Looking all Lion King in his winter coat


IMG_1011IMG_1013IMG_1014Mufasa came into our lives the way many dogs do.  He needed a home.  When I married at 30 I wanted the whole Norman Rockwell image of the American family instantly – the husband, suburban home, fence, yard on a park with a neighborhood school, kids and a dog.  I got all of it within one month.  And a new job, too. (Fight the urge to exclaim, “What were you thinking?”)

A couple of weeks after the wedding I had an interview at a high-tech company in Boulder.  It was just down the street from the Humane Society.  Since it was on the way home and now I had a fenced yard, I thought I’d just stop by and look.  Note to self: Do not stop by to look at the puppies in Boulder, Colorado in summer if you are not chock full of willpower or some other really good reason for not getting one… unless you’re actually ready to have a puppy.

Boulder’s is a no-kill shelter with a 100% adoption rate, so people actually drive to other parts of the United States to get puppies and bring them there.  That’s what happened to Mufasa. His was a litter of eight puppies.  Six looked like tiny German Shepherds, one was a light brown ball of fur with white marks and then there was a puppy like an oversized cotton ball with brown spots and little clawed feet sticking out.  Clearly a paternity test was in order.  Mufasa, as the nice women there named him, was the cotton ball with freckles.

He was sound asleep wrapped around two of his siblings.  There was a waiting list three deep for him, he was so cute.  He was perfect.  I had to put my name down.  I wrote our new number quickly, not thinking I’d hear back.  My husband didn’t really want a dog.

They called.  We went to meet him.  My husband was skeptical.  It was clear no one had any idea what kind of dog this would be (Maybe Saint Bernard? Akita?).  He was extremely young (maybe six weeks old) and barrel-chested. His eyes were still blue.

“How big do you think he’ll get?” my husband asked as we walked down the long corridor toward the back of the building.

“About a hundred pounds,” the young woman said.  She was holding him flat on his back with his spotted belly pointed straight up toward the roof.

“Well, what if he turns out to be a kind of dog we don’t want, or really ugly…”

“Puppies this cute,” she said as she opened the door to the bright Boulder sun, his four tiny legs splayed toward the sky, “do not turn into ugly dogs.”

We put Mufasa down in the grass and watched him waddle off.

“Let’s be clear,” my husband said.  “The dog is yours.”

She showed us he was extremely easy going; we could do anything to him and he didn’t care.  The woman explained that would be important since he’d be gigantic.  She said we’d be required to go to puppy classes because he’d get big fast and would be a lot to handle, especially for my six-year-old stepson.

She had no idea.  She could not have known that he would eat everyone’s stocking candy his first Christmas morning, metal wrappers and all.  She could not have known about the morning Mufasa decided he’d like bacon and eggs for breakfast too and proceeded to climb up onto his lap and eat my stepson’s entire meal right off his plate on the kitchen table.  She could never have imagined that he would eat half a pan of chicken enchiladas (someone else made and brought), carving his claws into the middle of the formal dining room table during a party. He was a growing boy and to this day loves food.

And that was all before he hit the road.  Mufasa’s World Tour has entertained elderly residents in retirement communities in Florida, schoolchildren in a gym in Nashville and hotel guests across two continents.  Planes, trains, automobiles, ferryboats, funiculars, cable cars… Mufasa’s done them all.

Raising and travelling with Mufasa has taught me a lot about life.  He knows what’s important (the next meal, enjoying the moment, sloppy kisses) and what isn’t (maintaining one’s dignity and looking good at all costs).  He knows to hang on and enjoy the ride.  Certain things, Mufasa is clear, warrant a quick escape.  If someone’s after you, by all means, turn, tuck tail and run.

“What would Mufasa do?” has become a good, all-purpose question.  It will serve you well.

This post is in honor of Sydney, Mufasa’s sister, who died this week. Mufasa was curled up with her the first time I saw him. My best friend Beth adopted her. We took them home together ten years ago this summer.

Mufasa cute baby

Mufasa babyMufasa baby 1Mufasa baby 2

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Rebecca…I loved this post about Mufasa! He really is a cool dog and so layed back too! Those pictures made me want to hug his big furry neck. Please give him a big squeeze for me!

  2. Oh My Gosh-This is just wonderful. I have never seen these baby pics.
    Never, when we came out that first Thanksgiving, could I have imagined the role he would play in my life! Boy do we have memories with THE move, the foreign travelers snapping pics out train windows in Zermatt and the Jungfrau, the luxury hotels where he melts the hearts of the stuffiest concierges, and the strangers who miss their dogs and hug him! And how many times have I just been so glad, in your “dark” times and long drives cross country or moving, that indeed, he was “your dog”! Best though is Stefan telling you on first date “I do not like dogs”. Testimony to how special a pet friend he is.

  3. i’ve just been introduced to your site. i love it!
    and these pics are soooo precious!
    my honey and i are to soon be in the market for a puppy. i can only hope we find a love as beautiful as yours…

  4. Hi Rachel! I forget how many people have loved to hug his big neck!

    Welcome, Anne! Thanks for the nice comment. I’ll check out your blog, too!

    Mom, we need a dogsitter next month. Mufasa misses you, too.

    And for those wondering. Mufasa very clearly grew into a Great Pyrenees.

  5. Oh, Becky, thank you so much. I am still crying over Sydney but your post helped lighten my spirits this morning. So glad that Mufasa has had so many amazing adventures with you.

    I’m going to post some pics of Sid over at my blog, too. Thank you for the inspiration.

  6. Hi Rebecca – great to meet you the other night too. Loved this post about Mufasa (what a cutie!). I’m more a cat person as you may have noticed from my blog but love for a pet is the same whether it’s a cat, dog, or chinchilla. Glad you fell in love with Zollikon – keep me posted about your home search and when you’re moving, it would be great to hang out more once you’re here! A food/photo safari sounds like a great idea!

  7. I feel so lucky to have known Mufasa from his earliest days with you. Loved reading about the wisdom he has taught you, and I am gleaning from that, too, as I read it. I am sad to hear about his sister — condolences, Beth. How did Sydney die?

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