Hello, my name is Mica, and I am a Belgian Malinois. My human has graciously allowed me to shove her out of the way and take my place at the keyboard. She writes this blog every now and then, but I impressed upon her my need to communicate with the human world and she relented.
My full name is MicaPie Cancerpaws. I used to be Crankypaws but ever since the human found out that I have mast cell cancer, she has changed my last name. She says something about the new name helping her deal with her denial. My name for her is Aroowoo Woof, which translates roughly into English as “the bossy, nagging, emotional female human who is annoying but loves me.” My 18 year old human sister is gifted in foreign languages, so she helped me with the translation.
According to human medicine, I’m pretty sick. I had surgery this week to remove a tumor but according to the veterinarian this isn’t going to “cure” me. That’s ok, I guess we all have to move on at some point and for some reason. Looks like sooner rather than later and courtesy of this cancer will be the terms of my exit. So be it.
While I’m here, though I need to talk about my life and share with the human world a little about me and where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, and what my experience of you humans has been like. Although I’m going to die soon, humans have stepped in and saved my life a bunch of times already. I’m not exactly grateful, just like I’m not exactly upset that I’m dying. I kind of just take what’s coming at me, good, bad, or indifferent. I guess I’m a philosophical kind of dog. But I do think my story is worth telling, if it helps other rescuers keep going, doing good things for other dogs, or if it makes humans happy to know that in the end I get to rest on some soft beds and gorge out on delicious chicken feet. I don’t understand why, but it seems like humans are interested in me now, and the humans that my foster mom knows seem to care about me. That’s pretty strange but I guess I can oblige by sharing my life a little, while I’m still here.
The first human to save my life was a person who posted my picture on the internet and let Tracey, the female human in charge of malinois rescue in Kentucky, know that I was in a shelter. Every dog that has ever been in shelter knows that there is a room in those places where dogs go in but they don’t come out. I landed in a shelter at 11 years of age, so I would have been on the short list for that room if it weren’t for this human making sure people knew I was there.
Tracey made sure I could come into rescue, which again, given my age, was no mean feat. I think it helped that two other humans, Brydon and my foster mom, wanted to help me and stepped up right away, telling Tracey that I would have a safe place to go if I left the shelter.
The next time a human saved my life was when Brydon, a super great female human in Kentucky, made sure that I got to leave the shelter and go to her house. Holy pigs ears, were there a lot of dogs at her house!!! It was fun. I ran and barked and rolled in grass and jumped on Brydon’s couches. Lots of times. When Brydon first spoke to my foster mom about me, she said “Look out. The furniture is hers.”
So many different people helped me get out of Kentucky, I don’t remember all their names. I got to sleep over at Julie’s house and she gave me a bath! That was the first time a human ever cared enough about how I smelled to help me get clean instead of just putting me outside.
Before the shelter, before rescue, I had a family. They tied me up outside. I lived on the end of a tether in the yard for 11 years. I chewed my chain so much I wore my teeth down to flattened nubs. I got harassed by animals and mean human children. I got scared by snakes and spiders, until I got meaner than any snake or spider could ever be. I got so bored and frustrated I wanted to do anything at all except be stuck there on the end of that chain for one more day. My family had another dog that got to live in their house. I’ll admit it: I was jealous and I was cranky and I was not nice to that dog. It was very small and a tad cranky to me too. I wasn’t allowed near it and it got to stay in the house.
I really loved my dad. He was nicer to me than anyone else. I wanted him to come back and get me from the shelter but he never did. I wanted him to pick me up at Brydon’s house, or when she took me fun places, but he never did. When I finally got to my foster house, I was amazed. A new dad!!! It was like chicken feet and turkey necks and dead deer all wrapped up in poop! My sister says you guys won’t understand that – so let me rephrase: I was really happy. Aroowoo’s mate, my new foster dad, asked me to jump up that first day and I had no idea what he wanted or what he meant when he patted his chest, but I figured I had better give him everything I got – so I launched myself into his arms just like a Pomeranian would have. He loved it. Mission accomplished. I had a new dad.
