Four More MinPins
Last Saturday, I wrote about the first four MinPins who lived with me in Missoula. Today, I want to talk about four more MinPins. Counting Dinah from my childhood and Jr., a MinPin cross, ten MinPins have made a major impact in my life. Now, at seventy years, having just adopted two Chihuahua puppies, I don’t know if more MinPins will live with me. That said, I love the breed and who knows what tomorrow will bring.
Back to California
In February, 2006, I quit my job and went to California with the intent of looking after my mother. When I had visited her for my birthday two years earlier, we watched the Presidential Debates. Three time during that broadcast, Momma asked “Who are these men? And what are they running for?” That should have been a clue. I also ignored the calls I received from Momma’s church friends. They would say “Are you aware of your mother’s condition?” What I heard was “Why aren’t you taking care of your mother so that we don’t have to?”
Then one day in January, 2006, a total stranger called to ask the same question. “Are you aware of your mother’s condition.” If non-church people were calling, I’d best take the situation seriously. When I arrived in California, I found Momma living relatively comfortably in her own home. The house, however, was not in its normal condition. Dirty dishes filled the kitchen sink. All the furniture was covered with dust, and Momma spent most of her day sitting in her rocking chair.
I had not been there two weeks when Momma gave me a wonderful present. “You may have to put me in a nursing home,” she told me. “Momma, I promised you I’d never do that,” I responded. “I know, but situations change,” she answered back. By April, I knew I did not have the skills or training to care for her. In two months, I had taken her to the Emergency Room five times. She ended up in a nursing home, and I was left in her home alone.
I missed my kids. All the dogs had stayed in Missoula with my partner. One day, looking at the want ads in the local paper, I saw an ad offering MinPin “puppies and mother.” The people offering the dogs lived about thirty miles away, but I went to visit them. The puppies were cute, adorable even. But a voice in the back of my head argued with my heart. “You have your hands full without trying to train a puppy.”
I agreed to take the mother, after the puppies no longer needed her. I paid more for Gypsy than I have ever paid for a dog. Nevertheless, I consider her a rescue. The people who sold her to me had obtained her from a puppy mill in Oregon. At that awful place, she lived in a confined space. Every time she came into heat, the breeders made sure she was pregnant. “If you don’t want her,” the sellers told me, “we’ll just take her back where we got her.”
“Over my dead body,” I thought. Gypsy had already given birth to three litters. And with that, Gypsy became the first of these four more MinPins. She lived with me for ten more years, moving from California back to Missoula, then from Missoula to Plains. In the end, she developed congestive heart failure. We took her to the vet, but the diagnosis was grave. I’m ashamed to say that I could not stay in the room when the vet gave her that final injection. Bless him, Kevin stayed with her till the end, but I sat in the waiting room and sobbed. I was not ready to say good-bye.
In 2009, Kevin and I were spending a day at our cabin in the Bitterroot Mountains. We got a call from a friend. “I know you have a bunch of MinPins, and I just found one running loose. Would you keep him while I look for his owner.” Of course I said yes. Kevin had three MinPins before we met, and he named all three Major. The new dog would be Major as well, at least until his “real owner” showed up. Our friend placed ads in the paper but no one responded.
Major was running loose in an industrial area when our friend found him. In time we came to the conclusion that he belonged to a long-haul trucker who had to stick to a schedule. He didn’t have time to run down a dog who had escaped from his truck. Major loved to go for rides, and he travelled beautifully. He would sit on the pickup’s console looking out the window. He never complained about being in the truck, but if he got loose, he would run.
Major the long-distance runner
He got away from us in Cody, Wyoming. We chased him round and round the WalMart parking lot, but couldn’t catch him. Kevin said, “I guess he’s found a new home.” Unhappy, but resigned to losing the dog, I asked only to get some coffee before we hit the road. While we stopped at a coffee stand across from WalMart, Major surprised us. He ran up to the truck and waited for us to let him in.
We made sure he never got away from the truck again. But once, after we moved to Plains, he got out of the garage and ran. I looked everywhere I knew to look, but no dog. Several hours later, I got a call. I drove to the end of the road to a house at least six miles from home. The homeowner kept dog food on her porch and had been spoiling my boy. I had a bit of trouble getting him into the car to bring him home.
As he aged, Major ran less and less. If he got out, and he did on occasion, he’d be scratching at the door after fifteen minutes. In 2019, he started failing in health. Kevin noted several times when Major would just keel over and stop breathing. He always came back to life, but we knew the end was near. Finally, we took him to the vet, knowing that we would not bring him home alive. Our vet always weighs animals as her first duty. We put Major on the scale and he laid down and died. No injection necessary. His time had come and we buried his body among the pines below our house. His body lies there near Minnie, Gypsy, Harley, and Rocky II.
