Do you believe in love at first sight? I have to admit I do, but only because it happened to me. In college, I came face to face with a giant red and black canine, perched romantically in a convertible. I heard a harp play a love song when I looked into those wooly button eyes. I was told this breed was used by bounty hunters to round up bear and cougars that had drifted into residential territory.
That was it. The world’s most beautful dog. And she was bad ass enough to fight a grizzly. This was the dog for me.
A few years later I had my own home, truck and a steady job. The first thing I did was find a puppy. The puppy told me to call her Mimi, as in Mimi Sue West. Purebred airedale terrier. The tallest, leggiest, orangiest and prettiest girl you would ever see. One of her many nick names was Big Orange.
Mimi and I hiked City Creek Canyon at least two times a day for the next five and a half years. The noise and crowds of the 2002 Winter Olympics drove us further up into the foothills for our daily hikes. And later that year, we were in the canyon the day the searchers came to look for Elizabeth Smart. A few years after that, Lori Hacking’s husband would claim she never came home from running in “our” canyon. Mimi and I used to see Lori every morning.
Mimi lay with her head in my lap when I created the first crochet pattern that was all my own. And again as I crafted my first costumes, one of which the Utah Arts Council would put on display. She made me laugh when she would pounce on indiscrete lovers writhing next to “our” trail. She befriended the yuppies and the homeless alike. Mimi’s favorite game was attempting to rob joggers of their mittens, and responding with pure joy when they would squeal in response. I never knew how well I could lash out in verbal violence until a stranger criticized Mimi for splashing in the creek along the off leash trail. Didn’t know I had that in me. Based on the stranger’s response, neither did he.
It’s because of Mimi that I’m now considered by breeders and rescuers to be “terrier experienced.” I would never recommend an airedale to another dog lover because they are such a difficult and stubborn breed. However, it’s the only breed for me. I have a Welsh Terrier (which looks like a tiny airedale, though she doesn’t act like one) and a mutt from the Pocatello pound right now. The only reason I don’t have an airedale is that Mimi left me high and dry, afraid to fall in love again.
Rest in peace Mimi Sue West, artduh.com dedicates Pet Awareness Month to you.
5/31/00 to 11/17/05