In the beginning of living at my foster folks’ house, I was really confused. It was like there was all this freedom, but also all these rules. And the freedom was awesome, but I didn’t know the boundaries. Yes, I can be loose in the house, but no, I can’t get on the couch. Who makes stupid rules like that? Yes, I can get petted if I want, but no I can’t bite the other dogs if they get petted standing next to me. What? For a while I just shut down. I wouldn’t look at the humans, and I didn’t really listen to them. I walked away if they tried to touch me. I just couldn’t deal with it all. I growled at Iske, Lily, and Cinder, who are really pretty good sisters to have around. I bit them too. Good thing I barely have any teeth, or things could have gotten ugly. I was mourning my family because even though they tied me outside all alone for 11 years, they were the only family I knew and deep down I really missed them. I felt all mixed up inside and so lost. It was really hard for a while.
Then Aroowoo talked to another human named Lisa who taught her how to do a better job communicating with me. She told her about “engagement” which I honestly think is a little stupid, but it works. Aroowoo was really patient and just waited for me to do things her way when I was ready. I started looking at her for permission and support, and she was always there for me. Then I started listening.
Along the way I met some fantastic people. Aroowoo took me hiking on the Devil’s Path with the forest ranger. She was so nice, she held my leash and picked me up when I need help getting over a huge rocky ledge. Then she picked up my foster sister, Cinder!!! That was so funny.
I met the entire executive committee of the hiking club when they came to my house for their meeting. They all smelled great.
I reached a point where I was being so good at home, Aroowoo started taking me with her to go to the woods. And then things seemed to just click: I listened and obeyed humans better in the woods than at home. It’s easy to do what they want when I’m so happy. They’re like “hey, come over here” and I’m like “ok, over here, over there – it’s all good” because I’m loose and free. The smells in the woods are fantastic, there is deer poop everywhere (humans, imagine walking through a forest where there are doughnuts just scattered around on the forest floor every few feet), and squirrels and chipmunks everywhere (humans, think bacon, growing on trees). One time my sister Iske killed a chipmunk and gave it to me. A present! For me! I was so happy I couldn’t eat the whole thing so I shared it with Cinder. Lily didn’t want any.
But then a bad thing happened: my dad took me into the woods and I tried to kill a bad animal. I bit it and it stung my mouth really badly, so I tried to stomp it to death with my paw. It hurt my paw really badly. My dad found me and I was all messed up. He got me home and got all the quills out of me, but I got really sick from that. That was when Aroowoo saved my life. She, and her mother (the old lady from Florida) and my human sister took care of me. I went into shock and my body just shut down. I couldn’t walk or eat or even swallow. I was so weak, they had to carry me outside so I could pee. They kept at it, day after day, giving me water from an eye dropper and baby food. Finally I got better. But they took me to the vet to make sure I didn’t have any quills in my throat or stomach, and the doctor found a bump. We’ll just watch that, he said. It looks like a little pimple, he said. That Aroowoo, she watched it like a hawk. She worried and fretted and then she called Tracey and said we need to take Mica to the doctor. The doctor helped me get ready for surgery, but when the day came, my dad cried. He was scared he wasn’t going to see me again. Then Aroowoo started crying at the vet’s office.
Now I don’t have that tumor in me any more and I feel ok. The cut is itchy and I have to wear that damn cone, but Aroowoo let me sit on her lap for 2 hours the other day at the vet’s office. She pets me as much as I want, and I let her touch my surgery place without growling. She cries sometimes and I poke her to make her stop. We’ll get through this together.
After I’m gone, please keep being nice to her. She is a weird human, and a royal pain in the neck, but I’ve grown rather fond of her. She truly loves me, and she is a cranky mean human that doesn’t love other humans very much and only loves some other dogs (she likes those striped ones – what a shallow human, only looking at the colors). We are a little alike, Aroowoo and me. Well, only in some ways. I’m more like the honey badger crossed with the Black Night… she’s more like Jan from the Brady Bunch. Not really.
If you promise not to tell anyone, I’ll share a secret with you: inside my head when I think of her now, I don’t call her my foster mom anymore. She’s just my mom now.