Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Muffin Saga, Part I

She came up to us from behind the bars, her tail wagging and a friendly gleam in her eyes. Well, the gleam was in what we could see of her eyes. Her bangs hung over her eyes just as her long, gray-white hair covered her body. If it were not for the wagging tail at one end and the tongue protruding from her mouth at the other, we wouldn’t have been able to tell she was a dog. Later, when we got her home and she curled up on the living room rug, we realized that she looked more like a mop head than a canine.

We had been without canine companionship for the three years that I had attended seminary in St. Louis. My sons, Nick aged thirteen and Rob aged nine, and I missed having a doggy friend. Before we moved to St. Louis, we had experienced the love of two devoted dogs.

Bruno, a black Labrador Retriever, had come into out lives as a puppy. We had raised him as a house dog, although the larger he grew the less house-worthy he became. He probably would have remained a house dog, even with his chewing on the furniture, had he not developed a liking for my wife’s shoes—or, perhaps it was a dislike for her. After he ate the third pair, she banished Bruno to the back yard. There were adventures surrounding his yard life, but they must await another, exclusively Bruno, post. Briefly, I found Bruno to be so unhappy being separated from people, that I gave him to a social service aid I had supervised at the group home I’d managed.

The second dog briefly over-lapped Bruno. She was a highly pedigreed little Pomeranian named Jennifer Foxy Bair. She was given to us by a wayfaring friend of my wife’s sister. He did not want to deal with her on his journeys. I quickly understood his need to travel without her: Jenny was spoiled rotten as only a cute little Pomeranian could be. For example, for breakfast she expected to be served an egg scrambled in butter. Still, she became a part of our family and we cried when she died—poisoned, we believe, by the dog hater who lived across the street from us.

During my three years of seminary study those of us who lived in the dorms were not allowed to have four-pawed pets. I promised Nick and Rob that as soon as I graduated, was ordained, and called to a church, we would obtain another doggy friend. So, a couple of weeks after moving into the parsonage in Cannelton, Indiana, and few days after their birthday (both of my sons were born on June 12th, although four years apart) we drove the thirty miles to the nearest animal shelter and began walking between the cages looking for a new member for our family.

And that’s how we met Muffin, the name she somehow received on our drive back to the parsonage. Her age was estimated at between eighteen months and two years. She had come to the shelter along with about thirty other dogs that had been living on a farm and badly neglected by the farmer. She was within a few days of execution when we adopted her.

On the drive home from the shelter, Muffin shared the back seat of our station wagon with Nick and Rob. She also vomited—the only time she ever vomited in a car. When we arrived at the parsonage we surprising learned that she was house broken. It was a surprise because we had been told that she had spent her life out of doors.

Muffin snuggled, cuddled, and played with my sons. She was, however, terrified of me—terrified of all adult males and especially any wearing a baseball cap. I suspect that that farmer had not only neglected those thirty or so dogs, but had abused them as well. I also suspected that he routinely wore a baseball cap.

Another of Muffin’s quirks is that she didn’t speak—no barking, whining, no sound at all came from her mouth. Even when she saw me, she didn’t make a sound. She just cowered and looked for a place to hide.

As you may suspect, it wasn’t long before she lost her fear of me and we became best friends. She also began to speak on a regular basis to the point that I sometimes longed for her mute days.

Muffin was a part of my life—a very important part—for fourteen years. We had many adventures together and we cared for one another when we were ill. When she disappeared I looked for her for weeks. And I cried and mourned her.

But that’s another story which I will share after I share the stories of the adventures Muffin and I had during our fourteen years together. There are several future posts that will continue the Muffin Saga.


  1. Muffin is a beautiful animal. You wrote some about Muffin in the past, but not how long she had been your dog. I am looking forward to the rest of the Muffin saga.

  2. awww, that nearly bought tears to me eyes! what a lovely dog.

