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Friday, October 30 Front Page >> Random Rants >> An Ode to Mitzy

Mar 25, 2005, 1:45am


An Ode to Mitzy, in Three Parts

Part One

Even before I moved in with Jeanette, way back in the early 1990s, I talked to her about how I wanted to get a dog. I'd grown up always having a dog, and even though I was only living in Vancouver for a short time at that point, I felt almost naked, almost as if something was missing by not having a dog.

Jeanette wasn't too keen on the idea at first, but did like the idea, and did seem to grow on it. She just wasn't sure she was allowed to have a dog in her basement two bedroom suite. I thought it would be no problem, as the main floor tenants had a dog; but (and showing a state of things to come) the landlord said no to her when she brought it up.

I moved during a sunny May day, and for the next week or two, I talked about a dog. Getting one. Finding the perfect canine companion. Getting a dog that would outdo all other dogs in terms of cuddliness, cuteness, intelligence, and companionship. I guess it wore Jeanette's resistance down (and the fact that she didn't like to break rules) because one day, I suggested she stop by the SPCA to check out what they had...

And she came home with Mitzy.

Mitzy's story was one of those "scratch your head" ones. She was a five year old toy poodle with some border collie in her. She was this amazing little bundle - mature, but still extremely playful and even mischievous. She was beautiful beyond belief. And she was only one day away from euthanisation - this was when the Vancouver SPCA was still euthanising dogs when they were in the pound for too long.

As Jeanette tells the story, she was walking down the rows of kennels at the SPCA, and all the dogs were going ballistic - barking, running around in circles, jumping, hopping, saying "Take me! Take me!" in the ways dogs do at the pound. But she came to one cage, and no sounds... she looked, and there was this little fifteen pound bundle of black curls and wagging tail, sitting attentively, looking at Jeanette intelligently.

For Jeanette, it was love at first sight.

And she brought Mitzy home that day, even without checking with me first, or phoning, or anything.

And when I saw her and Mitzy, it was love at first sight for me too. And I thought at that moment this was one of the most amazing things Jeanette could have ever done. We had our dog.

Part Two

Click for larger image

We had Mitzy in the basement suite for a year or so, when our landlord, poster child for scummy landlords, pulled a surprise inspection, giving us about a half hour's notice.

Problem is, we had a dog. A quiet, intelligent dog that didn't even bark in the first three years we owned her (seriously! We actually got worried that she couldn't bark!). A dog that made a grand total of one mess in our basement suite in that one year, and showed such amazing guilt over the act, she was almost human.

And our landlord nixed us having a dog. Even though he allowed the upstairs woman to have one (the woman was quite stunning in her beauty, which did have a lot to do with the decision, but that's another story).

He showed up one day and said "I need to take a look at the apartment." I said he'd have to wait until we cleaned up a bit. And we panicked. What to do about Mitzy? Being young and nervous, we didn't know what to do because the landlord was in the back yard, where our door was. Then we came up with the idea to smuggle Mitzy out the bedroom window in a bag. The landlord hadn't seen Jeanette, so the idea was, she'd take the dog out, walk down the street with her in the case, and if the landlord saw her, she'd act like she was just arriving (we didn't think about what to do after that though, if that happened!).

And that's what we did. We put Mitzy in a small suitcase. I was worried she'd freak out being sealed up in it even for such a brief period, but you know what? She seemed to sense that there was this covert thing going on where silence was needed (the landlord was literally 10 feet away from the side window!) so she went into the bag and remained quiet.

Jeanette climbed out of the window as quietly as possible, and I passed the bag to her. The plan was, she'd walk around the corner of the house, take Mitzy out, go to the Starbucks at W. Broadway and Basewater, and wait for an hour. This was pre-cell phone days, so she'd cautiously check to see if the landlord's van was gone before coming back home.

The entire time, Mitzy was calm, collective, and accepted her fate. She was so intelligent (probably more than her owners!) that she really seemed to know what was going on, and maybe even enjoyed the covert action.

Jeanette and Mitzy got away, the landlord did the inspection and left. Mitzy and Jeanette came back soon later, and for a while yet, we had our pooch, safe and sound.

Part Three

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Teddy and Mitzy
There were times where the two dogs would pose and look nice for the camera...

Mitzy was a spayed female, but she thought she was male at times, and would sometimes hump Jeanette's knee when Jeanette was sleeping in bed. It was always funny for me to see, something to walk in on - Jeanette, snoozing away, and Mitzy going to town. Crazy dog.

As she got along in years, and after Teddy was introduced to our house, the two of them "tolerated" each other, at best. When Mitzy could still see, she was the boss of Teddy and he didn't like that. But as Mitzy lost her sight, Teddy would sometimes snap and nip at her if she blindly stumbled near him. I often wished that Teddy and Mitzy would appreciate each other more. Then one day, it happened.

Teddy had a love for being under blankets, but not for too long. He loved the feel of material above him, around him, and I think he liked the darkness. It made him playful.

Mitzy... well, she still liked her humping activities - always on Jeanette's knee or lower leg.

One day, Jeanette was playing with Teddy, letting him roam under the bed blanket, and Mitzy hopped up on the bed. She was blind, but still knew the routine and height to jump up. She stumbled around, and found this lump on the bed... not what she thought it was though. Instead of being Jeanette's knee, it was Tedster himself. But she didn't care - nope, she started gripping the sides of the blanketed Teddy, and started wailing away.

Jeanette was witness to this first time - and was laughing so hard, she was hyperventilating and having difficulty breathing. By the time Mitzy was done, she had this super satisfied look on her face, and was panting and happy-like. Jeanette pulled back the blanket, and out came Ted, all super happy and wanting more of this weird, mysterious bumping!

We finely found a way for Ted and Mitz to get along!

The Ode Concludes

Yesterday, we had to say goodbye to our dear Mitzy. We had to hold her and caress her one last time as she was sedated, then euthanised. She was 18 years old. As Beata said to me, it takes an exceptional kind of care, attention and a loving home for a dog to live that long. And you know what? She's right.

We were blessed the day we were given Mitzy - the smartest, most intelligent and compassionate dog I've ever had the pleasure of knowing in my life. She blessed my life, Jeanette's life, and the lives of every person who's had the chance to meet her, play with her, enjoy her company.

For the last few years, Mitzy's light, Mitzy's star was fading. Blindness, deafness, skin problems, arthritis, all were setting in. In the last few months, there was no more quality of life for her, and while she's always been a fighter, her good fight was all but done.

Jeanette and I were with her in her last moments. Just as we were with Teddy in his last moments, almost exactly six months ago. My hope is now, Teddy and Mitzy are together again, and this time, genuinely enjoying each other's company, waiting for their owners to come and see them again.

I'll miss you Mitzy. But I also want to thank you for making my life so rich during my time with you.

Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image
Mitzy and Hamster
For a while, Jeanette had a hamster (Joxter), and Mitzy was sooooo fascinated with it...
Monkey see..
Mitzy was so smart, we actually got her to "train" Teddy to do tricks. Here Jeanette is working with both dogs.
Yes, this was staged. No, actually it wasn't. Or maybe it was.

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