Neither Kevin nor I remember exactly how or when Harley entered our lives. At a time when we had five MinPins running around the house, Harley was next to smallest. He was a love, but was fiercely protective of his space, his food, his men. I have over forty photos of Harley, but I particularly love the one above. Kevin and I were visiting Kootenai Falls and had Harley along for the trip. (Kootenai Falls is a little over 100 miles from home, so it’s an easy day trip. If you saw the Leonardo di Caprio movie The Revenant, when Leo goes over the falls, these are the falls he rides.)
I took the first photos of Harley in January 2012. He was our third MinPin to develop diabetes, and it affected his eyes just as it had Faline and Rocky I. Unfortunately, the cost of cataract surgery had increased six-fold, and there was just no way we could afford that treatment. One eye had to be removed and the socket sewn shut. Losing an eye along with the cataract in the second did not slow him down. He has been gone for a couple of years now, and I still miss him terribly.
I do remember how Rocky II entered our lives. Kevin and I had gone to the PetsMart in Missoula to buy, what else, dog food. A Polson shelter group was there, trying to find homes for some of the animals they had in their care. As we drove into the parking lot, I noticed someone walking a MinPin outside the store. Inside, we learned the MinPin’s name was Major and that he needed a good home. We already had a Major, but we adopted the boy and changed his name to honor Rocky I.
Rocky II was a great guy. He got along well with all the other kids, but was especially close to Major. When Major went for his six mile run, Rocky II was right at this side. When Major died, Rocky started to go downhill, and made his final trip to the vet just a few months after Major died on the vet’s scale. Kevin said “No more dogs,” and after losing two in such short time, I was inclined to agree. But that’s a story for next Saturday.
If you want to learn more about MinPins, let me suggest an article written by Jen Stark on her website Your Dog Advisor. This is a comprehensive look at 15 things you should know about Miniature Pinschers.
This picture which appears at the top of the page is a composite of four separate photographs taken of the most recent male MinPins in our life. You’ve already read about Major, Rocky and Harley. The dog identied here as Grover we have renamed. Today he goes by the name “Digger,” and I’ll tell his story next week.
I’ve owned and driven two different Volvos, both station wagons. Volvo builds good cars, but with the P-1800 they also built a beautiful car. Not known for sports cars, Volvo broke out of its stodgy reputation when it built the first P-1800 in 1961. They continued building the cars until 1973. In his TV show The Saint, Roger Moore drove one. Another driver drove his for over three million miles, a record for number of miles driven in one car by the original owner. I certainly wouldn’t mind having one of my own.
Yesterday’s Recipe of the Day called for dried lavender. That’s not something I have had in my pantry or spice cabinet, and my neighbor Jean didn’t have any either. Kevin had to make a trip into town, so I rode along and found this plant for sale. Having brought it home, I repotted it, then cut a few branches to use in my recipe. With any luck, it will flourish and the next time a recipe calls for lavender…. Yes, I know it’s not really a flower, but you should be used to me playing fast and loose with these catagories by now.
For today’s guest site, I return to Colby Morita’s blog. I chose this post, even though it’s too late to participate for 2020, because Colby raises some interesting questions about the whole art and craft of blogging. While I do not have a pet blog, per se, I like what Colby has to say. “It’s fun to look back and see your blog’s big goals, accomplishments, and failures.” He speaks of the Pet Bloggers Challenge and adds “This was always my time to reflect on what we accomplished on the blog and develop a vision for where we’re heading in the future.” In any type of endeavor, whether we blog or run a restaurant, or pretty much anything else, reflection and vision are crucial. I, for one, look forward to checking all the links on Colby’s Pet Bloggers Journey post.
As I have the past two Saturdays, today’s recipe is for the dogs. This recipe for heart-shaped chicken treats requires the use of heart-shaped baking molds. I include a link to Amazon where you can buy silicone heart-shaped molds, but in the interest of full disclosure, if you buy using my link, I do get a cut. Just one way to help support this blog. I also need to point out that the recipe as printed does not indicate just how many treats you’ll end up with. Guess I’ll have to make a batch and report back.
Speaking of reporting back, after posting my blog yesterday, I made a loaf of the Lemon-Lavender Pound Cake. I have to say it is really tasty. And even better the next day as the flavors seem to have enhanced overnight. I didn’t have dried lavender, so I bought a lavender plant, repotted it, then cut a few stems to use in the recipe. Also, I didn’t have a lemon with a clear skin, so I skipped putting the lemon peel on the glaze. Next time.
Three weeks ago, we added two new dogs to our pack. All the pure MinPins have passed on and Digger was feeling lonely. We visited a shelter in Polson, Montana, and came home with two Chihuahua cross pups. I’ve never had a Chihuahua before, let alone two, so I found today’s video to be quite informative. If you want to know the similarities and differences between MinPins and Chihuahuas, watch the video.
So long, and thanks for all the…
And that brings us to the end of another day’s post. I hope you enjoyed meeting my kids, and I hope the attached pages give you food for thought. Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, I’ll be writing about El Cerrito, California, where we lived for five years in the mid 1960s and where I attended Jr. High and High School.
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Stay tuned, and TTFN