Dogs always terrified me. They’re loud and unpredictable. They’ll jump on you with their mouths wide open, their tongues hanging out, and their savage flesh-ripping teeth coming right for your face. If you’re five, Marsha Gumber’s aggressive little mutt might cut you off from your house and bark and bark and bark while blood runs from the scrape on your knee to the edge of your lacy chartreuse ankle sock. Maybe you’ll cry. In your heart you’ll know that a dog will never be your best friend.
So how did I end up with a dog?
I’m a cat person. I have been since I was six, when our neighbor’s cat had kittens and Dad brought one home. She was a beautiful Maine Coon who loved all of us and liked hanging out in the bedroom I shared with my older sister, who named her Figaro. She was still with us when I moved out after college.
Except for the first eight months after that, I’ve shared my home with at least one cat. (Once, for 2-1/2 weeks, there were seven.) I understand them. I admire them. I identify with their independent self-sufficiency.
Brylan loved them, too. But when he moved out of town, he rescued two dogs. Sister and brother litter-mates, Mina and Hugh.
I met them during their fluff ball puppy stage, and they were, in fact, adorable. But when a series of LA apartment vacancy confusions found Brylan moving into a No Pets apartment, Hugh and Mina came to live with me in San Diego.
At the time, my house was ruled by Gretel the Gentle, Queen of Cats. Brylan had chosen her for his own 13 years earlier. She had become… majestic in stature, so I erected the baby gate between the kitchen and dining room to establish a canine-free queendom for her to rule. She didn’t seem to notice her real estate holdings had shrunk to 1/3 their former size. I suspect she viewed Mina and Hugh as serfs outside her royal walls and beyond the protection of her magnanimity.
This arrangement seemed to suit all of us.
Well, Life happens, and lives end. Mina left a sorrow-filled hole in our hearts when she succumbed to massive kidney failure at the tender age of four. Two years later, at the grand old age of 18-1/2, Gretel passed gently into the Eternal Unknown.
What about Hugh, you wonder?
What can I tell you?
Hugh is my best friend.