My parents’ dog, Shih Tzu Magic, passed away. He was 14.
He was also my parents’ favorite kid. Poochie and I know where we stand.
Shih Tzu Magic’s real name was Kirby. He was black, and we initially called him Darth. But then cooler heads prevailed and he was named after Poochie’s favorite baseball player.
Kirby hated my guts.
I’m not kidding. He thought I was pretty OK until the day I showed up with the Not-So-Geriatric-Then Poodle. And Kirby took one look at that skinny, trembling rescue dog, then looked at me with utter disgust. Didn’t I know that he hates dogs? Didn’t I?
Kirby wasn’t a dog. He fancied himself a cat. And whenever I showed up at my parents’ house, Kirby would look at me with disdain, then – and I am not making this up – immediately look behind me to see what canine losers I had en tow. If I had traveled alone, Kirby would, by maybe the second day of my visit, allow me to pet him. If I had traveled with my dogs, Kirby would bark at them and blatantly ignore me. The best day of Kirby’s life was every time I packed up my shit – my dogs included – and left his house.
Ours was a complex relationship.
But my heart hurts, and I’m so, so grateful for that bossy little black dog.
Reason Number One Why I Like a Dog Who Hated My Guts
When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, Kirby was the best nurse ever. He watched her so carefully and totally changed how he interacted with her. Kirby would watch my mom get situated, then very gingerly approach her and cuddle up next to her, careful not to come near her surgical wounds. He was so gentle, but he knew his presence was needed. And it was.
Reason Number Two Why I Like a Dog Who Hated My Guts
Kirby hated suitcases. Hated. Them. And he’d get all insolent whenever a suitcase came out. Somehow, this little Ewok-looking creature perfected one single look that managed to say, “You’re leaving. You’re leaving without me. You’re going somewhere and you’re leaving me here. You didn’t even ask if I wanted to go. You suck. I hate you. And your suitcase is ugly and so are you,” all in one, brief glance.
He could be a bit judgmental.
So, Kirby lost his mind when Poochie pulled a gigantic suitcase out of the basement in preparation for a semester abroad. As much as Kirby hated me, he loooooved Poochie. This might have something to do with the fact that Poochie let Kirby lick up his nose. I’m not sure.
Anyway, Kirby was so distraught that Poochie made a huge show of putting the suitcase away. “Oh, I changed my mind!” he announced. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to put this stupid suitcase away!”
Kirby was satisfied. And he was outside when Poochie snuck the suitcase back upstairs – under the cover a blanket – and hid it under his bed.
Now, this story alone is worth loving that little black dog. But here’s the kicker.
As we were gathered around my grandma’s hospital bed a few days after the suitcase incident, Poochie told that story to my grandpa. Poochie’s a really good storyteller. And my grandpa laughed his big, full laugh the changed the air pressure in any room. And then all the machines started beeping and a few minutes later, my grandma was gone. But I know in my heart of hearts that the last thing she heard was her sweetheart’s big laugh. And she knew everything was going to be OK, and that it was OK to go.
And that’s why I love that stupid dog who would gladly pee on my head if given the opportunity*.
Rest in peace, our little Ewok.
*Also? He refused to take a dump in his own yard. I admire that kind of style.