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Friday, February 11, 2011

WOOF: Dog Tails - Memories of Misty

Continuing WOOF's series, Dog Tails, with Becky Heishman:

Misty was a wormy flea-infested five-week-old refugee from a rural puppy mill in the mountains of Kentucky when we found her in 1994. The minute my eyes met hers, I knew she owned my heart. Her dad was a stunning purebred Pembroke Welsh corgi who had strayed to the puppy mill owner's lovely little purebred female beagle, resulting in a litter of five pups. Through an ad in our regional newspaper, the owner had listed them for sale at $30.00 each in order to, as he so callously put it, 'get rid of them'.

The pups were wallowing in their own feces in a soggy cardboard box on a leaky porch, chilly raindrops pelting their eyes. Their bellies protruded from the worms that engorged them. The air was full of the beautiful steamy-blue Kentucky mountain mist that often rises over the foothills on rainy mornings. That mist had followed us all the way to Kentucky from southern Indiana. We had christened our pup Misty before we got there, long before we'd seen her.

We couldn't wait to get her out of that environment. We paid the man and hurried home. We were thrilled to learn that immediately after we left the puppy mill, local authorities had raided it and closed it down for good.

Misty grew into a healthy golden-haired beauty with a great sense of humor. She was a jokester, a prankster, and a clown, and she actually wore a smile on her face most of the time. She radiated warmth. She loved people, popcorn, running fast, sniffing, chasing squirrels, chewing up my socks, watching the Animal Channel, and me.

I learned the extent of her devotion when I was stricken in 2002 by a brutal two-year relapse of multiple sclerosis that forced me to bed. That relapse was to disable me until remission came in 2004. When I became ill, Misty resolutely planted herself firmly at my bedside, where she would remain for the next two years. My husband William would have to make her leave me to go to the kitchen to eat. She would eat quickly, then return immediately to watch over me.

Depression stalked me during those days, and there were times when I didn't care if I died, and I actually hoped I would. I contemplated suicide, as I was beginning to feel like a burden to my husband. I wanted better days for him. When I would hit emotional rock-bottom, I would catch myself peering over the edge of the bed into those brown eyes that were looking with such adoration straight into my soul. And I realized I had to go on. I had to live to take care of this precious dog who was devoting her life to taking care of me. She needed me.

Misty lived to the stately age of sixteen years. The last three years of her life, she struggled with the indignities of kidney failure. Even our veterinarian who had cared for her since her puppy days was puzzled as to how a dog so sick could go on living and remain so active when, according to blood work done to measure her kidney function, she shouldn't be alive. I told her I knew the answer to that question. I told her that Misty was living for me.

Then came that day when the light went out of those loving eyes. She looked at me and I knew she had made the decision for me. That was like her to take the responsibility for choosing the day she must leave. She wanted to spare me the heartache of that decision by making the decision herself. She was too sick to go on, and she knew it. We had been there for one another in the tough times. Today would be no different. I knew what I had to do. I had to free her from that broken body. I had to help her die.

I cradled the beloved head in my hands as the drugs raced through her veins on their way to stop her heart. I told her I loved her. And I thanked her for being there for me during my illness, and for making me want to live. She gave me one of her knowing looks, kissed my hand one last time, and left me.

There's not a day goes by that I don't think of her. She lives, happy, healthy, and whole, right here in my heart, where she will always stay. And I know there will be a sweet reunion on that blessed day when I get to Rainbow Bridge and look off in the distance to see my golden girl with big brown eyes, bright and shining again, looking back at me. On that day, I'll know that I'm finally home to stay.

Becky Heishman

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Submission guidelines for:
"Dog Tails:
Stories About Women & Their Best Tail-Wagging Friends”

How to tell your story:
Whether your special canine buddy is still with you or not, we’re looking for nonfiction stories told in first person with action, dialogue and an emotional pivotal ending. Make readers laugh, cry, get chills!

How not to tell your story:
Stories should not be political in nature or preachy. We want original, unpublished stories that are 400 words or less.

How to submit your story:
A Word document e-mailed to

(Remember to save a copy for yourself!)

How to submit your picture:
Jpeg or Gif submitted to


Anonymous said...

beauitful tail of memories of misty .felt she was a beauitful companion 2 mum xxthought both of their illness keep one other going thought their live .wonderfull memories 2 have xx

Regan Black said...

What a loving and marvelous story of companionship. Misty was obviously a wonderful blessing.


Mary Cunningham said...

She was a blessing! I followed Becky's story of Misty's illness on facebook. If you haven't "friended" Misty the Dog and friends, you should.

Becky's new rescue, Millie, is a hoot!!