Misha, Soulmate and Companion of the Heart

I remember seeing him for the first time at a little log cabin in the quaint town of Sewickly. The house was off the beaten path, tucked into the gorgeous, snowy woods of Pennsylvania. We were greeted first by an entourage of bitches, barking and wagging at the newcomers. There was the matriarch, the eldest but most dignified. And the younger bitches whose pups I had come to see. The puppies were all Cavalier – inquisitive, sweet, a bit shy and obviously lovers. My 13 year old eyes gaped at the small passel of puppies, but the lone tricolor emerged with an unparalleled joie de vivre. He moved with an almost cartoonish animation, skittering across the floor as puppies do from one new face to another. His corybantic behavior and enthusiastic tail made his liquid amber brown eyes and freckled, smiling face all the more endearing. Aquila’s Sunshine’s Daydream, or Misha as I came to call him, wagged his way right into my heart that day.

Of course we were to bring him home as soon as possible. I still vividly remember that car ride. Although I had a seatbelt for him, he was so young and a bit afraid, so instead I held him the whole way home. Actually, I believe it was he who held me. He wrapped his front paws around my neck and put his tiny muzzle on my shoulder and just hugged me. From that moment on, we were inseparable. The world was full of surprises for both of us, but together we met and conquered each challenge. We were both young and rash, but somehow we not only survived, but thrived in each other’s company.

We would travel much of the United States together, exploring each beautiful land side-by-side. We visited relatives in Washington DC less than 3 months after we brought him home. The cherry blossoms were gorgeous that year, pink and full. The winds would carry the giant petaled snowflakes as they gently fell to earth. Misha trotted gaily by my side, savoring each new scent as if it had been gift wrapped and placed just for him. There would be many, many more trips after this first one. We would go as far south as New Orleans, Louisiana and as far north as Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We would hike wherever we went, through gorges, mountains, forest, creek, plain or beach. Misha was spirited and spry, leaping across boulders, plunging through streams, tearing through any trail we traveled.

We not only vacationed in distant areas, but also romped about round our hometown just about everywhere together. He came shopping with me, babysitting, to friend’s and family’s houses and of course to the parks. Perhaps partly because of his ubiquitousness, and undoubtly due in large part to his personality, Misha developed an adoring public wherever he went. You see, as Misha became an adult, he would not show his affections to just anyone. He always presented as calm and regal, with a slight distain to anyone who did not bring him an offering of tasty morsels. He would let anyone pet him of course, but without an offering, he would glare disapprovingly from on high. This behavior served to only make him more comical and lovable at times. People at our most frequented places would always ask after him, or run up to feed or pat him. Be it a crowd full of people or desolate trails, Misha was just happy to be with me, always.

As I grew up, I ended up falling in love with another human and Misha was none too pleased at first. At the beginning, Misha decided that he absolutely did not want to share me. He would glare, and bark and stomp his grinchy feet. When my partner sat on the couch, he would whine until she moved and then promptly take her place. He had always been devious and scheming which would get him what he wanted, but the following is perhaps the ultimate example of his trickery. Whenever my partner would step on him, he would scream something terribly. I would immediately pick him up and coddle him and make my partner give him gentle pets to assuage him. She would absolutely insist that she had not stepped on him, which I found rather odd. This went on for months until I saw her step about a foot away from Misha and he screamed something fierce. But I had seen it, the ruse was up! He had not ever been stepped on at all! After being caught in the act, he never yelped again.

Although he was cunning and deceitful at times, my boy was really quite the love. He never left my side in all my time with him, except perhaps once. Misha, my partner and I went to her childhood home so we could say one last farewell to her childhood dog Wyatt. During the first night without Wyatt, Misha curled right against Gwynne and stayed glued to her for the next 24 hours. He had not done this with anyone before and would not do it again. He knew she needed him, and he offered her all the love he had.

Misha’s great heart was just one of the so many endearing qualities he shared. He was the ultimate companion, not only providing love, but also endless amusement whenever we needed a laugh. He would snore like a freight train at times, stomp on your face to wake you up in the morning if the whining and snorting didn’t work, roll about on the carpet until he had Einstein fur, and my favorite of all was his nesting. Misha would make perfect nests daily to sleep in, his favorite nesting material being clothing. He would drag clothes around with quick scraping motions of his grinchies, then fling them up in the air with his nose, finally moving them delicately with his mouth. He pulled clean clothes off the shelves and dirty clothes out of laundry baskets. We have found underwear flung to the top of a bookcase. But the most hilarious was seeing him wandering around with underwear wrapped around him like some sort of ridiculous clothing. Living with Misha was like having our own live in comedian.

Because Misha came to me when I was just 13 years old, he was by my side through milestones too numerous to count. He was with me through 2 hospitalizations, both of which he visited me at the hospital, learning to drive, first love, coming out, first heartbreak, first apartment and my weddings. He even was the ring bearer at both. The first a local ceremony for family and friends, the second a small legal ceremony on a Massachusetts beach with only Misha, my partner, an officiant friend and a photographer friend. Even aside from the major milestones, we had so much fun together participating in everything from dog showing to volunteering at nursing homes to traveling the country together and I truly realized from the start, how blessed my life was.

Even when he was 13, Misha looked so young and handsome. He could still nearly catch squirrels and bunnies, jump over 4 foot baby gates, scale furniture to get to food and walk for miles with me. I always thought he would live forever. Time is both a blessing and a curse though, giving and taking as it flows. My boy eventually started to slow, just ever so slightly at first. I helped him in any way I could think, cooking him special food, buying him a memory foam bed, building ramps up to the couch and bed and finally putting the mattress on the floor for him. One beautiful fall day when he was 16, he told me he was ready to pass on, if only I had the courage to let him go. My beautiful boy had given me every ounce of himself, so I could not be selfish at the end. He had a two week feast of canned food, fresh cooked lamb, chicken and beef and all sorts of treats. And then his favorite – fast food and pizza. I told him how much he meant to me and how much I loved him. And then we said our final farewells. Although I ache for his soft, silky fur, his soulful brown eyes, his many opinions and so much more, there is a small comfort in knowing that he truly will live forever in my heart.