Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mikki's Love


She has been my friend. For twelve years.

For twelve years I took her for granted. Thinking she would be around today, tomorrow and next year. But I have learned that nothing is forever. And that the worst thing you can do is to not appreciate those you love.

You see, this awakening, this realization comes from recently discovering that Mikki is dying.

Mikki is my tri-color australian shepherd/golden retriever dog. In these, her last remaining days, she has been "speaking" to me. Imparting cherished and important truths. Mikki my friend, my dog, has been teaching me. You might say, making sure I learn something from her. Now, it is important to note here, Mikki is a gentle, intelligent, compassionate, devoted, loving companion with a somewhat sly, yet innocent, sense of humor.

Example: she is having trouble walking but when she really wants to, she can jump up on the back of the sofa in order to see the mailman and bark wildly, for sure incessantly, at him (which has been a favorite pastime during the entire course of her life!). When she sees me looking at her in surprise, she jumps back off, slinks with a limp to the rug, lays down with a sigh, looks pitiful and sad, appearing to say "What? That wasn't me. That musta been a short-term miracle cuz I can barely walk! In fact, I'm so weak, I think I need some more of that salami and cheese."

While Mikki is still with me, which will not be for long now, I will enjoy her, spoiling her rotten with love, food and furniture rights. She is unabashedly and certainly soaking up this pampering with all she's got! Almost smiling as she reclines on the leather furniture :) I will mourn later.

This leads me to the important life lessons I think she wants me to know and remember.

If you knew your life was almost over, how would you spend the time you have left? Here is what Mikki says:
  • Eat anything you want like lots of salami, cheese, canned food and cat poop.
  • It is okay to spit out your medicine if you don't like the taste.
  • Spend as much time as you wish laying around on the sofa, the leather one. Oh, the bed, too.
  • Sleep until you get to eat again or until you have to go outside to the bathroom and then do it on the patio of you can't make it to the garden.
  • Let everyone else clean up after you.
  • Speak your mind to mailmen, UPS drivers, young whippersnapper puppies, squirrels or anyone else who catches your attention.
  • Don't let anyone make you take a bath, whine, they will give up. (okay, forget this one, they will give you a bath ANYWAY, don't fight it, it gets over with faster)
  • Lick other's ears. Like your sister's. Alot.
  • Pass gas when you want, they will just pat your head and say in that baby voice "Isn't that cute?!"
  • Look appealing so everyone who walks by has to stop and rub their hands all over you (feel you up).
  • Use any and all looks to get whatever you want.
  • Drink until it is running out the other end.
  • If you don't feel so hot, you don't have to exercise.
  • That although someone might be physically gone, the memories never go away.

And most importantly . . .

  • Accept love and give love completely, unconditionally, never taking each other for granted for in the blink of an eye the one you love could be gone.

If it is one thing Mikki has done exceptionally well, it has been loving me without conditions, even when I took her for granted.

I am going to spend my time . . . loving. No matter how long I have.

Can "simple" animals teach us humans something valuable? I think they can.

If you had little time left . . . how would you spend it?


Garden Wise Guy said...

That a lovely and heartfelt essay. I'm the proud newish owner of a young, eager, dumb as a rock cocker spaniel. Someday his time will come - that's the contract we make with pets we know have short lives. Perhaps we intentionally choose this situation for those inevitable learning moments.

Biff the Wonder Spaniel (as he's known in my on-line columns) had a close call the other day, falling out of my son's arms and "having his clock cleaned" when he smacked his head on the couch. Two days later, he's fine. But the same scenario you're actually living out ran through my head a hundred times that night.

It hurts, but hopefully only the good memories linger over time.

Garden Wise Guy said...

Billy’s Moroccan Stew
1-2 yellow onions, rough chop (sauté until translucent)
Add 1 medium size butternut squash (3 lb) peeled, ¾” cubes, and 2 big carrots, slice in thick rounds
Cook until slightly softened
Then add the rest:
1 can stewed tomatoes (unless you’re up to scorching off the skins of real tomatoes and chopping them)
¾ - 1 cup rough chopped prunes
1 can garbanzos (14 oz) drained
1 cup water or veg broth

Spices – adjust to taste: 1 tbs. Cumin; 1 tbs. Cinnamon; 2 tsp tumeric; 2 tsp coriander; white pepper, salt

Cook about 20 more minutes, serve over couscous and toss a handful of shelled pistachio nuts on each plate – Mmmmmm good

I serve it with warm whole wheat flat bread or pita – sop it up!

kate smudges said...

Three years ago, my 17-yr-old cat Hazel died. In her last few months, I learned many of the same things you write about. It has made me thoroughly enjoy each day with my brown lab, Lytton, who is now 8.
He regularly teaches me new things ~

Enjoy these moments with Mikki. Thankfully, we never forget them ...

Kate Frank said...

Aw... this really was a sweet essay. We lost a dog this year, it was like losing a family member. My mom said the same thing when she lost her dog.

Laura Livengood Schaub said...

Hugging my kitties now, thank you Steph...

Naomi Sachs, ASLA said...

Beautiful. We lost Jack at 16.5 years a couple of years ago. We kept hoping that he would "go gentle into that good night," but he did not. It was a very, very hard decision to make. I'm sure that you two will enjoy each others' company until then, and I hope that she goes peacefully when she does. Thanks for your sweet thoughts; this post was a great way to wake up this morning.

Garden Chick said...

Thank you Naomi and Laura. She was not a dog, she was a "people". She was an amazing friend and I miss her terribly to this day.