Copyright 2006 by James Bassett
A"Mugsy" was an older, restful Shih Tzu that had spent nine years sitting by her owner's side. And, I think her owner also sat by "Mugsy's" side. By this I mean the owner sat near after carefully preparing "Mugsy's" kibbled dinner. She would place "Mugsy's" dish near the kitchen table where she would sit and talk to "Mugsy" as she ate.
She talked to "Mugsy" about her small window box garden and read "Mugsy" letters she received from her children about their growing families. "Mugsy's" owner was widowed ten years today, and "Mugsy" had been told of every wonderful day spent together several times. "Mugsy" knew of their first meeting, of the many long walks, of the doting over the children, and of the quiet, virtually unnoticeable, passing over an evening's bowl of softening chocolate ice cream.
"Mugsy" had finished her meal long ago. She had curled near the woman's feet, only raising her head to carefully watch the woman lift the dish to the sink. Soon, after a few more memories, the radio would be played low and the evening would be quiet. "Mugsy" and the woman would sit together by a single reading light in the study. "Mugsy" would lift her head each time the woman would read her a passage or two out loud.
We wondered long over "Mugsy" when she was in the shelter. She wasn't agitated, hopeful to recognize an old face; she didn't beg for attention. "Mugsy" knew the woman was gone. She had lain by her side until the children arrived. We sat in the kennel and wondered as "Mugsy" curled up in the kennel corner. We worried because she was nine years old and mutedly attentive. "Mugsy" wasn't the kind of dog that attracted the boisterous fanfare adoption celebrated by many bouncing dogs and children every day. This adoption was all but anonymous.
No one spoke with the woman who seemed content to stand at the cages one by one. No one remembered that she had sat in front of the cage for about forty-five minutes just thinking while "Mugsy" rested, curled in a corner. There were no fingers in the cage, clapping, or calling to "Mugsy" for attention. There was no holding, hugging, or intimacy test. The woman thought. And when the lobby cleared of commotion, the woman spoke with the adoption personnel. She understood when we had little information about "Mugsy" because her owner had died and was placed with us by the owner's children.
Finally, there was the slightest of the expected squeal, the faintest relief. The groomer the woman had chosen to take ?Mugsy? to the next day whispered, "Oh, 'Mugsy'", whose head lifted and then fit familiarly into the groomer's shoulder as she waved her long tail and that long tail hair slowly. This was her same groomer nine years.
The woman sat close to "Mugsy" while the groomer bathed and brushed and talked to "Mugsy". The woman told the groomer how "Mugsy" would lift her head at her occasionally as they sat reading in the evening and was told, "Yes, she would certainly do that," and why.
And "Mugsy" became for everyone a
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