I never expected to love her as deeply as I do. I'd only met her once before she came to live with me, and never felt much draw to small frou-frou dogs. But she belonged to my cousin, whom I loved very much, and this was one last gift I could give Anita before she died - the knowledge that Mitzi would always have a home where she would be well cared for, loved, and respected for the rest of her life.
|Mitzi as a young pup at her Mama Anita's home|
I don't think Mitzi was in my house for more than 24 hours before I was totally besotted with her.
She wasn't crazy about having fur siblings, especially not klutzy, crazy, bowl-her-over ones like Eddie. But she survived him and the others by trying to keep out of their way, staying quiet, and never picking any fights with them. She got her one-on-one time with me on our walks around town, and occasionally on hikes with friends, though sometimes she hitched a ride part way.
|Mitzi on the Crofton Sea Walk|
|Mitzi and friend Keeghan at Swallowfield|
She loved her daily walks, even when she could no longer go more than a few blocks around town. The best part of walking, according to Mitzi, was sniffing - she loved to follow smells from one place to another, in the garden, along the seawalk, in fields, around the block. Her nose was always leading the way - sometimes doubling back if she lost the trail.
When she became the only dog in the house, after the others had passed away, her true spirit came out and I began to see the impish, playful, funny girl my cousin had so often told me about. She chased me around the house, barked at me, puttered in the yard with me, accompanied me on vacations and horse-sitting jaunts. In fact, she soon showed me that she especially loved being a farm girl, spending hours wandering the fields, checking out all the great smells.
|The Li'l Cowpoke|
Despite being a farm girl at heart, she also loved going to the groomers - a cowgirl luxuriating in a good massage and a pedicure. Whenever her fur became dirty, she sulked - becoming sulkier and sulkier until that magic day when we headed to her groomer for her monthly spa day. She returned a happy, lively, beautiful Princess.
She wasn't one for getting dressed up, despite being a princess, but she tolerated the occasional outfits I produced - hats and dresses and hallowe'en costumes, and came to love her red sweater which she wore constantly these past few months.
She struggled with her health for the past two years, as kidney failure took its toll and left her without appetite. But a few days rest and a little medicine, and she would bounce back and once again run in the door from our walk, race down the hall, flip herself around and play bow to me, with a loud bark that declared "play with me, Mama Jean, play with me". And the game would be on - around and around and around the house we would go, first one way and then the other - tiny eight pound Mitzi chasing me, and me chasing her, each hiding around corners and jumping out at the other, until she eventually stopped, panting, and headed for the water dish.
|Mama, play wiv me!|
|Ha! Dat waz FUN!|
|Ahm tired, Mama Jean, ahm very tired|
I knew yesterday it was time. It was in her eyes, and it was in my heart, though I did not want her to go.
I knew that she could see the Bridge, could see her Mama Anita, and my sister Carole who also loved her - they were watching for her, waiting for her, arms outstretched.
|Ah think it's time for me to go now, Mama Jean.|
And this morning, surrounded with my love, she raced across that meadow to them, barking and spinning and play bowing as she went.
Run free, my most special little girl. I'll love you and miss you forever and a day.