I used to be Missy’s Mom. Yes, I did use the word in past tense. For many years, I referred to myself as “Mom” to my pet Papillon, 12-1/2 years in fact. I did not think it strange to see it that way, as my children are all grown; and when we think of it – our pets are like our children in many ways.
From the time that we brought her home at 9 weeks (and she could fit into the palm of our hand), she was our “little girl”. She quickly grabbed hold of our hearts, and took over the household! As many pet “parents” will agree – our pets live for us; and that described Missy to a “t”. She knew when it was a work day, and when we had the day off (I’m not quite sure how she could tell). She comforted us when we were not feeling well, and when we argued she would bark – most likely to tell us to quit arguing!
Missy had a bossiness that was endearing to us, and most likely irritating to others. She loved to beg for freshly cooked popcorn, but only wanted the buttered pieces. She begged for food at dinner by putting her little snout up in the air to bark/howl. Needless to say, when we had company over, she had to be secured in her crate or our dinner party guests would get perturbed.
Missy was a totally spoiled dog! Her collection of gadgets ranged from a car seat fitted just for her, a life jacket for riding on the jet ski (and later the boat), a basket to ride on the front of my bicycle – and later a specially ordered trailer for longer bicycle rides. Fancy harnesses, color-coordinated leashes, holiday costumes, winter coats, and daytime dresses completed her wardrobe.
Her favorite daytime perch was to command a living room chair and watch out the window until we came home. As she grew older, her eyesight dimming with cataracts, she preferred her corner dog bed or the cushy couch. She would never bark when guests arrived, but she barked when they left – we always thought she didn’t want them to go.
In experiencing her passing, I have to say that her death affected me in a very profound way. During the year after she left us, every morning I would feel the loss of her because I no longer had to visit the backyard, rain or shine while she went out to potty. In the afternoons, I would experience the loss of her because her smiling face wasn't there to greet me when I returned home from work. Every evening I experienced the loss of her because no longer had a small ball of fur curled at my feet on our bed.
We lived our lives with the knowledge that one day she would leave us, but we had no knowledge that April 26, 2014 would be the last day she would spend with us. If I had known, I would have held her longer, that day and every day up until then. I originally wrote this post during my tenure of writing a monthly column for The Spectrum/Writer's Group in St. George, Utah. As I share it with you today, 6 years after her passing, thinking of Missy and her sweet ways still brings a tear to my eye. I do believe that we will eventually bring another furry child into our family; but there will never be another Missy - she was a one-of-a-kind friend that left her paw-print on my heart. In the scope of my years on earth, her 12-1/2 years were just a small part of my life. But her 12-1/2 years with me were the whole part of her life to her. I hope that we will always remember that when we love our furry family - they may be just a part of our world, but to them - we are their whole world.
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