Goodbye, Moonpie

Published 8:09 am Saturday, May 30, 2009

Well, people, this will be the hardest report I have ever written.

On Friday little Moonpie passed away.

Moonpie has been my sidekick and faithful river companion for 16 years. We got Moonpie, I believe, in March or April of 1993 after the death of her predecessor, Pig Face.

Both dogs were great river rats — Pig Face being a better hunter and Moonpie being more of lap dog.

Moonpie was always harder to see at our campsites along the river than Pig Face, as Pig Face was solid white while, back in the day, Moonpie was about solid black.

To become a great river dog, I must admit, Moonpie took a bit of training in the early days. For instance, to get her to jump out of the boat on command, I had to devote three days to me sitting in the river with a rope attached to Moonpie in the boat that was anchored off shore. Of course eventually she grew to be a great river dog, jumping out of the boat on command and swimming in any weather condition.

I also taught her how to get out of the boat onto logs. She eventually got quite good at it and reveled in showing off the talent, sometimes climbing logs that were so steep a coon would have had a hard time.

Without a doubt, though, Moonpie is most famous for and will be best remembered for her wild antics and sharp wit in the many stories we have told over the years about our camping trips along the rivers.

She became so well-known because of those stories and through the three educational river movies she starred in that I cannot go anywhere locally that I’m not asked, “Where’s Moonpie?” by children and adults alike.

Heck, I think most people thought she was the Riverkeeper.

Maybe one day those stories can be compiled into a book about the adventures of Moonpie. Who knows?

I have so many memories of Moonpie, and there are so many things I’m going to miss about her. I’m truly going to miss little dog sitting in her seat in the back of the boat where she sat for so many years.

I’m really going to miss her and our little nighttime bonding ritual where at the end of the night as the fire was dying, she would jump in my lap and we would hold each other as it got pitch dark.

I’m going to miss her big mouth running around the campsite at night making sure all was safe after I had crawled in the sleeping bag for the night.

Every night we would camp, that night after going to bed, one of the things I always thanked God for was letting me be able to come out here and enjoy this river He has given us.

And then I always said, “Thank you especially, Lord, for letting little Moonpie be able to come out here, too, because she loves it so much, and please, dear Lord, don’t ever let that end until such time as you see fit.”

I have said that prayer hundreds of times, but now God has decided her patrol has come to an end.

Moonpie became the mascot and icon of the Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program and by doing so did her part to help protect our rivers.

Now, she is retired and lives with the river spirits, happy and no longer suffering.

Rest peacefully, little Moonpie. You deserve it.

I’m sure one day we will be together again on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.