by Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson
I don’t write about animals, but with two neurotic cats and a very prissy little dog – all rescues from horrific situations – I live with them all the time.
Mindy is a small 12 pound blonde dog who is half terrier mix and half pure diva. As far as she is concerned the house and everything in it – except perhaps our bossy little tuxedo cat Squeaky Boots – belongs to her. She has as many toys as the average day care center, and no matter how often I pick up they litter the floor like a minefield.
It wasn’t always so, though. When my husband returned from his last Iraqi deployment I told him it was time to get another dog, as our beloved little poodle had died just before he shipped out. We went down to East Lake Pet Orphanage, where we get all our animals, and asked to see a little dog. We were told they only had one, and she was spoken for by a woman who was coming to pick her up in a few days.
I asked if we could just play with the little dog for a while. Knowing that my husband had just returned from a war zone, they happily agreed and put us in an empty room. When Mindy came in I knew instantly that she had to be ours. She was hesitant and darling and wearing one of the ugliest dog dresses I had ever seen. We played with her for half an hour, each minute making me feel ever more strongly that she was our dog.
When the adoptions lady – whom we had known for years – came back, I started negotiating, doing everything in my power to get this dog. She was sympathetic but firm, saying that this other woman had been talking to them for over a month about Mindy, and that there was no way we could have her.
I don’t know why, but I looked her straight in the eye and said, “When she calls and tells you she doesn’t want the dog, we do and she is ours.”
The lady was startled, but politely insisted that it wasn’t going to happen. I repeated my order again. I ended up doing it four more times, each time more forcefully, every time she told me that it wasn’t possible. Finally – just to shut me up, I’m sure – she took my cell phone number and promised to call if the other woman called and decided not to take the dog. Obviously she didn’t believe it was going to happen.
The orphanage is exactly 4.4 miles from our house. We hadn’t even gotten home when my cell phone rang. It was the adoptions lady, her voice shaky and full of awe when she told me the woman had just called and she had decided not to take Mindy. I smiled and told her we’d pick our new baby up at 10 the next morning.
Oddly enough, from then until she left several years later, the adoptions lady made sure she was never alone with me again. I heard that the incident had freaked her out quite badly and she almost believed I was a witch. I’m not, but if I did do something to change the path of the cosmos I wish I knew how I had done it. It could be a useful skill!
Mindy has an unfortunately tragic history. Someone found her stumbling along a road, so starved she was almost too weak to walk, her claws overgrown so badly that they had punctured a couple of her pads. The worst thing was, she was judged to be only about eight months old – and she was lactating. The person who found her was a good person, for they searched for her puppies, but could never find them. He took her to East Lake, which has a wonderful medical system for their orphans. They saved Mindy medically, but she was so depressed that they wouldn’t even show her for possible adoption for almost four months for fear she wasn’t going to survive.
No trace of that pathetic creature remains. Mindy is active, bossy, loving, fun – a wonderful little dog. Her only failing – if you can call it such – is that she hates big dogs. When we go walking small and medium-sized dogs rate only a bark-bark, sniff-sniff, wag-wag and then all is cool. Big dogs – she goes into stealth mode. Not a sound, but suddenly she is latched onto their throats and growling for all she is worth. The big dogs in our neighborhood know to respect her – as do their owners – and steer clear. One of the funniest sights I’ve ever seen is an enormous Harlequin Great Dane – roughly the size of a small pony – literally dragging his owner to the other side of the street the moment he laid eyes on my tiny 12 pound darling. My personal opinion of such blatant animosity is that when she was out on her own (and Heaven only knows how she got there) she saw a big dog eat her puppies. I cannot imagine anything else that could cause such pure hatred of all big dogs.
Other than that, though, there is no hatred in Mindy. She wags, she plays, she sleeps at my feet while I work, she loves my husband and me devotedly, constantly warning us of sinister postmen and marauding moths. I may not write about her in my books, but I cannot imagine life without her.
PS – Why Monkey Dog? When we pick her up to hold her, she will wrap her forelegs around our arm. On seeing this, one of my friends said, “She looks like a monkey.” It seemed only fitting that she have a name as unique as she is.
Janis Susan May Patterson is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation wordsmith who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Patterson, romances, horror and other things as Janis Susan May, children’s books as Janis Susan Patterson and non-fiction and scholarly works as J.S.M. Patterson.
Formerly an actress and singer, a talent agent and Supervisor of Accessioning for a bio-genetic DNA testing lab, Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist. She is a founder of RWA and currently serves on a regional MWA Board.
Janis married for the first time when most of her contemporaries were becoming grandmothers. Her husband, also an Egyptophile, even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in
with an assortment of rescued furbabies. Texas
Find Janis on Twitter @JanisSusanMay and on Facebook at Janis Susan May.