Millie, our family dog:
Millie is a farm dog, born on a cattle farm in Twin Falls, Idaho belonging to the family of my cousin Jason’s wife. The first time I saw her, I was in 6th grade, and my family and I had trekked down there to watch Jason graduation for Twin Falls Academy. I went with the boys out the farm to help a cow give birth to a calf. That was definitely the most blood I had ever seen. And definitely the whitest my face had been. I just loved the farm life tho. I dreamed of having one some day. Jason and I waited until dark and hopped on the quad and blasted thru the fields and mud-pits and came back soaked. We got yelled at, of course. But that sure was fun. I remember that day, see about 10 puppies running around the grounds of the barn. I don’t think I paid them much attention, but did ask my parents later that week if we could take a puppy home. We had just lost our “family” dog, an 18 year old wiener dog that my mom got straight off Noah’s ark (that dog seemed ancient). We were all very sad, and we had talked about getting a new puppy to kind of help in the healing process. I also shared with my mom that most of the puppies would be killed that week because the farmer didn’t want to have an abundance of puppies running around and not many people wanted “farm” dogs.
A farm dog, by my definition, is a dog in which the breed is unknown. We had heard that the mom was an Australian Blue Heeler, and the dad was a Cocker Spaniel, but on the farm, anything goes. Either way, the cute little puppies weren’t going to live that long.
Graduation week came and passed, and we piled into the truck and camper, heading home, with no puppy. I was sad, but quickly forgot about it of course cause I had the attention span of a Spaniel. Probably a week or two later, we headed over to see my grandparents, who also had headed down to the graduation, but did an extended stay to see my relatives. It was the middle of June, and we were all hanging out in the grandparent’s backyard which I spent the majority of my summers growing up. I was sitting in the shade on the west side of the property by the big arbor under a birch tree enjoying the shade, when around the corner comes rocketing a black little furball of a puppy cuter than a lady bug’s toot. My grin stretch from north to south as I opened up my arms and welcomed my new little friend into my embrace. Man was I happy. We all were happy. It took me a while to realize it was even ours to keep. But my grandparents got the call from my parents that they were to pick out a puppy and bring it home for Jeffrey and Heidi.
I was nice enough to let my sister name Millie, but I should have known better as Millie got named after a Barbie doll. I didn’t care tho, cause I loved her. For the next 15 years, all our lives became adjusted around Millee. And the memories run a hundred miles long. She definitely aged pretty hard in the last few years since her accident. But she still had the energy to run around, chase animals and her little ticker kept on ticking. Rusty joined the family a little over a year ago and probably helped keep her alive with his constant energy and activity. The last time I saw her, April 12th, I honestly first thought she was dead on her pillow. But sure enough, like every other day in the last 15 years, she crawled out of her bed and stretched out and got her chops ready for a milk-bone, which most likely wouldn’t hit the floor for hours. She was always ready.
Its amazing the memories that you have of a dog for 15 years, and I will try and share some of the more interesting ones. There are a lot. I believe, as everyone else does that knew Millie, that she was no ordinary dog. She lived a more interesting and eventful life than most humans, and definitely more than any other dog I knew.
Millie was kind of like a cat, in that it seemed like she had nine lives. She was ALWAYS almost getting killed, or breaking body parts, defying gravity and all odds.
– First, when she was a puppy, my grandpa, who was then about 6’2 and a pretty stalky fella, stepped on her little tail and broke it! Ouch. I didn’t know you could break a tail that was always wagging so fast, but sure enough, it was broke. It healed up pretty fast, but the onslaught of painful and humorous experiences had just began.
– We were camping on the Columbia River with the Gunstone family. All the adults were sleeping in the boat which was about 150 yards off shore, and all the kids were tent camping on the beach. Millie decided that around dusk, she was done hanging out on the boat. So she jumped on in the river, which has a fairly decent current, and took her sweet old time swimming all the way to shore. By the time she reached shore. She had drifted several hundred yards down the river, but we were on a pretty big island.
– For the better part of her life, Millie slept in the garage at night and during the day when were were all gone at work or school. Whenever the first person got home and opened the garage door, she would bolt outta there like lightening and up onto the lawn, as if she was being tortured with animals making noises all day and she was ready to ripped their heads off. So one night we got home fairly late, and she came rippin’ out of the garage and out into the dark evening. Within seconds were heard the most deafening howling and screaming, coming from Millie. It sounds as if a bobcat was waiting for her and just went to town on her. We quickly pulled out flashlights and went looking for her. She was laying on the grass in severe pain. in her chest. She has lost a massive clump of hair on her chest, and was bleeding. We quickly took her down to a late-night veterinarian (sketchy place), and had her checked out. She checked out fine and we took her home. She was back to her normal psychotic happy self in a few days. We were up on the lawn later that week and happened to see a huge chunk of her hair stuck to the top of the horse-shoe pit stake. She had run full speed blindly at night straight into a VERY sturdy horseshoe stake. There has been a street cone sitting on that stake now for years.
