DRESSING THE DOG
Chapter 1 (Part One)
“I don’t know where we come from, and I don’t know where we go.
But my arms were made to hold you, so I will never let you go. Cuz you were born…”
– Cloud Cult (You Were Born)
I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a story about a little dog… an extraordinary little dog, who did extraordinary little things. It’s a story about ME, Millie LaRue… an extraordinary little Yorkshire Terrier. Some people believe that our lives are already decided for us… that everything is fated to happen… we are just living it all out. I’m not so sure. There were lots of times I made the decision to turn left or right… to sit or stay…to sleep or get up. Were my choices already pre-destined… or at those times, did I control my own future? I think we take what we are given, and make a life out of it. If you had told me that I would end up here, from where I started, I would never have believed it. How did this even happen? To me? A little dog? You know how you sometimes wonder how your life would be different if you had gone for your walk just 5 minutes sooner… or if you hadn’t stopped to smell the dead squirrel for that extra 10 seconds? Well, that’s what happened to me, when years ago, Mummy and Daddy made the decision to buy me instead of one of two other Yorkies. WHEW! Lucky little me. I still can’t believe it myself. To tell this the way it needs to be told I need to start at the beginning… but how do I follow this life-thread of mine all the way back to where it began? It’s hard to find the REAL BEGINNING of something. Everything touches something else. But I think I need to start before I was even born… with Bella.
I’ve heard the story about my sister Bella many times, mainly because every time I travel anywhere with Mummy she carries a little framed picture of Bella with her, and she will hold me close in her arms, cradling me like a real baby, and say to me, “Millie, if it wasn’t for little Bella, I wouldn’t have you! What do you think you would be doing right now if you weren’t mine?” Now honestly… how can I know that? I just blink, and look back at her, and she always cries… then she covers me in little puppy kisses. So yes, I certainly know the story of Bella and it sort-of makes ME cry, too.
The story began many years ago, on Mummy’s birthday. It was a chilly, rainy winter so Mummy and Daddy decided on the spur of the moment to drive down to Miami, Florida for some sun. Their little doggie clan, the “Yorkshire terrorists,” were left in the hands of my two human brothers. They would take turns staying at the house and keep an eye on everything. On their first morning away, Mummy and Daddy were having a gourmet, pool-side breakfast, just reading the paper and planning their day, when Mummy ran across the “classifieds” and saw some Yorkie puppies for sale. If I had been there with her at the time, even I could have told you that before the weekend was over, the family would be ONE YORKIE BIGGER! Daddy saw a “look” on Mummy’s face and asked what her concentrated expression was all about, so she showed him the Yorkie ads. NO! That was his reply. He said there were already 3 Yorkies at home: Bebe, Elvis and Sophie… and they didn’t need another one. Mummy took the paper back, folded it up and pulled her straw hat down over her eyes. Ohhhhh, Daddy should have known then it was already over… he was gonna lose this one. For the next hour his questions were answered with one-word responses: yes, no, maybe, whatever. “I just thought you would want to get me something REALLY SPECIAL for my birthday tomorrow.” That’s what Mummy said… real soft-like… with her eyes still closed and her hat still pulled down over her eyes. “That’s all.” Daddy let out a groan and then laughed.
The story about Bella is short and long at the same time. Mummy DID convince Daddy to get her a puppy for her birthday. They spent two days looking at every single listing in that paper, but Mummy said she just didn’t see what she wanted. OH SURE, all puppies are adorable, but she would know the right one when she saw it. When the time came to head back home, they still hadn’t found a puppy. Now Daddy, who hadn’t wanted to buy a puppy in the first place, was upset because this was going to be his birthday present to Mummy. The day they were driving back was Mummy’s ACTUAL BIRTHDAY and he wanted to find a puppy on THAT DAY. When they were 3 hours from home, they stopped in Jacksonville, Florida to fill up with gas and Daddy bought a local newspaper. It was getting late and Mummy really wanted to get home… but there were two ads for puppies so Daddy called one of them. The people said, “SURE, come on by… we have one puppy. She is a tiny little thing and you’ll just fall in love with her!!!” And sure enough, Mummy fell in love right away. She was very tiny, barely 1 pound. The “breeder” said that she was eating pretty good but just give her some baby food if they had any problems getting her to eat. THAT should have been the first sign of trouble. There were actually signs everywhere…big red danger signs, but Mummy only saw that sweet little puppy. Ohhhhh man, she learned so much from that experience, but it’s all hindsight now. A lot of pain. A lot of tears. A lot of money. A lot of pain… oh I said that already, well that’s because there was a LOT OF PAIN!!! She named the puppy Bella on the drive home.
The next morning, Bella wouldn’t eat. She wouldn’t drink either. In fact, Bella NEVER took one single lap of water or bite of food on her own for her entire life, which wasn’t very long. Mummy called the “breeder” the next day and let him know that there was a problem. He told her that the puppy was just “getting used to her new home” and just give her a chance to settle into her surroundings. He said that he would “pray” for Bella. Mummy and Daddy took Bella to the vet for her health check-up and he said she was REALLY TINY!!! They told him she was not eating and he instructed them to continue with the syringe feedings like they had been doing. Day two brought more of the same. Honestly, it was worse than a human baby at this point!!! She couldn’t keep herself warm so they had to keep her on a heating pad or walk around with her inside their shirt, snuggled up against their own skin for warmth. –SIGH- In the hopes of uncovering any past issues, Mummy called the “breeder” again but the call went unanswered… in fact, he refused to answer all further calls. They were on their own.
Every other day Mummy was back at the vet but they couldn’t find anything wrong. Bella just wasn’t getting any better. Finally, in frustration, Mummy told the vet she wanted a full-body x-ray done, and BAM… there it was. Her little body was filling up with fluids for some unknown reason. An ultrasound was needed to see if she had a genetic liver shunt and the closest facility with a machine was 3-hours away, so Mummy bundled up Bella and made the trip. Sadly, Bella was just too tiny for a shunt to show up on the machine and Mummy was told to bring her back when she weighed about three pounds and they could try again. THREE POUNDS!!! After one month, she still only weighed ONE POUND! Mummy started crying and told them she would never be able to get her up to 3 pounds!!! Bella died at home the next day. Mummy said that she had failed Bella. She should have been able to nurse her back to health and now she was gone. For a solid month she barely left that little puppy. She carried her around next to her heart to keep her warm, fed her every hour on the hour, and it was all for nothing. A tiny little life that came and went and Mummy was devastated. She went to bed and refused to get up, saying that she never wanted another dog, EVER AGAIN!!!
After several weeks had passed, Daddy said that he wanted to get another puppy and had found a HEALTHY litter that he was going to see, but Mummy refused to go with him. Daddy went without her and emailed her pictures of 3 fat, little puppies… 4 months old. The age that puppies SHOULD BE when a breeder sells a puppy!!! Mummy cocked her head to one side as one of the puppy pictures caught her eye. Hmmm, maybe she should have gone to see them. When Daddy got home she asked him if he would take her back the next day to see the puppies, and he did. As soon as she walked in, she saw the three puppies in their little playpen. She recognized the one that caught her eye in the email and scooped her up right away. She started to cry just a little and said, “This is the one that I want.” The breeder said that the other two girls were really cute too… maybe she should look at those just to be sure. But Mummy said, “NO, I’m sure that THIS IS THE ONE!” That little puppy was ME. And so it was, that my extraordinary life began on that day, and I would begin to do extraordinary things in the arms of someone who would love me in the most extraordinary way. On the drive home, she would name me Millie LaRue.
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