THERE’S something missing in our lives these holidays. It’s Missy, Missy Higgins.
Not the multi-talented singer-songwriter, but Missy, a shiny, black 10-year-old kelpie/whippet cross rescue dog we adopted in early 2017. We re-christened her, adding the singer songwriter’s surname to give her some extra “cred” (it also works as her territory included the northern suburb of Higgins).
And it turned out she didn’t need any help in that department. She had personality plus (we thought, anyway) plus mega attitude. Missy quickly wormed her way into our household and hearts.
I hadn’t had a dog since the 1970s when our family had a jet-black border collie whose name cannot be uttered now. It was more than likely offensive at the time, too, but also back then there was no dog ice cream or dog yoghurt and it was a time when nobody paid exorbitant vet fees and dogs had names like “Butch” and “Scruffy” and “Bimbo” but were never referred to as Doggos.
Missy didn’t seem to consider herself a dog and couldn’t understand why the leather couch was denied her, although she obviously got that message loud and clear.
She had a haughty attitude to most things and in particular to other dogs, although she would deign to sniff the occasional butt during her daily walks. Peer pressure?
Missy loved bedtime stories, her favourite being “Why Dogs Sniff Each Other’s Bums”, the classic tale which more than plausibly answers the eternal question of why dogs engage in the socially awkward practice. Without giving too much away, the story goes… all the village dogs were summoned to an important meeting in the town hall to discuss the issue of appropriate public leg cocking etcetera. As the dogs entered the hall they were required to hang their bums on coat hooks in the foyer. Halfway through the meeting a fire alarm rang and as the panicked dogs raced from the building they mostly grabbed the wrong butt. And that is why, to this very day, a dog will leave a juicy bone and sniff another’s bum in a desperate bid to find its own. Missy never tired of this story even though she “abhorred” the term sniffing butt. “Common!”
She did possess a dog’s obsession with walks and, despite her delicate and ladylike persona, she would plough through as many walks as we were prepared to be dragged on. And, like all dogs she had no shame whatsoever of public pooing. Her poo PB was three in the one walk. But Missy was prone to look down her elegant snout at many of our, to her, frivolous requests of activities we attempted to engage her in.
She flatly refused to fetch anything; no tennis balls, no sticks, and certainly no slippers or newspapers.
“All the tummy tickles in the world won’t get me doing that” was the prevailing attitude. We had to draw the line at her request for an instagram account. She would have been insufferable.
She was a tad racist, too, and as a mostly inside dog she would bark more threateningly than at other times when the courier man with the turban and beard delivered the online shopping.
Sadly, in September Missy became seriously ill and had to be put to sleep. We all still miss Missy. Mostly her presence in the house, usually flopped in a bed near the fire during our harsh winters or a spot of sun near a glass door. And even all these months later, there are times when arriving home we still expect to see her waiting at the window.
In announcing her passing on social media I was stunned and warmed at the number and nature of the heartfelt and genuine comments on the heartache of losing a family dog. We all learnt a lot from Missy Higgins. And in my case, thankfully, you can teach an old dog new tricks. RIP Missy.