– My dad loved taking her up into the hills camping and hiking, which we had always done as long as she lived. She was the typical stick-my-tongue-and-ears-out-the-window-in-the-car-until-my-tongue-is-rock-hard-and-try-and-eat-the-wind kind of dog. She was in the passenger seat of the Subaru headed up 410 HWY for Mt. Rainier when she must have seen a squirrel and in her dog brain yelled “Squirrel” like in the movies, and jumped right out the window, going 40 mph down the highway. And like always, she barrel rolled herself thru and hopped right back into the car! Fully true story.
– For the majority of her life, Millie has suffered from a wide range of seizures. They truly are a horrific sight to watch and we always felt so hopeless when she was having them. Some were worse then others. We eventually attributed them to her consumption of “human” food. After we stopped her from eating table scraps, which we all know you have given to your dog, her seizures ceased for the most part. She would have some intermittently which meant she had found a chocolate stash or brought a rat home or something. She had one seizure that was worth remembering though. Usually she would start seizing while laying down and she would just sort of ride it out. But if she was standing, walking or running, it was never good. This particular time, she was upstairs in the hallway and started a seizure and took off running. she turned the corner towards the stairs and leaped down an entire flight of stairs, 8 wooden steps, and the first thing to contact was her head and the leg of a solid, designer table. She snapped the leg of that table right off. And THEN, got right up and started running straight at the brick fireplace. Thankfully we stopped her because I don’t think she would have won that battle. She soon recovered, but the table was later named tripod… possibly a sign of things to come.
– Sometime last summer I was standing in the garage with Millie and Rusty enjoying the summer sun and heat. Now, neither one of these dogs are really bright, especially when it comes to chasing cars. Rusty I could usually contain cause he hasn’t lost his hearing. But Millie, over the last several years has lost almost all her hearing and the majority of her vision. But she knew a car when she heard one and ran right towards the truck coming down the driveway. She couldn’t see exactly where she was, and didn’t hear us screaming, and plopped down right in front of the front wheel, which then went right over the top of her. I thought for sure she had met her match. She let out the worst yell ever and came crawling after us as we went sprinting after her. We took her inside and started checking her out. She did what she normally did when she was distraught and went behind the couch for several hours. The next morning, it was as if a thousand pounds hadn’t driven over her the day before.
– Millie was afraid of no ONE or no THING. And by thing I mean, monsters, aliens, muskrats, raccoons, Goliath… She really was afraid of nothing. She would get assaulted, harassed and beat up by neighborhood dogs, but it was only cause she was little. But she sure had a big fight in her. Try and come within 50 country acres of her bowl of food and she’d darn near rip your arm off and beat you with it to teach you a lesson. Either way, she was a fierce little puppy. She loved going to Lake Chelan with us. The cabin we stay at is very old and rustic with many smells and rodents and things to terrorize, which she was good at. Her night owl instincts would come out in full force as she would tear into the night and chase poor little varmints around the lake until they tossed out a white flag… Until one night, she came running thru the front door of the cabin as fast as lighting with her tail between her leg and a yelp of sheer terror. At first, my mom, sister, and Alise had no clue what had happened, until the entire cabin filled with the deathly pungent aroma of skunk… coming straight from Millie. Yup, she found her match, and most definitely lost. I was driving over late that night and spent the majority of the drive looking on my phone on how to remove the sting and smell of a skunk spray from a dog. She will never be stinking her nose up that tail ever again.
– My cousin and I were racing around Chelan on a rented jet-ski like we stole, launching off the 8 foot wake of the Lady of the Lake. We were having a good old time. We headed over to the dock to load up his little daughter and take her out for a spin. We loaded her up and were sitting on the jet-ski waiting to head back out when Millie got the hair-brained idea that she was going to. She took a sprinting leap from the dock, cleared about 7 feet of water and slammed face-first into the side of the jet-ski and was under water as fast as you could look. Stunned, she made her way back to the dock, which she couldn’t get out of, and stunned from the massive blow to the head, managed to trap herself under the dock, unable to get out. We launched yet another Millie rescue party and got her out.
