April 13, 2011

Mystical White Winter

Today's post is kind of a sad one and I want to start it by saying that my family takes its dogs very seriously.  They aren't just pets, they are family members and are treated and loved as such.

Well, yesterday my family experienced a loss of one of our family members.  We lost our loyal and beautiful pup, Mystical White Winter (Misty for short). We named her Mystical because the breeder was called Mystical Sams, and we wanted to honor that side of her.  She got White from our first Samoyed, White Lightning Storm (aka Lightning) and Winter from our second Samoyed, Stormy Winter Angel (aka Stormy).  (It was a weather and white theme for some reason, and as one person pointed out to us, the weather got better as we went on: Lightning-Stormy-Misty).

She was a great dog.  Throughout my childhood we had two other Samoyeds, but Misty was the best of them.  Not that we didn't love the other ones, because we did, but Misty was special somehow.  She was so well-behaved and gentle and friendly.  She was also extremely beautiful, if you can't tell from the above picture.  And her fur was the softest, silkiest fur in the world.  Especially the tips of her ears, on her nose and on top of her head.  She also gave great doggy kisses and I had a little saying whenever she gave me one, "Kisses from Misty for Kristi" or I would say the opposite when I kissed her head, "Kisses for Misty from Kristi".  It's kind of silly, but now I'm sad that I will never be able to get those Misty kisses again.

Misty-Kristi Kisses in action!  (It's a picture of a picture so it's kind of poor quality)

We got Misty when I was a junior in high school.  She came from a purebred family of Samoyeds and her father was even a champion of some sort and featured in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade one year.  When we first got her it was sort of confusing for her to learn her name, because, hello, Kristi and Misty sort of more than rhyme.  For awhile, I would answer when my dad or mom had actually said "Misty" and sometimes Misty would respond to my parents calling "Kristi."  It was quite funny.

When we got Misty we still had another Samoyed, Stormy, who was a great dog as well and she was around 6 at the time.  They lived well together and would play like dogs do, and Stormy would put Misty in her place when needed.  I was the only child at home, my sister being off at college, so the dogs would often sleep in my (messy) room.  It was nice to know I had two big, furry guard dogs at the side of my bed in case of any intruders!  Misty also liked to sleep with her head underneath my bed but her body protruding, I never really understood that part.

I went off to college when Misty was almost two, and about six months later Stormy had to be put down because her hips wouldn't work.  I was heartbroken to not be there to say goodbye, but it was comforting to know that Misty was still at home and that I could cuddle with her when I came home on the weekends and for holidays.  It was during this time that my parents kept reciting the phrase, "This will be our last dog, we don't want anymore after this."

For the next three years Misty got used to being an only dog, and I think she really liked it.  It was during this time that she really bonded with my mom, who was her human.  You see, my dad is a pilot so he's often gone for extended periods of time, and with her two children off at school, my mom always came home to Misty, and Misty was always waiting at home for my mom.  Sure, my mom may have lamented about the trouble of having a big dog every once in awhile, but in spite of that she loved Misty and Misty loved her back.  And I think they were both grateful for the companionship.

Then I got Chico, my little monster, and Misty was no longer the only dog, at least not when I would go home for the weekends with Chico.  But I think Misty liked Chico.  They actually lived together at my parents house for two months while I was away in Greece.  I remember my mom sending me emails talking about how Misty and Chico would "help" her in the garden and that Chico looked like a pigpen because he was so dirty.  The emails I received from my mother during this time were hilarious because it was like Chico could do no wrong.  Here's an example of one of those emails (verbatim--copy and pasted; it's written by my mom):

"Last night I was working on the computer and the dogs were upstairs.  Your Dad was finishing his packing for his trip.  I went upstairs and ran my bath.  When I walked back out into the hallway I walked into a puddle!  I cleaned it up and then I got Chico--he growled at me.  I told him no and then put him in his kennel.  I also told him he is to never pee in my house again.  Then I went upstairs and had my bath.  I admit that I did yell at him.  Well... when I got done in the tub here is Chico on the bed with Dad.  Apparently Dad went down and had a 'chat' with him.  He lets him get away with murder almost."

