Saying Good-Bye to Mosqua

This past week our good friend Gino Roussel lost his faithful dog and friend Mosqua. Mosqua was a very special dog and my husband Kevin has written this post as a final good-bye to Mosqua.

Here is Kevin’s guest blog post.

******************************************************

Mosqua (aka Big Guy)

I read an article by a theologian this past week. Reading articles written by theologians is a bad habit which I’ve tried unsuccessfully to shake.

The article, sent to me by someone who knows I am a dog lover, addressed the issue of whether dogs go to heaven.

Not hard to figure out where a theologian would come down on this one. Didn’t even have to read the article. First you figure out the common-sense answer (i.e., Of course dogs go to heaven). The theologian will be one hundred and eighty degrees out of whack with the common sense answer. How else would the person qualify to be a theologian?

Well, I read the article anyway and, sure enough, the theologian’s answer was: “Dogs don’t go to heaven because they aren’t people.” Well, we all know that dogs aren’t people, thank you very much. The problem is, as that eminent thinker Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes fame has pointed out: “The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” Ergo (one of those words theologians use) dogs go to heaven.

If dogs aren’t protected from the vagaries of theological reasoning, the next thing you know theologians will be saying that golfers don’t go to heaven because they occasionally issue an excited utterance that falls on the blasphemous side of the moral equation. Unregulated and unopposed, there’d be no end to this kind of nonsense.

What we need here is a redefinition of heaven to include dogs. Will Rogers almost accomplished this when he said:

“If dogs aren’t allowed into heaven, then, when I die, I want to go where they went.”

What he should have added is the phrase ”and we’ll just call that place heaven instead.” That would have done it.

So, I think Andy, Will and I could lick this apparently thorny theological problem.

You probably wonder what has gotten me off on this eschatological toot. It is the disquieting news yesterday that Gino’s faithful sidekick, Mosqua, has died.

A  P1150859

Those of you who have been reading these bulletins for the past six or seven years know Mosqua very well. He’s a very big German Sheppard Gino acquired after he (Mosqua) was rejected by the Canadian RCMP. He was cut from their training program and destined to be euthanized. His handler convinced Gino to adopt him. This turned out to be a match made in heaven, the opinions of theologians on the subject of predestination to the contrary notwithstanding.

We first met Mosqua in 2008 on our first trip to Baisley Lodges, Gino’s place in St. Jacques, New Brunswick. People always remember their first meeting with Mosqua. If you’re lucky, as I was, there is a car door between you and the 125 pound dog that’s looking to check out your bona fides. He was sitting in the middle of a snow covered driveway and rose to greet us with two low, rumbling barks that caused the chrome on the dashboard to vibrate. When I stopped the car, his nose was level with the base of the driver’s-side window. Then I heard a gruff voice sound out from a shadowy figure in the blowing snow: “Mosqua plant it!” Mosqua sat down immediately but kept his eyes firmly glued to the car.

Then, outlines of the figure cleared through the snow and I thought to myself: “Jesus, it’s Paul Bunyan!” A few seconds later I heard the words “Hi, I’m Gino.” I figured it was safe to roll down the window and shake hands. I noticed that Mosqua’s tail wagged a couple of times and he made half a snow angel behind him. It’s a relief to see a big dog’s tail wag when he’s focused on you.

This was the beginning of a great friendship, human and canine.

Over the years, we’ve heard stories about Mosqua pulling a small child out of the Madawaska River, chasing burglars off Baisley property and saving Gino from an angry bear. The closest I ever came to seeing Mosqua in action occurred on one of our early trips to Baisley.

Gino convinced me that I ought to let him give me a tour of the various trails that the Head Musher would run. This involved hitching up a sled to the back of a snowmobile and having Gino pull the sled around while I stood on the back. As most people say after they’ve done something stupid: “This seemed like a good idea at the
time.” Here is a picture of Gino and his sidekick daring me to get on the sled.

B  P1130546

We pulled out of Baisley with Gino at the wheel, Mosqua sitting on the back of the snowmobile and me standing on the narrow runners of the sled, like a musher without a dog team. Mosqua sat on the snowmobile looking backwards as if expecting me to disappear off the runners at any moment.

C  P1130545

At first he had kind of a somber look on his face

D  P1130552

Then it seemed to turn into a smile.

E  P1130551

Maybe that was after I got hit by the low branch on the Tadpole trail and they had to stop and wait for me to catch up…

F  P1130502

Shortly thereafter we were back on the move

G  P1130498

At one point in the expedition Gino stopped in an open, blustery area appropriately known as “Blizzard Alley”. The wind whipped across the terrain at just under the speed of sound. It was more deserted than the Senate Office Building on a long weekend. Gino stopped here, I believe, so that I would appreciate what it feels like to freeze to death while mushing.

H  P1130510
That’s the Head Musher and her friend Ruth coming across Blizzard Alley.

