I mourned the loss of my Tobi. Greatly so.
What is to be said?
Six years ago, in the early fall, we picked a little dog to be the Christmas gift of my wife’s mother, then, 92. I tried not to name him, but this little black and white Shih Tzu/Bichon Frieze cross, was a pickle. Quick witted runt of the litter, with a little skull of white on his black forehead. He scampered where ever his mind wandered, looking at me like a little pyramid with a head he rotated as he eyed me, reading my morning newspaper. With his antics and character he had stolen my heart by Christmas when we would fly him and my other two, Tobi and Kikko, to Montreal to give to Mother. The entire trip was taken up with me wishing she would refuse him, and, my giving her reason after reason why she should.
Tobi and Pickle kept a good distance from each other. Especially on the bed, where Tobi vigilantly preserved his status next to me. Pickle and Kikko were like brothers: same age, same vivacious temperament, full of play.
Mother kept Pickle, and, renamed him, “Pom-Pom”.
Each year, when we returned for our annual visit, Pom-pom left her bed for mine. Without contention, Tobi was on one side of me, and, Pom-pom on the other. Mother, at her age, enjoyed his companionship, but she did not tend to his needs quite as well: forgetting to feed him, he ate cat food, did not take walks, not grooming him or providing haircuts and performed his outdoor duties in the house, almost anywhere he could find. Our annual visits to Mother allowed me to walk him with the other two, and, to feed him regularly. He loved to walk, eagerly poking his nose into the leash. And, he loved to bark at other dogs. He had the Napoleon complex – small as he was, he lunged at dogs three and four times his size.
Pom-pom feared Tobi, and, Tobi was very covetous of being my dog. It had taken Tobi over two years to accept Kikko as an acceptable member of the family, and, even then, he kept Kikko in line with an occasional attack. In the six year interval between our giving Pom-pom to Mother, and, our re-acquisition of him, Tobi and Pom-pom tolerated being in the same room, on the same walks, and eating the same food.
What impressed me on our annual visits with Mother was that Pom-pom always slept on our bed, always maintained a steady presence in any room I was in, always looked at me with big black sad eyes.
When I booked the return flights to Mother, Tobi was yet with us, and so along with our tickets we booked places for two dogs. When Tobi passed away, my wife asked if she should cancel his bookings. My response, met with an intolerable silence, was to cancel only the out going leg, as we would need the booking for our return flight.
As Mother’s health declined, some talk among my wife’s brothers and sister settled on what was to be done with Pom-pom. No one wanted him. He was an untrained dog who missed the daily newspaper, chased cats, and, barked too often. He would be put down.
It’s not often that I give myself the privilege to countermand my wife’s decisions, particularly where her family is concerned. I boldly announced to her in private that Pom-pom’s ticket was already in place and that he would be returning with us. I was subjected to the same sermon I have received on every occasion in which a new member of the family was added. but this time with added emphasis on poops and pees, and, who would clean up. “You know he is not very well house trained.”
Pom-pom was easily trained. He never pooped in the house, and, only twice in the garage. He watered his horse regularly out-of-doors. He loved to go for walks. And as much as I missed Tobi, Pom-pom replicated many of his habits. His night lunch treats: he, like Tobi, never begins to eat them until the third treat is in front of him. The same as Tobi, he takes table food in a delicate manner avoiding contact with my fingers. Like Tobi, he is a constant companion, always at my side. He often places his warm, small spine against mine as we sleep – a la Tobi. He prefers, as Tobi did, to make his poo by backing up to the taller grasses. He asks in his fashion to go outside in the middle of the night if he has to.
It saddens me to think that this tiny spark of life held on to the hope to be with me for six years. I am honored.