My wife found Muffin in 2002 at the King of Prussia Plaza in a pet store. I was kind of annoyed because she already put a non-refundable deposit down on a dog without asking me. Honestly I didn’t think it was a good idea because we were having difficult times and we did try a dog about a year earlier and we just couldn’t bond so we returned that dog to the original owner within a week. I harped over the fact that I’m probably going to end up taking care of this dog and not Virginia and I was already overwhelmed. Virginia insisted she would walk the dog. That along with the fact I have a hard time forfeiting a non-refundable deposit was enough to persuade me to bring home a female Maltese dog with an initial tag of “Honey Dew Mellon” on her neck.
We eventually gave her the name of Muffin. Before we left the pet store we picked out her first toys. In the above picture you’re looking at her favorite spot to chill and sleep in our house. You can see 3 of the first toys she loved starting at about 2 months of age. She loved Mr. Blue Octie with his wriggly legs that she would flail back and forth in mouth while making it squeak. She loved squeaking Diney as she could talk to me with squeaks. She loved Mr Hedge Hog so much that some of the stuffing started to come out of the bottom. She perpetually loved these toys all the way to the age of 13 years 10 months.
I took her to obedience class when she was about 6 months of age. The teacher who was a long seasoned trainer of champion dogs soon became impressed with Muffin. At some point she said to my class Muffin had the makings of a “10” scoring dog (10 being the perfect score). It was mainly because Muffin had personality, knew how to have a blast even in the midst of our very intimidating teacher. I remember at one point our teacher saying to other students that you want your dogs to have fun when they are rewarded. And while she said this all the dogs were sitting straight and disciplined wondering what to do with the reward toy that was just given to them. But Muffin had a “birthday” reward toy and she was flailing it around like nobody’s business having a good all doggy time. The teacher saw this and said, “have fun like Muffin … now she knows how to have fun”
Muffin seemed to not know fear. Not because she was “brave” but because she thought differently and didn’t quite understand why someone would throw a bean bag at her while she’s running towards them. Normally in the “come – stay” dog obedience exercise, you would have the dog sit across the room from you, tell your dog to run towards you, and then tell them to “stay” while simultaneously throwing a small bean bag in front of them to get them to stop immediately half way before reaching you. It was the fear of getting hit by the bean bag that would trigger the dog to stop, and when you associated that with the “stay” command they learned how to run towards you upon command and stop at any point you desired before reaching you. When I did that same thing with Muffin and threw the bean bag at Muffin, she didn’t stop but swerved to avoid the bean bag (probably thinking now why would you throw a something at me, it only makes it inconvenient for me to reach you), then she continued to run towards me and reach me.
I remember the teacher’s meanest, toughest and prized German Shepherd was lying down with his tennis ball. That was his tennis ball and no one better try to touch it or else!! Muffin, who was maybe 5 pounds, walks up with a bounce and picks up his tennis ball and the German Shepherds jaw drops in astonishment. Muffin prances with tennis ball in mouth and everyone else is in shock. She then walks up the back of the German Shepherd on top of his head and back down with his ball in her mouth. The German Shepherd is stunned that he’s been showed up by a tiny girl maybe only slightly bigger than his head.
I could go on with a ton of stories. I have tons of magical videos of Muffin doing amazing and funny things. I have endless special memories. I could go on forever.
At the bottom of the photo with Muffin’s toys is Muffin’s collar with her name tag she wore for many years up until November 10th, 2015 at 6 AM. That was about the time I removed the collar from her neck for the last time. Muffin was exhausted from so much non-stop labored breathing. My wife and I made a decision. I sat across from Muffin in the oxygen unit a good long time before I felt Muffin and I were ready. I communicated silently with my Baby. She no longer had the terror in the eyes. She looked very tired. At some point I swear she was telling me “come on … let’s get this going … I’m getting a little impatient … come on Babby”
My baby lied in my lap panting. With the first injection she calmed down and finally was able to relax. After the final injection she quickly left her body. Muffin was the best dog. She was my one and only baby daughter. Thank you Muffin!
I want to thank many of you who I had been able to share various parts of my struggle and grief. Thank you Muffin baby. Thank you Virginia for getting Muffin. And finally thank myself for being such a loving daddy. Knowing what I know and have experienced I would have felt sorry for Muffin not having someone as loving as me. So while she saved me in some my darkest times I guess I saved her or maybe even I learned more about saving myself.
Another graduate of BBSH told me that Muffin was another reflection of me. That the emptiness that I was starting to feel with Muffin starting to fade away was the missing of the mirror so that I could no longer find myself making me feel so cold and empty. When that was shared I broke down in tears as that resonated with me. But it also made me perk up because if that’s the case then much of what I love about Muffin that I think are qualities I wish I could have, I actually might have. I pondered that that bright cheerful Muffin, that really cared about people, that I longed to be more like might actually be me. That I’m a really wonderful loving person … wow. So I can thank and love myself too.
I will miss Muffin peering up at me thru my glass top kitchen table every time I eat.
I will miss Muffin keeping me company at times in the car while I’m doing errands.
When I’m in the basement I will miss the patter of Muffins paws on the hard wood floor above my head.
I’m happy that we agonized about our decisions at the emergency room. We deliberated independently on our own time, and we were there physically, emotionally and intimately with Muffin for many final special moments until the very last second. And even for many minutes after she left, we loved her limp body. I scan every nook and cranny of any possible critical voice that could emerge of “what if” or “should I have” and there are no doubts and regrets left. A trillion self-imposed inquiries of “could you”, “what if”, “but I wish” get no-where because they have nothing to grab on to. My case against my inner prosecution is solid. I so so so so so much love myself for that. I’m in awe of myself. I love myself. I’m so happy and relieved.
So there we have it tremendous happiness simultaneously coexisting in the same spot as great loss. The only regret is the loss. But in a mind-boggling way the intensity and pain of the loss is exactly the beauty and awe of the gift. How can great pain and great happiness be one and the same? Sort of makes no sense but that’s exactly what it seems like.
In loving memory of Muffin: Jan 2002 to Nov 2015