Remembering Missy, the Schnauzer
In 2003, several years after the Cocker Spaniel we’d gotten when I was in junior high passed away, I decided it was time my dad had another dog. I discussed it with my mom, and she agreed. I went to see them over my vacation that summer, and Mom and I went to the pound to see what dogs they had available for adoption. Mom’s parameters were small to medium, young but not a puppy, and no known behavioral issues.
They had a large room full of Rottweilers, Dobermans, Shepherds, and other mixed-breed large dogs. Then, in a little room off to the side, they had the toy/small dogs and puppies. In this room, they had two dogs they considered “medium” sized: a Beagle-Daschund mix and a Schnauzer, between miniature and standard size. The Beaschund (Daschle?) had in its paperwork that it had been signed over by the owners because it was a digger. Nope, not that one. So that left the Schnauzer.
At our request, they took her out of the kennel and brought her out into the yard so that we could interact with her out in the open. She was lovely. Friendly, but not jumpy. Curious, but not more interested in sniffing around than in interacting with us. Happy to be with us. They told us that she was found abandoned (or a runaway) on the side of the road, so they didn’t know much about her. They did know that she seemed to be housebroken—because she wouldn’t go in the kennel; she wouldn’t even go on the fenced-in concrete patio where we were. They had to walk her out in the grass beside the building before she’d go. Sounded perfect to us.
But some dogs seem fine with women but get skittish or worse around men. So we decided that, instead of taking her home immediately, we’d head home and then I would go back with my dad so he could see her and decide if she was the one he wanted.
We went to Walmart, got a little $1 stuffed dog and a small bag of dog food, which we put down into a gift bag. I handed it to him when we got back to the house and told him that I knew his birthday was still more than three months off, but since I wouldn’t be there to give him his birthday present, I wanted to take him to go get it while I was there.
Needless to say, we left the pound with a scraggly gray bundle of joy. After a stop at the vet—who determined she was anywhere between three and five years old—and a stop at Petsmart for leash, collar, toys, food, etc., we brought her home.
After some debate and many suggestions, Mom suggested naming her Missy, after the black Cocker Spaniel she’d had as a child. So Missy it was. (And yes, my dad found much better groomers after this terrible cut!)
Missy became an integral part of the family. When my parents came to stay with me when I had back surgery a few months later, Missy came with them.
When Daddy had heart surgery a couple of years after, she helped him get better by making sure he got well enough to take her for her morning and evening walks.
When Mom broke her ankle a couple of weeks before Christmas, throwing off our planned family trip to a resort, Missy made sure her lap stayed warm as often as possible.
Above all, Missy just wanted to be with her family. And we were only too happy to oblige.
In 2008, Mom and Dad began the process of retiring and moving to Hot Springs. And Missy discovered a new love—boating. And the ducks and geese that frequented the area around the marina. That was one of the few times she ever barked. Ever.
Missy was a very schedule-oriented dog. Walk first thing in the morning as soon as Daddy gets up. Walk last thing at night right before bed. Get treats. Eat. Sleep the other 23 hours a day.
Her worst habit was the pathological need to get into the lap of anyone who came into the living room and sat down. She didn’t just jump up, though. She waited for an invitation (and, in later years, help) to get up. But she lived with the knowledge that anyone who came into her house came into her house for the sole purpose of loving on her. And when people came into her house, she’d lift her head in greeting—from her position either in someone’s lap or her bed. Then she might get up, stretch, and meander over to the newcomer and wait to be greeted. She was no look-at-me, look-at-me diva. She was a true lady, not demanding respect and admiration, but earning it.
Not being able to have a pet in my rental house, Missy was, by extension, “mine” as well. After all, I did help bring her into the family. And this was never as true as from November 2010 to February 2011 when I lived with my parents and my canine sibling while recuperating from my broken ankle and surgery. Missy took it upon herself to make sure that, throughout that long, cold winter, when I couldn’t be up and about doing much of anything anyway, that I never lacked for a lap warmer and something to do with my hands (which was usually trying to use my laptop with my right hand—it was balanced on the arm of the sofa—while petting her with my left).
Other than in my dad’s lap or mine (when I was there, because she always knew I’d hold her as long as she’d allow me to), this was her favorite place in the world:
In her bed, on the rug my dad hooked in Alaska almost forty years ago, in front of the fireplace.
When Mom and Dad came to visit me for my birthday the first weekend in June, they brought Missy with them, and she stayed with me at the house since the hotel didn’t accept pets. I knew then that she wasn’t feeling well and that she probably wouldn’t be with us much longer. I just didn’t expect it to come so soon afterward. So I’m glad I had that one last opportunity to spend time with her and take her for walks and just love on her.
She will be sorely missed.