Bob’s beloved dog, Monk, passed away just before the holidays. He died peacefully of old age, but he will be sorely missed by anyone who had the honor of knowing him – most especially by Bob. Monk was with us on every shoot and his sage spirit will live on in THE LAST PIG. Below is Bob’s moving account of this special being…
When we got our first two pigs, Monk – half pit bull, half lab – at three years old, was a late teen, full of life, energy, an incredible sense of smell, hearing, and sight, the memory of an elephant, the wit of a small child, the power and strength of a freight train, the speed and agility of a rabbit (although, he never actually caught a rabbit), the stamina of a Dingo, the utter abandon of the truly fearless, and the devotion, commitment, and love of the bestest of best friends, willing to trot along behind the tractor, up and down hills, across dales, through tall grass and short, through bramble and brush all day long to do chores.
Unegotistically displaying his prowess, I watched him once chase three deer flat out for five hundred yards, gaining on them with every ground devouring stride before giving it up (the deer had had a fifty yard head start, as they had been down the field a bit when we passed through a hedgerow). It was a sight to behold, absolute majesty. I can still hear the loud thump of his feet pounding the ground as he launched into a sprint, then trailing off behind him as he moved ever further away from me. He trotted back to me, tail high, wagging, breathing perfectly normal. I got the sense that he could have kept up that gallop for miles before tiring. Clearly, he was indeed “a force of nature,” as his vet liked to call him.
About five years in, when the pig farm was taking off, but was not yet mechanized, there was an incredible amount of hand labor, and I would stumble in for lunch after six hours of work and collapse at the kitchen table to eat and rest. Monk would lay at my feet, waiting patiently while I ate, and when it was time to get back to work, he would leap up and beat me to the door, eager to hear, smell, see, taste whatever the world had in store for him as if every encounter were his first.
In this picture of Monk – who happens to be the most handsome dog in the world, I say with all the objectivity I can muster – sitting in the woods, you can see from his posture how he has aged, how his approach to life has changed. His front legs are not square. He is heavy on his haunches. The only thing he is ready to launch into is bed, for a nap, if he can make it up into the bed, that is. Sometimes his “launches” only get him halfway there and you have to lift his hind legs up while his front legs and paws rest on the bed. He is thirteen years old, a true geriatric. His deep black muzzle has gone completely gray. He is deaf as a stone. His eyes are clouding up. His old bones ache. His joints creak. He walks with a bow-legged jaunt. When we come up on deer fifty yards down a field, if the deer aren’t startled and continue grazing Monk will sometimes casually sit back on his haunches and just intently watch them, perhaps nostalgically, perhaps not.
Monk is at that age where it is impossible to know: he might have six months, he might have three years. Whatever he has, he is going to make the most of it. Ten years as a farm dog has him fit as a fiddle, and while he has slowed and grown more deliberate (and deliberative) in where, when, and how he expends his energy (rabbits, once a true and irresistible challenge get hardly a glance), and while he can now happily sleep for twenty three hours a day if that’s what his body needs, he hasn’t lost his incredible, truly ineffable spark, which is, much more than his physical prowess, what made him a force of nature.
Monk has enriched the lives of every single person he has ever encountered, especially mine. While I know that there will be a morning, a first morning, when I walk out the door alone, I do not dwell on it, nor do I dread its coming. Monk is here now. You can see him there, sitting still in the woods, attentive to the world, attentive to being, radiating a universe of energy, and that is all that matters.