Friday, September 19, 2008


I got dingo when I was 20 years old. I was about halfway through college, my last dog died about a year before, and brooke broke up with me. so I went to the pound with my friend matt churnock to get my dog (I selected her because when I walked the other dogs and let them off their leash they would run around as if I didn't matter, but when I let her off her leash she jumped up next to me and started licking my face. I figured she was a good dog). on the way home I named her. she was curled up in the back seat of my car, not making a sound, and I said to matt, "I'm going to name her dingo, she looks like a dingo." and matt said "dingo shall be the dog's name."

as it turns out, she actually looks nothing like a dingo.

9 years later, at the age of 11, she got sick. not sure exactly what it was, but she was severely anemic, not eating or drinking, not able to stand up and walk around. it was heart-breaking to see. my friend chris is a fantastic vet and he did everything he could for her, and yesterday I told him "it's okay chris, I think she's dying." and so that was the end. I felt bad for putting chris in the middle of it. he loved dingo too.

some of my favorite stories about dingo include how incredibly violent she could be. there used to be these people in college, these fraternity boys with their bandanna-wearing, frisbee-catching dogs, and they would sometimes come over to visit and let their dog out of the car, and dingo would immediately attack the dog and try to kill it. I one time saw dingo, who was only 40 lbs, take on two dogs both twice her size. by the end of it, all three were pretty bloodied up, and dingo was definitely getting hurt, but the only reason she backed down was because I made her. she always listened to me.

brooke and I used to live in southside, across the street from a drug dealer, next door to a crazy guy who used to try and start fights with me, and we always felt safe because of dingo. whenever we needed some security we'd just walk outside with dingo on the leash. nobody would even think of coming close to us. she wasn't huge, but she had a presence that was massive. you just knew she would kill you if you tried to mess with us.

eventually we learned that dingo really couldn't be let out free, which was fine because she liked being inside with us anyway (she remained the sweetest, calmest, most loyal and comforting dog you can imagine within our home). one time though, she escaped and some neighbors called the cops because they were scared. two police officers knocked on my door and asked if I was the owner of a "small brown dog" and I said "yes, where is she?" and they said they didn't know, neighbors had called...and I said "oh no, you need to get back in your cars" they looked at me like I was joking, and moments later dingo came tearing around the side of the house, going straight after the cops. she pinned them both up against the side of my house before i could get to her. I stepped in as fast as I could and picked her up and while she was in my arms she was still growling and barking at the cops. I carried her inside, apologizing to the police and I heard one of them say "damn, I've never seen a meaner dog..."

so yeah, dingo had this wildly aggressive and protective side that sort of made her famous.

but inside our home, she was perfect. she knew when we were sad and needed to be comforted. she would always lay right by me when I played piano. every time. I would start playing and then hear her feet pattering across the floor and she would just lay there right next to me. whenever we were sick, she would lay there with us. when there was a storm, she would get as close to us as she could, usually burying herself under us, shaking. she was apart of every record I made, because she would never leave my side. I've got all these pictures of working in the studio over the years, and dingo is there in all of them, laying on the floor, watching, sleeping, listening.

everybody always talked about how calm she was, how pleasant she was to be around. but more than anything else, she was apart of our home and her quiet, constant presence made our lives fuller and more complete. it's amazing the connection people can have with animals, especially dogs. and it's even more amazing how unconditionally a dog loves it's people.

yesterday some of the best friends I've got came over and helped me bury her. frank, aaron, kyle, steve. frank picked up her body from the vet for me, and it was surprising. I spent most of the afternoon in total sadness, intermittently crying when I would think of my great, old dog. but when I saw frank pull up I just wasn't sad anymore. and then the other guys showed up and we got to work burying dingo. and then the sadness was gone. I can't explain that, but I do believe that there is something about burying your dead.

sad to lose the best dog I've ever had, but thankful for my friends and my family, and especially for people who keep teaching me what it means to carry things for others.


Danielle said...

This is a beautiful post, Brian. My first dog was 19 years old when she died. My parents got her a few months before I was born, and she was very much a great part of my life. I had never experienced grief or loss like that, and it forever changed me. I know that might sound melodramatic, but it's true. And so I identify in part with what you're feeling. Dingo sounded like an awesome dog, and I'm thankful that you have such fond (albeit hilarious!) memories of your years with her.

Jeff Irwin said...

dingo never liked rob.

(i'm sorry, but that recollection is sudden;y hilarious to me.)

chris said...

So sorry about Dingo, Brian. She was a good dog, scary as hell, but good. I love the story about the time she almost killed the goat..

Matt Churnock said...

I remember that day we went to the Lee county pound and picked her out. I remember sitting in the loby with (what would then be) dingo in my lap while you filled out the paper work. The only thing she did was lick my face as if to say, 'thanks for getting me out of there, I was about to go nuts and do something I would regret.'

I am glad that you ended up with dingo, but I am even more glad that dingo ended up with you.

Let me know if you need a catahoula fix. But don't let mine of the lead, she won't come back.

Zach said...

