robust. We researched options - dog
carts, slings -- we tried dog booties to help him gain traction. Slowly we
came to realize that we had come to a point where Montag could no longer
enjoy any of the things that made life worth living. How do you reach that
turning point? We are grateful to our veterinarian in Seattle and to our
veterinarian in Winthrop who both listened and listened and guided us
through all the questions that would help us reach a loving decision, and no
doubt cried a little with us.
Little Montag's end was peaceful. We sedated him before bringing him to our
vet to get euthanized. He fell asleep out in the sunshine on his dog bed
while licking out an empty peanut butter jar. When our vet administered the
final injection, Montag was calm. We drove him home and buried him next to a
beautiful crab apple tree on our hill.
His passing has left a huge hole - in our hearts, in the fabric of our
lives, but we are grateful Montag is no longer suffering. We are grateful
for Kip and Kiya who keep us laughing and shaking our heads. We will never,
ever forget the dear little Cardigan Corgi named Montag -- Montague.
Patrick and Kathryn H.