Mar 25, 2005, 12:45am
An Ode to Mitzy, in Three Parts
Even before I moved in with Jeanette, way back in the early 1990s, I talked to her about how I wanted to get a dog. I'd grown up always having a dog, and even though I was only living in Vancouver for a short time at that point, I felt almost naked, almost as if something was missing by not having a dog.
Jeanette wasn't too keen on the idea at first, but did like the idea, and did seem to grow on it. She just wasn't sure she was allowed to have a dog in her basement two bedroom suite. I thought it would be no problem, as the main floor tenants had a dog; but (and showing a state of things to come) the landlord said no to her when she brought it up.
I moved during a sunny May day, and for the next week or two, I talked about a dog. Getting one. Finding the perfect canine companion. Getting a dog that would outdo all other dogs in terms of cuddliness, cuteness, intelligence, and companionship. I guess it wore Jeanette's resistance down (and the fact that she didn't like to break rules) because one day, I suggested she stop by the SPCA to check out what they had...
And she came home with Mitzy.
Mitzy's story was one of those "scratch your head" ones. She was a five year old toy poodle with some border collie in her. She was this amazing little bundle - mature, but still extremely playful and even mischievous. She was beautiful beyond belief. And she was only one day away from euthanisation - this was when the Vancouver SPCA was still euthanising dogs when they were in the pound for too long.
As Jeanette tells the story, she was walking down the rows of kennels at the SPCA, and all the dogs were going ballistic - barking, running around in circles, jumping, hopping, saying "Take me! Take me!" in the ways dogs do at the pound. But she came to one cage, and no sounds... she looked, and there was this little fifteen pound bundle of black curls and wagging tail, sitting attentively, looking at Jeanette intelligently.
For Jeanette, it was love at first sight.
And she brought Mitzy home that day, even without checking with me first, or phoning, or anything.
And when I saw her and Mitzy, it was love at first sight for me too. And I thought at that moment this was one of the most amazing things Jeanette could have ever done. We had our dog.
We had Mitzy in the basement suite for a year or so, when our landlord, poster child for scummy landlords, pulled a surprise inspection, giving us about a half hour's notice.
Problem is, we had a dog. A quiet, intelligent dog that didn't even bark in the first three years we owned her (seriously! We actually got worried that she couldn't bark!). A dog that made a grand total of one mess in our basement suite in that one year, and showed such amazing guilt over the act, she was almost human.
And our landlord nixed us having a dog. Even though he allowed the upstairs woman to have one (the woman was quite stunning in her beauty, which did have a lot to do with the decision, but that's another story).
He showed up one day and said "I need to take a look at the apartment." I said he'd have to wait until we cleaned up a bit. And we panicked. What to do about Mitzy? Being young and nervous, we didn't know what to do because the landlord was in the back yard, where our door was. Then we came up with the idea to smuggle Mitzy out the bedroom window in a bag. The landlord hadn't seen Jeanette, so the idea was, she'd take the dog out, walk down the street with her in the case, and if the landlord saw her, she'd act like she was just arriving (we didn't think about what to do after that though, if that happened!).
And that's what we did. We put Mitzy in a small suitcase. I was worried she'd freak out being sealed up in it even for such a brief period, but you know what? She seemed to sense that there was this covert thing going on where silence was needed (the landlord was literally 10 feet away from the side window!) so she went into the bag and remained quiet.
Jeanette climbed out of the window as quietly as possible, and I passed the bag to her. The plan was, she'd walk around the corner of the house, take Mitzy out, go to the Starbucks at W. Broadway and Basewater, and wait for an hour. This was pre-cell phone days, so she'd cautiously check to see if the landlord's van was gone before coming back home.
The entire time, Mitzy was calm, collective, and accepted her fate. She was so intelligent (probably more than her owners!) that she really seemed to know what was going on, and maybe even enjoyed the covert action.
Jeanette and Mitzy got away, the landlord did the inspection and left. Mitzy and Jeanette came back soon later, and for a while yet, we had our pooch, safe and sound.
Teddy and Mitzy
There were times where the two dogs would pose and look nice for the camera...
Mitzy was a spayed female, but she thought she was male at times, and would sometimes hump Jeanette's knee when Jeanette was sleeping in bed. It was always funny for me to see, something to walk in on - Jeanette, snoozing away, and Mitzy going to town. Crazy dog.
As she got along in years, and after Teddy was introduced to our house, the two of them "tolerated" each other, at best. When Mitzy could still see, she was the boss of Teddy and he didn't like that. But as Mitzy lost her sight, Teddy would sometimes snap and nip at her if she blindly stumbled near him. I often wished that Teddy and Mitzy would appreciate each other more. Then one day, it happened.
Teddy had a love for being under blankets, but not for too long. He loved the feel of material above him, around him, and I think he liked the darkness. It made him playful.
Mitzy... well, she still liked her humping activities - always on Jeanette's knee or lower leg.