Brian, I'm sorry to hear about Dingo. What a great dog! I'll never forget how she used to go after that toy in the Airport House. I remember putting her in the ping pong room and waving it at her from the other side of the glass, and watching her jump up as high as the roof to get that thing.

She will be missed!

Carla Jean said...

Oh, Brian. I am so sad for you. I will be devastated someday when my cat dies. Animals are such fantastic companions... one of those great mysteries of life that I can't explain, but knowing that your dog or cat is always there is so comforting.

vang said...

I am sorry to read about Dingo. Dingo was a fun dog.
The Airport House would not have been the same without her.

The Shulls said...

So sorry, Brian.

BrentR said...

I think about Dingo every time I body-slam someone. To Plato, Dingo would be the "universal" dog.

shawn avery said...

this is a great eulogy, and great photos. you can see her personality in every one of them.

pound puppies RULE. i've seen the proof over and over.

seems like you both got lucky to find each other.


Clint Wells said...

i dont know if you remember this, but before I was a dog owner, Dingo was the only dog that I would ever let lick my face.

She bit Shane's back at my engagement party. That was amazing.

I also used to sing songs about how magical Dingo was. I am sad that those days are gone. Goodybe, Dingo.

Anonymous said...

"he has made me glad."

Queen of the Squirrels said...

She looks like she was a great dog; it sounds weird, but I hope I feel just as sad when my dog dies (and I think I will, she's a wonderful pet). I love the first picture of her.

Also, @Chris: killed a goat???

Molly said...

The first time I met Dingo was the first time I met you, Brian. Ryan had brought me down to Auburn to meet you, and I remember getting into the back seat of your old, brown Toyota Corolla and accidentally sitting on Dingo. I was horrified, but she didn't seem to mind. Fast forward several years, and I'm laying on the couch at your beach condo, and Dingo jumps up and curls up close to my chest, and we napped. And I felt very safe. She was a great dog, and she will be missed.

the stones said...

Oh Brian and Brooke - I'm so sad. But I'm also glad that it was in her time ... not because she killed a cat (which by the way is what dogs are supposed to do). I know you're devastated and you should be - she was a wonderful old friend. And while she scared the hell out of me too - I think fear is a good thing and precious that she loved y'all that much.

Ha ha - had the cops pinned against the house. Ha ha ha.

Anonymous said...

My dad has this needlepoint picture on his den wall that reads, "The more I see of some people, the better I like my dog." And then he's always said, "For some reason, I get along best with dogs and children...the rest of folks don't really matter." My dad is old as the hills and pretty Faulkneresque at times. But you and Brooke's mourning for Dingo reminded me of him for some reason. I imagine you might be like my dad when you grow up. J, M and I are sorry for your loss. Miro would probably not say the same, but her one confrontation with Miro in Auburn probably made her a bigger person (dog). -L

Brian T. Murphy said...

danielle - it doesn't sound melodramatic. so many people have stories like that. it's so mysterious.

irwin - that is true, but she like him a little bit. just not as much as the rest of us. that is funny.

chris - yeah that is a good story. that goat seriously barely was on my mother-in-law's farm. gosh that was awful.

churnock - so interesting, how sweet she would be with us, and how non sweet she could be with others. I'm glad you've got a catahoula. great dog.

zach - thanks man. remember how she used to eat through the couch? that was amazing. if we put the toy in the cushions she would totally destroy the sofa trying to get to it. I remember she would tear through the wood and springs and everything.

CJ - thanks, and yes, about the cat. dingo being gone increases your cat's chances of survival by about 6%, so that's a plus.

michael - totally agree. the airport house and dingo, to me, go hand in hand.

shulls - thanks.

brentr - yeah. I think about dingo every time I swing a chainsaw at someone's face. same thing, really.

shawn - so true about the pound puppies. they really are the best. I hope our next dog comes from there.

clint - thinking about those things makes me sad. I remember all the songs about dingo the magic dog.

anon - you must be a mccool.

queen - thanks, yes wonderful dog indeed. and yes, she went after the goat hardcore. she punctured it's trachea and we had to pull her off. afterwards the goat was making the strangest noises.

molly - she always loved to ride in the car. funny that you sat on her. and yes, she would totally cuddle up with a sleeping human. what a great thing.

stones - thanks - funny that she scared the hell out of you. she was seriously such a sweet dog. and yes, very funny about the police.

L - if I end up like your dad, that doesn't seem too bad. I never knew about the miro dingo confrontation. I need to ask you about that next time I see you.

Ashley S. said...

I'm so sad for you guys. Dingo was a great dog... I was always a little intimidated by her but she was always so friendly. Like I said last time I was there, I'm sure that Dingo was a musical genius trapped inside a dog's body from all the music-making she's been a part of. You gave a great tribute to her...

brett said...

nice post.

i remember when she would get riled up, especially when she was younger. her "friendly" bites were definitely harder than any dog i'd ever been around. i usually wondered if she was going to puncture my skin. and you had to be there to tell her to chill out because she totally wouldn't stop for anyone else.

love that last picture. i think that pretty much sums up how she felt about you two.

Anonymous said...

man, i'm really sad about dingo. she was a great dog.

-Josh W.