In 1999, my daughter, a third grader at the time, wanted a puppy for Christmas. Online research wasn’t as sophisticated 20 years ago as it is now, so I spoke to friends, looked through books and magazines, and watched as people walked their dogs.
One afternoon in early December I decided to stop at the pet store on my way home from work. I was really looking for different breeds for reference. Never would I have considered purchasing a pet shop dog. So many horror stories…costly vet bills, sickly, lack of social skills, and God forbid…shorter lives.
I walked to the back of the store and looked through the glass at the many different puppies. There before me was the most adorable West Highland Terrier - otherwise known as a Westie – starring me down. My next mistake was allowing them to take her out of the crate for me. I swear they must train those puppies how to warm hearts. I held her and was quickly covered in kisses. But that wasn’t the sign for me. I sat her down and she grabbed my purse strap and tried to pull it through the store. As if to say, “come on, let’s go home.” Needless to say I fell madly in love. So, I did what I don’t usually do. I bought her!
We gave Katie an early Christmas present that year and thinking she was going to show the excitement of a third grader – the opposite happened. She was scared to death of her new puppy! Katie would run through the house screaming and jump up on the sofa. Being a nine week old, Muffin, as we had named her, could not quite make the jump. It wouldn’t take her long and soon the fear was gone.
Muffin easily became a part of our family. At full weight she reached 17 pounds in her little stocky frame. Everyone fell in love with her and she fit right in to our socially active family. Parties were her favorite, especially patio parties with lots of guests. She knew how to work the crowd and always got love and nibbles from everyone. She was an avid TV watcher. She would sit for 30 minutes and watch the shows with other animals. But her favorite was the Fancy Feast commercial with Etta James belting out, “At Last.” Wherever she was she would come running to the TV to see that big, beautiful, fluffy cat.
Brunch on the patio was the best and always her favorite thing. She preferred or maybe I should say, DEMANDED, to sit at the table with us. She looked so young, so I encouraged her to follow in my footsteps and lie about her age. So she did! Even when she was in her teens, she never looked or acted a day over seven. Muffy was an active girl up until about sixteen. At that time she still had her sweet little disposition, although at that same time she could no longer hear nor see. In all her years she never had accidents in the house until then. She started wearing doggie diapers and that worked for almost a year.
In July of 2016, sweet little Muffin passed away on her bed. At almost seventeen, she had very few vet trips for sickness. Only spa days for oatmeal baths that helped with dry skin caused by Michigan’s icy cold winters. She was the smartest, gentlest, and most even tempered and loving dog I’ve ever had or been around. I still miss her every day.
Note: This was 20 years ago. I would never purchase another pet from a store. I currently have a 90 pound senior girl that my father in law had adopted six years ago. When he passed away three years ago, my husband drove to Virginia to pick her up to come live with us in Michigan. We also have a 15 year old rescue kitty. We support adoption. With Muffin, we got very, very lucky. ❤
Dana Kingrey is a writer living in Michigan.