I had bought my first townhome, and was teaching school in Indianapolis. One day, one of my student’s came to class and reported that her dog had puppies – all male except for one black female. To make a long(er) story short, I purchased the black female and named her Mei-Mei after a character in an Amy Tan novel. The name fit because my lovely girl was the only female in the litter, and Chow-Chow’s are of Chinese origin. Mei-Mei was fairly small for a Chow – and weighed about thirty-five pounds fully grown.
Chow’s get a “bad rap” and are often thought of as aggressive dogs. However, Mei-Mei was the complete opposite. While extremely protective of me, she was more prone to lick someone instead of bite. The only time I ever saw her display aggression was when a somewhat “shady looking character” crossed in front of my car in a parking lot in Tucson. I’m glad she was with me…
At about five years of age, she developed kidney disease. I usually speak kindly of veterinarians, but the one Mei-Mei had at the time just flushed her with fluids and gave her some diuretic pills. I quickly changed vets and read everything I could about canine kidney disease. The vet I changed to helped me by changing Mei-Mei’s diet and taught me how to give her subcutaneous injections of saline (It was like low tech dialysis) at home. I eventually learned how to give her shots of Procrit to treat her anemia as a result of kidney disease.
She was able to live happily for a year.
During Christmas vacation, I drove to my brother’s house near Knoxville, Tennessee. Mei-Mei wasn’t doing well, and I actually had a saline bag hanging from my rear view mirror as she lay in the passenger seat. When we finally arrived, Mei-Mei “crashed.” She wouldn’t eat, drink, or move. My sister-in-law went with me to the vet they used for their dog Zoie. I explained the circumstances to the vet, and what I had done over the past year to treat Mei-Mei. The vet then told me I had taken good care of her, but it was time to let her go. I made the arrangements and left the veterinary office – I wanted to stay and let her go, but just couldn’t. I went into somewhat of a depression.
I’m sure my brother and sister-in-law were concerned about my mental well-being as I just went into their guest bedroom, laid down, and cried. It was two days before Christmas. Strangely enough, the biggest comfort to me was Zoie – my brother’s yellow Labrador Retriever. Zoie would follow me around the house, and when I sat down she would put her head in my lap. It was like she was trying to say, “I’m here.”
I still have a small “altar” in my home with a photo of Mei-Mei, some Día de los Muertos dog candles, and some of her fur in a tin box.
So, why am I telling this story?
Well, it just so happens that my RV-ing friends Annie and Roxi of “The Good Luck Duck” have a new addition to their traveling home on wheels (it could accurately be called a “cat house,” but you’d get the wrong idea) of the canine persuasion. Franklin appears to be a previously deserted/neglected yellow Labrador Retriever who as fate would have it found two loving adoptive “parents.” Franklin reminds me somewhat of my brother’s dog Zoie (who has since gone to the Rainbow Bridge.)
If that weren’t enough, Al of “The Bayfield Bunch” posted about selling his RV and sleeping the the new smaller one at their winter home in Arizona. However, the part that “caught my eye” was his description of his “best friend” Pheebe being able to “appear” in the over-the-cab bed snuggling up beside him when he woke up.
When we travel in my Toyota Dolphin, there’s no way for Cali to “jump into” bed. Therefore, I have to lift her up (she’ll jump down) into bed every night. I “thought” maybe she’d be content to sleep in her dog bed in the front passenger seat. However, after a “few times” getting all snuggled into bed, I’d hear “woof!” I’d then turn on the light and there would be Cali STARING INTENTLY at me until I got out of bed and hoisted her up. Yep, she’s got me trained now!
The point is that I love Cali so very much, but I’ll never forget my beautiful Mei-Mei. She was my first lesson in unconditional love…