“Momo” was mom’s rescue poodle. He had the compact size, creamy apricot color and curly texture of a boutique-quality toy.
He acted slightly less neurotic than Teddy, mom’s previous rescue, a terrier mix who pawed and whined as if he’d be alone forever. Momo was obedient, self-sufficient and had a cute, liver-colored nose.
The day he sprang two feet into the air and bit my thigh through my pants I re-named Momo “Snippy von Asshole”. Mom was really sick with cancer, which I’m pretty sure he’d figured out, and taking one step too close to her bed was enough to transform him into a sneering ball of teeth, whether I was a blood relative or not.
Snippy ended up in the paper a few months later – well, in the obit section of the New York Times, as in “survived by her beloved poodle, Momo,” after mom died.
Immediately before that, my sister-in-law and brother had been looking after both of them in their home, a selfless and deeply arduous task. My mother’s mood swings were intensely difficult to endure even in perfect health.
Snippy von A., apparently in solidarity with mom’s worsening discomfort, snarled at any approach and bit every single family member, completely misinterpreting his role as guardian/lap dog.
Mom usually felt alone and disconnected from people, so it wasn’t surprising that he wouldn’t recognize us as helpful.
Then Snippy, re-named Max to give him a fresh start, was accidentally run over by the next-door-neighbor’s SUV and ultimately had one rear leg amputated.
Sukie the lab mix got Lyme disease, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, Willow the gray cat continued to throw up from a sensitive tummy, and my brother and I battled depression. It was a rough year for everyone.
Time has passed.
And after mom passed, Max officially joined my brother’s four pussycat and two dog home.
A much-needed trip to the vet resulted in a tooth extraction; it was a front tooth, so he became the hillbilly poodle of Westchester.
Max is no longer in pain, either from the missing tooth, the car accident or from having to defend a sick mommy – and I had the opportunity to pet sit the whole brood for a week.
I kept Max near me all the time, which helped calm his nervy little nerves. He just needed a little encouragement, like the rest of us.