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childhood dogs

What My Dog Taught Me.

It’s truly miraculous how many people don’t want to be your  friend when you’re just a dog.  I mean seriously.  When I posted my bestest New Years Eva picture,  me in a gold dress with a lil cleavage,  I suddenly had many, many new friend requests; people I know without a doubt, didn’t know me from UP.  37 in one week to be exact.

When I changed my profile pick to my dog, Mopsy, the requests suddenly stopped.  HMMMMMM…

This is not the first time my dog Mopsy has taught me a valuable lesson….

Mopsy was nothing more than an abandoned mutt. My mother found her when I was about seven years old tied to the front door of the humane society. There was no note. No explanation. And nobody coming back to get her. At first glance this was nothing new.  It was a no kill shelter which made things very hectic and cramped. Dogs were constantly being dropped off anonymously. My mother volunteered on Saturdays and most times, I joined her. I played with puppies, nursed back sick kittens and held my nose profusely when I was forced to walk through the ‘dog room.’

Upon first meeting Mopsy, every one wondered aloud, “How could anybody give this adorable, silky long-haired puppy away?  She is absolutely precious!!” One black ear always laid flat to the side of her head, the other, which was white, always stood straight in the air. Her milky white fur was long and thick and her tail curled over her black fanny.

When my momma went to pick her up and bring her inside, she instantly figured out the reason why nobody in the world wanted Mopsy.

The. Dog. Was. Mean. As. Hell.

Nobody and I mean nobody could pet, pick up, or really, go near this dog.  And seriously, nobody wanted to.  This dog was totally hateful – even to the other animals at the shelter. My momma always had a special bond with broken dogs, she was a true blue dog whisperer.  Growing up, it was nothing for us to see an injured dog on the side of the road and either take it to the vet or nurse it back to health at home.  It didn’t really surprise me that she somehow made friends with this particular dog. One week after she was abandoned, Mopsy was brought home to live with us.

Most did not share any affection whatsoever for this dog.  Why? She bit.  She barked. Endlessly. She growled,  snarled and bared every single tooth in her head should one even attempt to approach her.  I believe the words ‘Fruits of the devil’ and ‘Satan’s spawn pup’ were recently used to describe this very dog. Consequently, Our yard man quit.  We were sued twice by the neighbor two doors down because she ‘attacked’ them. Mailmen began carrying very large sticks and mace.  She made my friends cry and plead with their mothers to pick them up early when they would visit.  My little brother, George, learned how to run very fast to avoid the wrath of Mopsy.

I, on the other hand, absolutely adored her.

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Nobody besides my mother and I were ever allowed to touch her.  Hold her.  Be within two feet of her.  Momma used to say that it was probably because she was beaten when she was little.  “Its a survival tactic.” My mother would tell me.  “She’s been hurt and she’s trying to protect herself.”

FYI: Mopsy never did cozy up to anyone else in the family.

I can’t remember why exactly, but for some reason Mopsy instantly liked loved me. Perhaps it was because I didn’t mind slipping her meatloaf remnants under the table when my mother wasn’t looking.  Maybe it was because I taught her to sit up and pray, her lil paws clasped tightly together.  Perhaps she appreciated the fact that I was the only one willing to wash her and blow her long mane dry and promptly plop her into my bed.  On the nights I couldn’t sleep, it was Mopsy who sat up with me, listening intently as I told all her all my deepest secrets. Sometimes we ate crackers in bed, probably sharing  the same water glass, Mopsy rolling around my bed, playing and pretend sneezing. Me scratching her pink freckled tummy and promising her: You are finally safe. Mopsy didn’t mind our long discussions of friends who had hurt my feelings the previous day at school.  I didn’t mind the tedious work of picking the fleas from her thick coat.  One by one, I’d smoosh those menaces  together, in hopes those terrible fleas would never return.

FYI: Mean friends and mean fleas always return. it’s just a burden we bear to be alive.

Perhaps my dog adored me and no one else because I didn’t fuss when she would leave unwanted presents on my mothers fine oriental rugs nor would I fuss when she would eat my friends underwear and snarl at them when they would enter my room.  “It’s ya own fault, I would holler at my friends.  You shouldn’t have left your bathing suit on the floor, you know my dog is quick!!”

Maybe Mopsy  loved me because I made her feel a like lil movie star as I propped her on my pink butterfly bike for a long afternoon ride. Somehow she propped her paws on the cross-bar and together, we soared through my neighborhood – Mopsy balancing herself, never once falling off.

We must have looked like the biggest buffoons.  I totally get that.

But at the time, we thought nothing of it –  We were having delightful fun! We furiously waved as people would slow their cars and roll down their windows saying things like “Is like…that dog tied to your bike?  How is she staying there?” I’m sure when they rolled up their windows nd drove off, they looked at the person sitting next to them and said “What.  A.  Freak!!”

It was all fun and good times until Mopsy would get her long furry tail caught in the spokes of my bike. This proved to be a most unpleasant predicament. Without a cell phone and usually several streets from home, it proved quite the challenge to flag down fellow passersby and say “Yo! could you please call my momma, my dog’s tail is stuck in the spokes again!”

Horrified, the driver usually knew us or knew of us and my mother was summed at once and would arrive with her black pair of sewing scissors. Five minutes later, Mopsy was cut free and we were back on the asphalt streets, making our rounds.

Mopsy has been long gone but she has never, ever left my heart. If you know me at all, you would know that I beat to my own tune: I wear my hair big with four different kinds of hair sprays. My ear rings are even bigger.  Every room in my house is painted a different and mostly – a bright color. I absolutely adore wallpaper and if you stand next to me for any length of time, beware: I may try to wallpaper you as well.  I wear red lipstick.  Or hot pink. Frosted if the spirit moves me. Those close to me call me their friend who never left the 80’s.  I could give two rips.  It’s just who I am. Now with this being said, years later, my perspectives may have changed a bit:

  • I’m not sure I would be tolerant of my puppy piddling on oriental rug.
  • The thought of picking and popping fleas makes me instantly nauseated.  I cannot believe I did that…
  • And sharing my water glass and bed with my dog….not so much.
BUT:
  • Sharing my bike with my puppy dog, no matter how utterly ridiculous I may look? Absolutely!

Mopsy taught me early on in life that just because something is beautiful on the outside does not mean that they are not an absolute mess on the inside. Maybe the reason she chose to love me is because she knew that I needed her just as much as she needed me. Sometimes we are hurt.  Broken.  And afraid.  We all need to be loved unconditionally. Fleas and snarling teeth included.

I pray I always have the courage to be who I want to be, to hop on that pink butterfly bike with my nearest and dearest and venture out. Shouldn’t we all? If not, when did we suddenly become afraid to be who we really were?  Afraid of what people would say or mock us?  Where did that COURAGE as a child come from? Or maybe, it was nativity?  Which ever word we choose to use, I want more of it.

Never ever quit the journey of you.  Even if it involves making a buffoon outta yourself.

Life is short.  Live it.

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