We have a dog, who is actually more than just a pet. He’s the baby of our family, the very apple of his daddy’s eye, and is more spoiled than any of our other children, who were born without fur, ever were.
Our baby is a member of the hybrid breed known as Morkie. He’s a cross between a Maltese and a Yorkie, and he turned four years old this past Christmas Day. He weighs all of seven and a half pounds. We became his forever family when he was eight weeks old. My beloved fell in love with him from a photo my daughter brought over that she’d printed from the internet, from a site here in Canada called Kijiji (which is comparable to Craig’s List).
Three months prior, we’d lost our beloved dog, Rochie (short for ferocious, which he never was), a ninety-pound lab-cross. Rochie was eleven. He’d suffered a stroke overnight, and the only humane thing to do was relieve his suffering, as he couldn’t walk and seemed completely confused and disoriented. David really loved Rochie, his best friend who he’d raised from a pup that had belonged to one of our grandsons. In the months following his loss, David seemed a little subdued. Our daughter informed me her father was lonely when I returned, in early February of that year, from a week away. She told me, admonished me, really, that Daddy must have another dog. I was unconvinced. This led to her bringing that picture and showing her daddy, and asking him if he would like to have “this cute little puppy”. And her daddy, who had previously admonished me in no uncertain terms that there would be no more pets in the Ashbury household? Yeah, he caved like a house of cards.
For the doggie daddy, it was love at first sight. David really wanted the dog, and I’m not one to say no when my beloved wants something. Mr. Tuffy represents a couple of notable firsts for our family. He’s the first dog for which we paid money—and a lot of money, at that. He’s also the first small dog we’ve ever owned.
When he arrived here, we both fell in love with him. He was his daddy’s baby first and foremost, and while it had been agreed that the puppy would sleep in his crate (which was actually a baby’s play pen) beside the bed each night, almost right from the beginning, and unbeknownst to me at the time, David snuck him into the bed with us.
Yeah, that whole pretense of using the playpen only lasted until that day a couple of months later, in May when our daughter arrived to babysit him while we went to a writer’s event in the U.S.
Mr. Tuffy has earned his place as a beloved member of the family. He is, in reality, at the center of life here in the Ashbury household. He will eat dog kibble, but only as a side dish. Otherwise, his diet consists of chicken, pork, beef, liver—and even lamb. Hamburger, not so much. I shouldn’t say even lamb, because it is one of his favorites. Mr. Tuffy has a wardrobe filled with sweaters and jackets. He actually has more sweaters than I do. He has a box of toys in the living room. He sleeps on our bed at night, as I said, and during the day, one may often find him perched on my desk, between my tower and my monitor.
He also has his own “bed”, of course, and that is on the floor beside my desk—his second favorite daytime resting place. In this bed is a “blanket”, and several bones. He loves his bones. We refer to his bed as his bone-bed, and he’s in it for at least one nap every day—unless, of course, the cat decides she wants the bed, instead.
The cat has a habit of stealing his sleeping spots and has stolen every one except for the one which is our bed. On the rare occasions that the cat demands to sleep on the bed at night, her preferred (and only) spot is just above my pillow making it easy for me, her servant, to slip a hand under her and one on top of her as I try to go to sleep—and for her to bat me with her paw if I don’t.
Mr. Tuffy also has issues, the main one being extreme separation anxiety. This has been an issue that developed gradually and unexpectedly when he was about two, and has been ongoing. The vet has said we could medicate him, but neither of us has any desire to do that. Instead, we do what families do when one of their members develops “issues”. We simply cope.
Mr. Tuffy is no longer left alone, ever. If we have to go out to a place where he cannot come, we take him to the one other place in this world where he will feel ok—our daughter’s house. She has Chihuahuas who have been his buddies since day one. And, considering the role she played in making sure we had Mr. Tuffy as her baby brother in the first place, it’s only fitting her house is plan B for us and for him.
I’ve known people in my lifetime who would have considered this kind of a problem to be a deal-breaker. I’ve known people who’ve decided after the fact that pets weren’t really for them, and have removed them from their families. But that’s not us. We take our obligations seriously. In our view, once you adopt a pet, that pet is yours—in much the same way that a baby born to you or adopted by you is yours—forever.
So yes, this is Mr. Tuffy’s forever home, and we will likely continue to spoil him, and deal with any future issues he may develop which, really, is no chore for us at all.
Giving in love, whether to a pet, a person, or a purpose is one of life’s greatest callings and purest joys.