By Mikko McPuppers (Guest columnist and best bud for B. Lynn Goodwin).
One day six years ago, I saw a woman sitting alone on the steps of the porch. She watched the other dogs lunge and play. We were all there to be adopted, and the others ignored her, but I saw potential.
When she wasn’t looking, I moved to the doormat behind her. It was a great place to watch… until she turned around.
Of course I looked away. That’s what you do when you’re a senior shih tzu and a person makes eye contact. Before I turned, though, I saw the oddest mixture of love and fear on her face. Maybe she’d never had a dog before.
When she turned back to talk to my foster mom, I crept closer. She looked. I looked away.
She put her hand out to pet me. It landed on my slobbery chin. “Yuck,” she said, pulling away. I like a person who isn’t clingy.
Later, she fastened my leash, and we walked away from the yipping, charging dogs. I liked strolling with her. I didn’t tug or stop to sniff. I didn’t mess the sidewalk.
When I heard her say, “This is easy,” I knew I’d found the perfect person to take me home. She’d be easy to train.
My beloved Mikko McPuppers, the world’s best senior shih tzu, wrote this column fourteen months ago. He’d been invited to write a column for a Petfinder newsletter headquartered in Nashville, TN. He wanted to introduce himself to his new audience.
I transcribe for him. He refuses to touch the Titanium Box with the black keys. The Titanium Box steals too much of my time and attention. It is his arch-nemesis. It is the Bluto to his Popeye.
Mikko and I “talk” about his next column while we walk. I nudge him to meet his deadline. I tell him he must be responsible. He usually looks away. I imagine he’s thinking, “It’s my column, Mommy. Let me do it myself.”
Nevertheless, we pick a topic or two. I tell him to get his thoughts together, knowing he’ll do it when the time is right. He’s very proud of his by-line.
Talking with Mikko calms my mind. I join him on his simple, serene level. The same thing happens when I read his column. I find it easy to write in his voice. All the gray areas of my life disappear. Mikko tells it like it is, and when I’m in his head, so do I.
He lives in a clear-cut, anxiety-free world. When he sees me stressing, he has one simple solution: Take that woman for a walk. Over the past six years, I’ve been surprised at how easily his walks shed my stress and slow my spinning mind. He’s a good dog, and he wants to please me.
One Sunday morning in early February of this year, Mikko stumbled out of the bedroom. He walked into walls and lurched like a drunk. I took him to the vet, who decided he’d had a minor stroke. He still walks unevenly, and some of his stubborn, fighting spirit has mellowed. He’s less aloof and wants affection. I pick him up to lift him into the car, and sometimes I hold him in my lap as if he were my baby.
Although we still walk with a leash, it’s no longer necessary. He’s not about to leave the person who opens dog food cans and cleans up his little “presents.” He knows he’s special. Not every dog is a columnist, and not every dog has his own last name.
Mikko McPuppers gives me unconditional love, and I will always be grateful for the ways he’s opened my heart.
Your Turn! Tell me about your favorite pet. What made/makes him or her special? Upload a picture if you can. You can write to me here, or write to me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.