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Killer

When my mother, Doris, married my step-father, Tom, she got a man with severe allergies. She couldn’t wear perfume. He couldn’t breathe around it. She had to give up on such things. But my mom loved pets. His allergies also excluded most pets, especially her favorite, cats,  from their home because pet dander caused a terrible reaction in Tom.

My mom discovered Dachshunds. Miniature Doxies were tiny, not as yappy as Poodles, and could be in their home without making Tom sick if bathed once a week. They were small enough for her to wash in the kitchen sink, which was workable for Mom.

Mom and Tom found a local breeder and bought their first Doxie as an 8-week-old puppy. They named her Mitzie. Mitzie satisfied my mother’s love for pets, and she fit right into the household without causing allergic reactions for Tom. A month or so later, Mom and Tom decided to get Mitzie a companion too.  They found another litter of unrelated pups and selected a male this time. He became Fritzie.

My parents had a trailer at Lake Elsinore in a vacation trailer park with many friends who spent weekends at the lake. Mitzie and Fritzie always came along and became the darlings of the park. If either of them wandered too far from Mom and Tom’s space, someone would pick them up, play with them a little, and bring them back to Mom.

Mom decided it would be fun to allow Mitzie and Fritzie to have one litter of puppies before their vet ended their parenthood options. Mitzie and Fritzie were happy to oblige and presented Mom and Tom with a litter of eight puppies.

You know how there’s always that one?  She was a tiny female, the runt of the litter. She would sleep off in the corner of the box while the other seven puppies played. As soon as her siblings went to sleep, she woke up and made it her goal to wake them all up again. As soon as the seven were wide awake and yelling for food, she crawled back to her corner and went to sleep. She was a tiny pest.

Seven of the puppies found new homes quickly when they were old enough to leave their mother. They went in one weekend at the lake. No one particularly wanted the runt. Mom and Tom decided to keep her. That was before my husband and I went over for dinner one night. We had dinner with the family and retired to the living room to watch the Monday Night football game on TV, something my husband never missed.

Sometime during the game, that tiny puppy made herself comfortable in my husband’s lap. She slept through the game and all the commotion it brought in a houseful of people rooting for both sides. When it was time to leave, I begged him to take her home with us. She had already stolen his heart, but he wasn’t about to admit that. He said we didn’t need a puppy and many other arguments against one but finally said, “Okay. But I get to name her.”

He knew another Doxie in a past life. His name was Killer. He thought that dog was the most fun dog he’d ever seen. I would have agreed to anything to get him to bring her home, so I let him name that poor little less-than-a-pound of dog flesh Killer. She rode home that night in his jacket pocket, and she slept in our bed with us forevermore.

After bringing Killer home, I was trying to potty train her. When I saw her squat, I picked her up and rushed her outside to the lawn and set her down, praising her when she did her business where I wanted her to. On day two, I came close to missing her cue, so I flipped her upside down to avoid spills in the house as I rushed her outside. I noticed a suspicious discharge on her external lady parts and panicked. I called the vet. They asked me to bring her right in because she could have an infection that needed treatment.

I rushed Killer to the vet’s office and checked in. On the sign-in sheet, I wrote my name, Victoria Hardesty, and my pet’s name, Killer.  Then we found a seat in the waiting room. That day was big dog day at the vet’s office.  Surrounding us was a Great Dane, a Bull Mastiff, two German Shepherds, a sweet Coon Hound, and a large Golden Retriever. Not one single puppy was in the waiting room except for my girl.

As large dogs went into the exam rooms for their appointments, big dogs arrived to take their place while Killer and I waited to be squeezed in. The Vet Tech always called the name of the dog along with the owner’s last name. I was beginning to dread our turn.

Our turn finally came. The vet tech came to the waiting room doorway and called for “Killer Hardesty.”  With my little less-than-a-pound puppy in one hand, I struggled to my feet while pulling my purse strap over my shoulder, trying hard to avoid the stares of everyone in the room. The Vet tech stared at me. “Killer?” was all she said. The room erupted in laughter. The other dogs apparently agreed and barked along. Pandemonium!

When the doctor finished his exam and prescribed antibiotics for a slight urinary tract infection, he smiled at me. “You made our day, you know! Your “Killer” is sweet enough to put you in a diabetic coma.”

Killer passed away of heart failure at ten. While she was alive, she was a natural killer. She killed unhappiness. She killed loneliness. She killed strife. She killed worry. She killed sleepless nights because she was the best foot-warmer on the planet. It was hard to feel sad with her on your lap. Her name alone introduced me to many happy, fun-loving people. I look forward to seeing her again at Rainbow Bridge.

Victoria Hardesty has owned, bred and shown Arabian Horses for more than 30 years. She and her husband operated their own training facility serving many young people that loved and showed their own horses. She is the author of numerous articles in horse magazines, was the editor of two Arabian Horse Club newsletters, one of which was given the Communications Award of the Year by the Arabian Horse Association at their national convention. An avid reader from childhood, she read every horse story she could get her hands on.

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