– Millie successfully devoured an ENTIRE package of raw bacon, which she pulled off the kitchen counter. Needless to say the seizures were extra strong and the breath was deathly. She survived.
– I save the best for last. A story of courage, pain, survival and much unbelievability. This story again includes her adventurous spirit and her night owl instincts. I remember coming home late one evening around 11pm. it was probably a weekend, and, well, when you live in the country, interesting things happen in the evening. I hear a party going on a few houses North of us which was pretty normal from that property. I heard loud music, fireworks, gunshots and yelling. Normal. I didn’t think anything of it and headed straight to bed. I got a call in the middle of the next day that Millie was no where to be found. I thought that was unusual, but not odd. The night before, she had headed out around 9, which we later decided her curfew was dusk. I am sure she was out just wondering around looking for some rodent to pester. She wondered thru the neighbors properties down the hill to the party scene. Not sure why she wanted to go in that direction because fireworks and the vacuum freaked her out to the point of whizzing all over the designer carpet. But that night she was intrigued. She was old, but probably still had a little party left in her and just wanted to let loose that night. We aren’t sure if she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was a moving target for a bunch of drunken idiots… But she took one for the team; a bullet right in the butt. I got a second call later the day after saying that Millie had been hit by a car and was being taken to doggy Harborview. She had somehow managed to drag her back-end up two property lines and barely made it into our next-door neighbor’s garage. She was bleeding all over the place, but somehow had stayed alive. She was 10. Our neighbor Lauri happened to see her on her way to work and called the house. No one really knew what had happened, but knew she was in a world of hurt and had lost a lot of blood. She went into a pretty heavy surgery in which they were going to try to fix the busted leg and fix her up. During the extremely expensive surgery, the doctor realized she had been shot in the rear and her right rear leg tendon was severed. The only decent option was to lop the leg off, stitch her up and she would adjust. No one thought a dog her age could recover from something like that and live on three legs. Not only did she do that, but she did it well. She was nearly back to normal in just a mere 30 days, and was still full of life and energy and craziness. She used to be able to jump extremely high with all her legs, she was now a pogo and she could still jump high with one leg. She became the most nicknamed dog on the plant… Tripod, Three-leg, Cripple, Insufficient, Pogo Stick, Hobble-A-Long, Cone Head (she had to wear a cone for a month and ran into every wall she could find). It was as if she didn’t miss a beat even tho she missed a leg. She would still walk all day, sprint at times. Her spine and back leg adjusted, and despite her leg shaking profusely from muscle spasms, she kept on tickin’… for 5 more years.
We all loved Millie and will miss her constant spirit and joy. She is a reminder that even the small things in life, God cares. And no matter how long we live, life is fragile and can go as quickly and un-expectantly as it arrives.
Thank you for the good years you shared with us, Millie.
She was known for:
Always freaking out when I came home
Pretending to quickly go potty in the morning so she could hurry in a get her breakfast
Not really chewing her food, but more just swallowing her food
When we camped in the woods, she would bury her head under the water and run straight up river until all her energy was totally spent
Her breath smelled like satanic fish guts
Being able to jump almost 5 feet high, but usually only if there was food involved
The fastest dog I had ever seen; she could actually catch a rabbit.
Im pretty sure she ripped the head off many a chicken in her day… sorry neighbor!
Always licking the dishwasher when it was open, and the kitchen floor when the dishwasher wasn’t available
Being able to rollover a dozen times for one doggy treat
She loved sleeping under the covers of the bed
Her bark was absolutely hideous, which most of the women hated, which of course meant I would try and get her to bark
Getting all riled up and digging her sharp claws into your arms, leaving red scrapes a yard long
Humping Ryan Fredericks leg in 9th grade
She was always kind of the motherly figure, always annoyed by other dogs, mostly just focused on when the next meal was
She loved to bask in the hot summer rays on the back deck in the mornings
When she was bored, which was often, she would go in and out of the house a dozen times in one hour, making us open the door for her every time
She was always lady-like in when she was chillin’ on the floor, she would cross her right paw over her left
She understands half of the english language
We would keep her inside for hours while we went out and played and didn’t want her to follow, but even hours later, she would get out and somehow find us
There is a restaurant in S. Cal called Millie’s
Millie was alive for:
Dozens of camping trips
My first girlfriend
High school graduation
Winning the state championship in the 4 by 1
My first job
The mariners finally making it to the playoffs
Trips to the San Juans, Oregon Coast, several Chelan trips, Bend, boat trips
The release of the flatscreen tv and iphone
the adoption of Rusty