One day, Jeanette was playing with Teddy, letting him roam under the bed blanket, and Mitzy hopped up on the bed. She was blind, but still knew the routine and height to jump up. She stumbled around, and found this lump on the bed... not what she thought it was though. Instead of being Jeanette's knee, it was Tedster himself. But she didn't care - nope, she started gripping the sides of the blanketed Teddy, and started wailing away.
Jeanette was witness to this first time - and was laughing so hard, she was hyperventilating and having difficulty breathing. By the time Mitzy was done, she had this super satisfied look on her face, and was panting and happy-like. Jeanette pulled back the blanket, and out came Ted, all super happy and wanting more of this weird, mysterious bumping!
We finely found a way for Ted and Mitz to get along!
The Ode Concludes
Yesterday, we had to say goodbye to our dear Mitzy. We had to hold her and caress her one last time as she was sedated, then euthanised. She was 18 years old. As Beata said to me, it takes an exceptional kind of care, attention and a loving home for a dog to live that long. And you know what? She's right.
We were blessed the day we were given Mitzy - the smartest, most intelligent and compassionate dog I've ever had the pleasure of knowing in my life. She blessed my life, Jeanette's life, and the lives of every person who's had the chance to meet her, play with her, enjoy her company.
For the last few years, Mitzy's light, Mitzy's star was fading. Blindness, deafness, skin problems, arthritis, all were setting in. In the last few months, there was no more quality of life for her, and while she's always been a fighter, her good fight was all but done.
Jeanette and I were with her in her last moments. Just as we were with Teddy in his last moments, almost exactly six months ago. My hope is now, Teddy and Mitzy are together again, and this time, genuinely enjoying each other's company, waiting for their owners to come and see them again.
I'll miss you Mitzy. But I also want to thank you for making my life so rich during my time with you.
Mitzy and Hamster
For a while, Jeanette had a hamster (Joxter), and Mitzy was sooooo fascinated with it...
Mitzy was so smart, we actually got her to "train" Teddy to do tricks. Here Jeanette is working with both dogs.
Yes, this was staged. No, actually it wasn't. Or maybe it was.
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Photos from Algonquin Park
Photos from my trip to Algonquin Park this fall with my Mom and two brothers.
Making Snow for the Fortress
One of the worst jobs I ever had... till I got out.
Tools I Use
The tools I use to build websites and lead a tech life.
iPod and iTunes Offline
iMark's iTunes and iPod isn't iPlaying anything right iNow.
Most Recent Songs
Fiddlers Green by The Tragically Hip
Around The Bend by Pearl Jam
Here With Me (Rollo's Chillin' With the Family Mix) by Dido
With arms open wide by Creed
truffle pigs by Matthew Good Band
In the News
Burundi and Beyond - NY Times
Great article by Peter Meehan - provided some background.
St. Petersburg Times
Side mention in an article about good machines
AP Story on Espresso
Background and information provided
NY Times - Grinders Article
Especially proud of this one - got the reporter to focus on grinders
Globe and Mail
LOL - showing bad reporting, dude says I'm an American-based site!
The Olympian, WA
Talks about my love for the El Sal Siberia Pacamara
Seattle Times - Clover
Interviewed for comments on the Clover brewer
NY Times - How it Works
Background and information for various espresso machines
Time Mag Article
Just a brief mention, article about roasting beans.
Front page article about consumers getting into specialty coffee.
Quoted reference to what I wrote in an article at CoffeeGeek.
USA Today - Barista Jam
Intereviewed for my thoughts on what the epitome of espresso is.
The Wall Street Journal has interviewed me 3 times. This is the first time my name got in a story.
Interview with Reuters, Jan 2 - this is the USA Today version.
My Other Stuff
Launched Dec 22, 2001, this is THE online community for espresso and coffee fanatics.
It's all new, as of March, 2002. My personal coffee obsession site.
My company's site - needs an update!
Hey, if you feel the need to buy me something, check here!
Great gadget site run by the guy who used to do Gizmodo.
This is how I get my daily news fix.
The most active forums for digital photography online today.
Need my Daily Zen fix!
A blog about car stuff. Vroom Vroom.
An industrial design blog. Very cool stuff.
Friends and Family Plan
Beata's got her own blog! She updates it most days.
Riddla on Flickr
Matt Riddle's flickr account, updated regularly
Irdy, my friend from Jakharta, on Flickr
Canon EF 24-105 f4 L Lens
The best lens I've ever owned. Super sharp and quick.
A full frame dSLR, with luscious colour reproduction.
Alzo Digital Lights
Some amazing florescent cold lights for product photography
Canon Xsi dSLR
Amazing technology and image quality in a tiny package.
Latest prosumer camera from Canon - a much better upgrade than the 30D
Great 2.2lb computer that does most of my travel / writing needs
28mm f1.8 Lens
A great lens for closeup work and full picture photography
Finally got the right tools for freezing green coffee.
Canon 50mm 1.4
Most amazing lens I've ever owned. Produces stellar photos.
Super wide angle (full frame fisheye) zoom for my Canon 20D