I had a happy childhood, but my very first memory of life is a painful one that marked my life from that moment on. It happened when I was three years old and my mother, dad and I were looking at a litter of puppies. Daddy worked out of town a lot then and wanted to buy me a puppy, but my mother thought I was too young.
Finally they let me pick out a puppy to hold. They kept telling me not to drop it and I wondered what the big deal was. I’d dropped stuff before. But suddenly the puppy wiggled, I dropped it and it squealed.
“I told you she was too young,” my mother insisted. I had hurt the puppy and now I couldn’t have it. I tried crying, but even that didn’t work. I was heartbroken.
My next memory (days, weeks, months later, I don’t know, I was only three) was Daddy coming home with “Guess what I have for you in my pocket.” It was the tiniest puppy in the world. A man where my dad had been working had shown them a litter of purebred Chihuahuas he was getting ready to sell. One of them looked different. She was gray with white hair underneath, but no hair on her back. She was the runt of the litter, some kind of throwback in the genetic breeding line.
“Cute little thing,” the man had said. “ But I’ll have to get rid of her before buyers come. I can’t sell her. They’ll want to know what she is and I’m not even sure.”
“I have a little girl who would really love to have her,” my dad said and the man handed her over making him promise not to say where she came from.
“Don’t be surprised if she doesn’t live long. Runts like this sometimes don’t.”
I named her Mickey after the mouse. From the beginning I treated her with gentle respect, except for that time I tried to dress her in doll clothes (she ran away and hid). Three-year-old children and tiny dogs are not usually a wise combination, but I had learned a painful lesson early in life.Mickey didn't much like anyone outside of our family. One day we came home to find my grandmother and two aunts sitting outside. The door was unlocked, but they didn't want to challenge Mickey who was barking at them most fiercely. We were concerned when my little brother was born, but she seemed to understand right away that he was a new member of her pack.
Mickey grew to be twelve pounds of sturdy, healthy dog. Not bad for a mutant runt. From the time I was three until my senior year in high school, she was my companion, confidante, my shadow and best friend. Every childhood memory that I have somehow involves Mickey.
To all the dogs I've loved before,
Who traveled in and out my door…this blog’s for you.