It’s hard to believe she’s almost a year old. Her birthday is this Wednesday and I plan to take the day off so that I can spend it with her. She doesn’t like it when I leave her behind to go to work. Every morning it breaks my heart to hear her barking from behind my bedroom door… pleading with me to open it and let her come with me. It hurts me in the mornings when i’m putting on my socks and shoes — she knows I’m getting ready to go — and seeing her laying by the door ready to leap out of the room as soon as I stand up… as though thinking that if she’s just fast enough, she can escape her confinement for the day and come with me to work.
Every morning I pick her up and give her kisses and tell her how pretty she is and that I’ll miss her and to be good… I’ll be back soon and then we can play. It makes me teary eyed just typing this because I want to see her sweet face looking up at me… ready to come give me her famous puppy kisses.
To think… I was so highly resistant to the notion of having another animal come live in my home. I already had a dog, Dax, and a cat, Kanika. Our roommate had his dog too and I felt overwhelmed by the virtual petting zoo that roamed my house. But Mike was persistent, he had to have a little dog. I didn’t like little dogs. They barked a lot and he’d let the mangy thing sleep on my bed. My dog had just started to mellow out, my roommate was moving out, and I was starting to look forward to having fewer furballs underfoot.
Mike’s sister picked up Leia from a swapmeet somewhere in California. Free puppies! So she took one home, the one that would one day become mine. Well soon after, she had to move, and decided it was too much trying to keep tabs on such a little puppy with all the boxes that could squash her, as well as her own youngling who was now mobile and had to have a close eye on her too. It was just too much to keep track off and so it was decided that the puppy should be given to Mike.
I remember getting a few pictures of the little one sent to my cell phone to show Mike and see if he wanted her. Remember, I was very very resistant to the idea of another dog, but as soon as I saw her adorable little face for the first time I knew there was nothing I could do to keep her away from my home. Leia was coming to join my family and that was that. From those first photos I started falling in love with her.
So Thanksgiving of 2006 and Leia came to live with us. She went through a bit of a name change because Mike really wanted a little dog named Mimi. I didn’t really like that name but did like Leia. So for a time she was officially named Mileia and called Mimi for short. It only took a few nights before I gave in and let her sleep up on the bed with me and Mike. She hasn’t slept off the bed since. At first she took mostly to Mike and so she’d cuddle up with him when we went to sleep. But late at night I’d wake up to see her scooting up close to me. She’d lick my face as if to say "Hey, I’m here next to you. Don’t roll over on me." I’d wake up in the morning to find her sprawled out so she could touch us both.
Mike was working evenings at that time and so while she was definitely more attached to Mike than me, she’d find herself spending a lot of time with me and we bonded quickly. So while I was upstairs playing on my computer, or down on the couch playing with my Xbox… there was a little blonde puppy laying next to me and keeping me company. As long as Mike was away, she was right there wherever I went.
As fate would have it, Mike and I split up a couple of months after Leia came to live with us. By the end of January Mike was on his way to Vegas and I was quite distraught. Not only was my relationship over, but this little puppy I’d fallen in love with was going to leave me too. Well, in Mike’s haste to depart, his living situation was a bit up in the air for when he’d arrive in Vegas and I had serious misgivings about subjecting Leia to an unknown and potentially unhealthy environment. She’s very social and had up until that time always had either a person to hang out with, or at the very least Dax and Kanika around to keep her company. I loathed the notion that she might be left all by herself for considerable chunks of time while Mike was working… or potentially left where a stranger could mistreat her. not that these were definite probabilities or anything, but it was certainly a possibility. So I convinced Mike he should leave Leia with me until he got himself situated and then come back and get her.
While I was quite happy that I got to spend more time with Leia, there was always a lingering sadness that she’d have to go live in Vegas sooner or later. Try as I might to maintain some distance and protect myself from that inevitability, I just couldn’t. Her sweet puppy eyes pierced right through me and into my heart where she’s remained firmly lodged. Not liking Mimi I reverted to her proper name of Mileia, which I often twisted to be "My" Leia, stressing the Leia part. I figured this way she’d at least respond to Mike when he called her by name,without having to keep using the name Mimi which I just detested.
When Mike came back for her shortly before my birthday in March, I happened to not be at home at the time. Part of me wanted to stay away because then I wouldn’t have to deal with watching her leave me. I’d just come home and she’d be gone like she was never there. I thought it might be easier on me, but I also thought I’d regret not getting to say good bye to her. Well I finally arrive home and Mike pulls me upstairs cause he wants to talk to me. I thought it was about us, but instead it was about her. When he had arrived she came up to him to say hello, but largely ignored him in favor of playing with her packmates, Dax and Kanika. Mike watched all this and although sad at his decision, decided it was better for her to remain with me where she’d have this constant companionship. She was happy where she lived and he knew it. So the talk he wanted to have was to give me the best birthday present ever–Leia was to become my puppy. By then we had a very strong bond between us, me and Leia. I was now the one she followed everywhere and the one she cried at the door for everytime I stepped through it without her.
Now six months later I can’t imagine life without her. Sometimes I think about the what-ifs.. the various calamities that could befall her and take her from me… or I think about what it will be like in 20 years when she’s too old to go on anymore and gives me that last puppy kiss before taking a long long nap. Such things make me cry almost instantly so I try and keep those thoughts at bay. I just know it would hit me very hard if I ever lost her, so I spoil her and keep her safe. At times I think I’m being overly protective as she’s a dog and wants to do dog things and I don’t like to let her do dog things when dog things put her in danger. I guess that’s what being a good parent is all about. I just detest having to deny her anything she wants.
This has been a bit of a roller-coaster year for me and Leia has been along for the ride. I swear when things have been at their darkest, she’s the ray of sunshine that keeps me going. I owe a lot to her for keeping my sanity. Whenever i’m feeling unhappy, just thinking of her makes me smile. She has really stolen my heart. She’s made my world a happier place and I’ll forever be thankful that she came into it. Even when she’s misbehaved I can’t help but smile at her. No other dog gets free reign to lick me, let alone lick my face. Puppy kisses I just can’t get enough of.
So here I am at her first birthday, something she knows nothing about, and all I can think about is how I can make her know its her special day. She’ll just be happy that I won’t be leaving her behind to go to work, that she can run amok all day with me there. I want to do something extra special for her though. For being my faithful counselor she deserves it. My forever puppy… she may get older, but she’ll never get bigger, and she’ll never be loved more than she is by me.