The line in italics is probably the funniest part of it all and shows how even my tough pops is a dog-lover, but I digress (it's genetic, just ask my dad!).  This is about Misty, not Chico, and Chico loved playing with Misty; they would wrestle, with Chico up on his hind legs, front paws on her face, while she just stood there, mouthing him.  Since she was so big and Chico so small in comparison, it was always more work for Chico to play with her, while she would either just sit down or stand and not really move.  They were a cute pair and I believe they legitimately liked each other.

Misty and Chico (see, he's tiny compared to her)!
And for awhile it was the two of them until my parents' pestering about them keeping Chico and my continual refusal lead them into thinking of getting their own small dog (they really loved Chico).  Of course, this was after years of saying that they weren't going to get anymore dogs, but I think Chico kind of changed that for everyone.  So, one weekend when my parents came to visit my sister and me in Minneapolis, I helped them search for a small dog online.  I had actually had my eye on one dog on petfinder.com whose name was Jasper and who was a poodle-bichon mix.  He looked like Chico, but was a bit taller and bigger, and the description of him was that he was very gentle and a great companion dog (everything my mother wanted in a dog).

I convinced them to apply for that dog and one other while they were there and even helped them fill out the application material.  About a week or two later they brought Jasper home to be their companion dog.

Misty and Jasper got along very well (Misty was a really chill dog and not much bothered her).  And in the summers it was Misty, Jasper and my mom gardening together.  They were a good pair and my mom would tell me stories of how Misty and Jasper would play with each other.  Jasper also took to barking at Misty if she was chewing the one bone he wanted, even if there were five other ones scattered throughout the house.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Misty was smart enough to do this on purpose, as if taunting him.

Misty and Jasper
About a year after getting Jasper, my sister adopted a dog herself, a little Shih-Tzu called Georgie.  And our ever expanding family of pups grew!  At this point, my parents started to call Chico and Georgie their grandpups and they were proud and happy grandhumans!  Holidays were always fun with the three little dogs running around and wrestling and Misty occasionally stepping in as referee (she often barked at them while they were playing as if to say, "Cut it out!").  I think all the other dogs knew that Misty was the undisputed Alpha female, and she definitely took pride in that fact.

Misty and Georgie (he always looks that concerned).
 Here's a picture of the entire pack together:

The Pack: Georgie, Misty, Jasper and Chico
About three months ago my husband and I rescued a dog which we named Wrigley.  She was a novelty to the group because she was female.  And unfortunately she did not get to spend too much time with Misty.  She met Misty about two weeks ago, and Misty of course was unfazed by another little ankle-biter in the group.

And even two weeks ago Misty was fairly healthy.  She was being treated for this chronic itch that had left her with a little fur loss on her belly, but the doctor thought it was under control.  When she died yesterday, it was definitely unexpected, but my mom was luckily there to help her pass onto wherever we go after we die.  I think this is the way Misty wanted it because my mom was her human and the person she cared most about in the entire world (she was always a little neurotic when my mom left for extended periods of time, just ask my husband about that messy and smelly story!).  And even though she was only 8 1/2 years old, and probably should have lived for many more years, her years here were very good, if not fantastic.  My parents took great care of her and I always made a point to spend some time showering her with love whenever I came home.

We all loved Misty, she was our girl and she will be sorely missed not only by us humans but by the little pups as well.  My mom says that Jasper is already a little confused as to where she went.  And I'm sure Chico might be perplexed the next time he goes home and can't find Misty.  Her death has definitely left a hole in our family that can never be replaced, but she's at peace now and our many memories of her will sustain us!

Doesn't she have a great smile?!?

Love you, Misty!


Mom said...

A wonderful story about Misty, who has been my constant conpanion for 8 1/2 years. Thank you for such a beautiful tribute Kristi. I will miss her dearly.

Marc said...

I get it. Its tougher than we care to admit when our pups die. Especially at such an early age. My Sasha passed away at a young seven. But even two years later her sweetness and the memories of her still make me smile and choke up. Misty was a beautiful sweet dog and I loved my time with her when I visited.

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