Shortly after we stopped, a feral cat that patrolled the area appeared in the distance about fifty yards away. The cat saw Mosqua about the same time as Mosqua saw the cat. The cat started to run but Mosqua stayed put on the back of the snowmobile. When Gino felt that the cat had a sufficient head start, he said: “Mosqua, tag it.” Mosqua bolted off the snowmobile and was a blur crossing the hard-packed snow. For a split second, I envisioned myself as a miscreant on the run with Mosqua chasing me. The words” Dead meat!” flashed through my mind.

The cat went into an old barn and then shot out the other side. Mosqua went into the same barn and shot out the same other side. He was gaining on the cat. And then Gino let out an ear-piercing whistle. (Gino only has one kind of whistle…..ear-piercing.) Mosqua stopped dead in his tracks and Gino yelled: “Mosqua, come!” And Mosqua bolted back to Gino and hopped back up on the snowmobile. Gino patted him and said: “Way to go, buddy!” and Mosqua was happy as a clam. That was his exercise for the morning. Seeing Mosqua in action convinced me that turning to a life of crime during my retirement would not be a good idea.

Over the years Mosqua has come to be the alpha male among the 25 or so dogs at Baisley. This power manifests itself in several different ways.

First, he occupies the two cushions on the couch next to Gino in the bunkhouse. Sometimes, he lets his buddy Ralph the cat, sneak in between him and Gino but the closest any human comes to those two cushions is that chair in the lower right hand corner of the picture.

I  P1110169

Second, he rides in the cab of Gino’s truck…

J  Canada 2009 022

…and sleeps there while Gino takes the team out for a run. Nobody bothers the truck when Mosqua is sleeping in the front seat.

K  P1160231

When Gino got a bigger truck, the occasional interloper had to be dealt with. In this sequence of photos you can see Mosqua asserting his prerogative to the passenger’s seat. It involved a three step process: 1) pinning the interloper to the far door, 2) lowering the head and issuing a low meaningful growl, and 3) curling up in the passenger-side seat like the world is back in synch while the interloper wonders what just happened. You wanna talk about Putin in Crimea? He’s got nothing on Mosqua reclaiming territory in the front seat of Gino’s truck!

New truck1

New truck2

New truck3

But there is one thing that sticks (no pun intended) in everyone’s mind who has met Mosqua. He was a stick-chasing maniac.

At the beginning of each day Mosqua would latch on to a stick about the size of a pee wee league baseball bat. Then he would lie in wait for some unsuspecting schmoe (i.e., yours truly) to come along. Here he is wandering across the yard with large stick in mouth looking for the aforementioned schmoe.

Big stick

Once he was in position, the stick-ritual would start. Drop the stick at the victim’s feet, stare into the victim’s eyes, stare back down at the stick, and stare back into the victim’s eyes. Bark once as if to say “Pick up the stick and throw it, idiot!”

So, you’d pick up the stick and throw it and he would bolt after it, slam on the brakes as he reached it and skid to a halt in a cloud of ice and snow like Guy LaFleur in front of an opponent’s net. Then he’d pounce on the stick with both front paws, pick up what was left of it in his jaws and run it back to the thrower. This would continue until the thrower’s right arm, having stretched out to about five inches longer than his left, finally dropped off, and Mosqua realized that he had to find another victim.

Mosqua would never tire and he would chase the stick anywhere, even into the deepest snow. But he always found the stick.

Snowbank

Throughout the day he conned several people into throwing the stick. The stick gradually got smaller and smaller. By late afternoon it was the size of a small cigar. In fact, it looked as though he was smoking a cigar.

Cigar

By evening, it was the size of a toothpick. Late one day we were out in the woods and he dropped a tiny stick at my feet. I said: “Mosqua, that’s a pathetic looking stick!” He disappeared into the woods; there was a large commotion; he came out dragging a small tree that he had uprooted, laid it at my feet, looked up at me and barked. That was the last time I criticized his stick.

Most importantly, of course, Mosqua was Gino’s constant companion, his shadow. When Gino ran the saw in the sawmill, Mosqua was there to drag the cuttings out of the way. When Gino walked the dogs every morning and night, Mosqua was there to lend a hand. Occasionally, he would get caught up in the canine excitement and Gino would say “Mosqua, Plant it!” Mosqua’s rear-end would hit the deck right next to Gino. And then Gino would look down at Mosqua and say “Mosqua, straighten it up!” and Mosqua would look at Gino’s feet and wiggle his rear-end until it was perfectly aligned with his feet. And they would stand there like two soldiers reviewing the troops as the Baisley snowhounds raced by.

Mosqua was a special dog. My bet is that there are a bunch of dogs in Will Rogers’ heaven and that each of us knows at least one that will always reside in our heart’s neighborhood.

I suspect, at this very moment, that Old Saint Pete, rather than checking his book at the gate to see who’s allowed in and who isn’t, is picking up Mosqua’s stick and throwing it through the gates.

R.I.P. Big Guy. Thanks for leaving your paw prints on my life.

The One Man Pit Crew

1 Comment
  1. Wonderful Kevin. What a loss, sounds like a very special friend. Us dog people will meet him in heaven.

Leave a Reply

Healthy Recipes

Nutrition

Mushing in Ocean City MD