MEET MIDGE, OUR FAMILY’S FIRST DOG!
I’ll never forget the moment my youngest daughter, Monica, met her dog for the first time. It happened in the back of our family Suburban in the parking lot of the William P. Hobby Airport, and it was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen in a rear-view mirror. But I’m getting ahead of myself! Before I tell you about that moment in 1994, I should probably share the story of how Midge, Monica’s German shepherd pup, came to be in our SUV.
As a kid, Monica was a cross-country runner and she loved to run on the bike paths around our house. For years, she begged me and Kaye for a dog as a running companion. It took us a while to come around to the idea, but eventually we agreed. Instead of telling Monica, though, we reached out to Kaye’s sister, who raised German shepherds in Wisconsin.
“Do you have any puppies for sale?” we asked.
“Well, I do have one!” she said, “She’s almost 6 months old and she was the runt of the litter, so you can have her for free if you pay the shipping costs for me to send her to Texas.”
As easy as that, Midge (short for “Midget”) was ours. We timed her arrival to coincide with a three-day family beach vacation to Galveston just before Christmas and came up with an elaborate plan to surprise the girls.
Before our beach trip, we told each of our daughters they could take one Christmas present along and open it early. There was just one catch: Kaye and I got to pick the present. We wrapped up Walkman cassette players for Shelley and Dana and a shoebox for Monica. Inside was a leash, a brush, and a book on how to take care of a dog.
Kaye and I couldn’t wait to see Monica’s reaction, so on our first night in Galveston, we handed the girls their present. Shelley opened her gift first, followed by Dana. They were both excited about their Walkmans, and I could tell Monica was sure she’d get a cassette player, too. When she opened the shoebox, her face fell.
“What is this?” she asked, “They get Walkmans and I just get a stupid leash and hairbrush? We don’t even have a dog!”
Her sisters crowded around to look in the box, and the realization hit them.
“Monica, don’t you know what this means?!” they shouted. “We’re getting a dog!”
The look on Monica’s face was priceless, and she hasn’t lived down her initial reaction to this day. The next morning, the five of us piled into the Suburban and headed to the airport to pick up Midge.
As soon as I got to baggage claim I could see the dog’s shipping crate and her little nose and paws peeking out between the bars. But Monica couldn’t say a proper hello until the airport worker carried the crate to the trunk of our car. As soon as he closed the trunk and I got back in the driver’s seat, 14-year-old Monica climbed over all three rows of seats and opened the crate door. Midge crawled right into her lap, and they bonded immediately!
For the next 10 years, Midge was the whole family’s dog, but she was Monica’s best friend. Often when Kaye and I went to Monica’s room to check on her during high school, we’d find her asleep on her bed with Midge sprawled across her, snoozing. Midge lived up to her name and never grew beyond 45 pounds. She was the sweetest, smartest, most obedient dog, and even 15 years later, her name still comes up in family conversation at Christmas time. These days, Kaye and I have a different pet — a cranky 17-year-old cat. But his hijinks are a story for another time.
Happy National Pet Month!