This post is incredibly difficult to write, and I never expected to have to write it so soon, or that it would be so hard when the time came. That’s the thing about pets, though, they find the spaces in our hearts that are too small for humans, and they curl themselves up there and fill our lives with goofiness and sweetness for the time they’re with us. This week, my mom’s dog Mahlai had to be put down. She was (only) nine, and one of the cutest, most wonderful pups I’ve ever known. She was also one of the littlest; seriously, we didn’t call her a peanut for nothing. But it’s like Shakespeare wrote, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” She was 10lbs soaking wet, but she kept everybody in line (Fitz was too much of a wildcard for her). When my old pug would barrel into her, she’d grab his neck fact with her teeny little crooked teeth and yank. She’d perch on the sofa and scowl at the shenanigans my mom’s other dog, Sookie, would get up to (I don’t call her “Sookie Monster” for nothing). She had the shortest legs, so when Sookie would inevitably beat her to whatever toy someone threw for them to retrieve, Mahlai would growl to back her up and, deciding her work here was finished, leave the toy and walk away. She was far too dignified for nonsense.
My mom got her as a puppy the summer before my senior year of high school, after my childhood Shih Tzu, Chelsea, passed away. Knowing I’d be going off to college, my mom wanted to make sure she had a companion. Enter Mahlai (pronounced like the “Dahlai Lama” but with an ‘m’, so basically “Molly,” but not, and don’t let my mom hear you say that that’s an acceptable way to spell it). She was the perfect lap dog and was never required to do anything but be adorable and tiny. She never learned a single trick besides how to “sing”: she’d throw her tiny head back and howl this beautiful, raspy little sonata. Oh, well I guess there’s also the weird trick she only did with me, too: If she was sitting on my lap facing me, I could tilt my head back, then bring it back down and look at her, and she’d tilt her head back. We could do this for hours. I don’t know how we even figured that one out, but it cracked me up every time.
She sneezed a bunch, was afraid of fast-moving objects, the opening of trash bags, and she hated those damn squirrels that kept running on the power lines in our backyard. She liked low-fat American cheese slices, neck scratches, snoring, loved her Valentine’s Day Garfield toy with heart-shaped wings the most, and wouldn’t eat her food if it was over a day old. She was happiest being loved and doted on, but sometimes she wanted you to just leave her alone already, didn’t you see she was trying to sleep?
Did I mention she was freaking adorable? Because she was!
Look at her, tolerating her bully of a younger sister so calmly!
Every Christmas, I received a present “from Mahlai.” I’m sad she won’t be signing my cards this year, or wearing her little Hanukkah sweater, or generally being cute and tiny the rest of the year through. She isn’t hurting anymore, though, and that’s making it bearable. For me. Less so for my mom or for Sookie, who surprisingly (un-surprisingly?) has been so, so sad over losing her best friend. I like to think Mahlai is busy getting to know Chelsea, and that the two of them are happily annoying my dad by breathing on him (his official party stance was that he hated dogs, but we knew better). That’s what they do, right? They go to a better place, without pain, and with all the American cheese they could ever want.
Rest in peace, sweet girl. We all miss you and love you very much.