  3. Hi Nick! Thanks for your comment, and the links! :)

    The proper link to my gallery page on EBSQ is:

    Soon my 'official' website will be launched, but until then, I refer to EBSQ or my Saatchi Gallery page. Thank you for asking. Have a great day! :)

  4. I hate it that pets can just become such a part of our lives. I love it too. You know what I mean...I think. Cheers Nick!!

  5. Adorable.
    My dog wasn't much of a speaker until we had my daughter. Then she became a fierce protector and barker. Sometimes I long for her quiet days too...

  6. Very sweet.

    My dog, Buddha, and I are so close that I don't know how I'll ever do life without him.

    I hope you post a warning sign before you tell about Muffin's disappearance. That will be a "Box of Tissues" day. In the meantime, I look forward to reading about your adventures together.

  7. Your Muffin is absolutely beautiful! I found your blog through Enola. I'll come back and visit again.

  8. Muffin is a definite adorable mop.
    I cannot wait to hear more.
    Wow, I thought the fact my son and daughter had 6 days between their birthdays was a challenge, actually Micheyla was to share Zachary's birthday but the doc did the c-section early for me, & our health. June is a good month though, my bday is 6-10.

    You know Nick, I am here to support you through this transition...still thinking on how we can keep Alex off that hose...need to make it unattractive.

  9. Ah pets, they leave such lasting memories! And now you have Alex! :)

  10. Hey Nick this is Tiffany please contact me at i have alot to tell you I hope all is well

  11. *sniff sniff*

    awww....Muffin. what a lovely story. Isn't amazing what animals bring to our lives? I just can't understand people who hurt them.

  12. I love this. I so look forward to the next installment.

    I love animals. Many times I would rather be with them then people just because you know where you stand with them. Animals usually took a shine to me right away.

    There was one time however that did not happen. I kept trying and in return I came very close to getting bitten instead. In the end I found out the story was much the same as Muffins. The people pretty much neglected the dog and the dog was tormented and tortured by local kids. It turns out the kids were boys (my first strike) and one of them wore glasses (my second strike). I only visited the one time so I do not know it things would have changed but I would imagine that is exactly what was happening with you and Muffin. Sorry Muffin just dssapeared.

    Keep an eye on Alex just in case...

  13. Pets add so much extra love in a household, I can tell yours were very special.

  14. She's beautiful. I love dogs and dog stories so I look forward to your future posts about Muffin.

  15. renie.burghardt@gmail,comThursday, January 17, 2008 8:52:00 PM

    Muffin is adorable. I have a smaller version of Muffin and her name is Midgie. I look forward to your adventures. 14 years is a long doggie life. Endings are always sad, but meanwhile, there were 14 good years.

    I hope your breathing problems have eased.



    Darn blogger is giving me problems! Hope this goes through.

  16. This is a fine beginning to a good tale. I look forward to the next part.

  17. Muffin is such a lovely girl ! Sometimes the best friendships take a little longer to warm. I know it was that way with my German Shepard. Except I was the one who was wary at first !

    She looks like an adventurous dog - can't wait to hear more.

    Take care, I suspect, or at least hope, that once your body adjusts to the increase in oxygen, your energy level will return.

  18. Hi Nick. I tried my darndest to read this post yesterday, but I was home and my vintage laptop in that setting doesn't have a browser that will stay open on your blog. The whole thing just closes down. Wonder why. It's a drag.

    Anyhow, better a day late than never. Right? Muffin is a beauty and it's fun to read the saga.

    One detail jumps out at me--that Pomeranian was so different from my canine Trudy. Although she likes eggs, if she so much as nibbles on such, she upchucks. No eggs for the Trudester. Also, we seem to have dog-haters in our neighborhood. Our neighbor had their dogs poisoned. Our neighbor is also an IRS agent. We never knew whether the killers were dog-or IRS-haters. Whatever the motive, they are unbelievably cruel.

  19. ` Oh, right, this is a story from way back when. I see now why it's called The Muffin Saga... I assume it continues to get interesting!

  20. I have just read all of the Muffin saga, last to first. There are wonderful stories about an exceptional dog. Thank you, Mr. Nick, for sharing them. I look forward to the next one.