Little Miss Mia, in all her puppy wildness, turns 1 this month.
In human years, she’s basically a first-grader, a spunky wild child too smart for her own good and with her own puppy ideas about what she should be able to do and get away with.
“How are you going to celebrate?” Mama asked.
I wasn’t sure. Every day is a celebration of Mia.
“You need to have a party,” Mama continued. “Like you did for Pepper.”
Ah, yes. Pepper had some fine birthday parties.
I can’t remember how I got started throwing parties for the little evil Beagle but once I did, she expected it every year.
I had to get her favorite chicken nuggets and waffle fries, along with a small container of Cesar wet food, and a big rawhide for dessert. She also got a small piece of cake, because cake was the least offensive thing that dog ate.
The little hound would sit in a chair at the table, covered with sparkles, balloons and confetti, waiting to be served her feast. Even though she normally hated things on her head, she let me put a birthday hat on her one year.
My friends were invited and told while I didn’t expect them to bring anything, the birthday girl sure did. They knew better to show up empty-handed too.
I even invited my supervisor from work. Pepper could be deceptively sweet when she wanted to be and had wrapped him around her little paw, to the point my boss liked her better than he did me. Robert even referred to Pepper as his niece in conversation, leading some of our co-workers to believe we were related.
When her birthday rolled around that summer, I told Robert I needed an RSVP so I’d know how many nuggets to get. Pepper could eat a dozen or more by herself.
“How old’s Pepper going to be?” a coworker asked.
“Four,” I answered.
The coworker commented about how that was such a precious age, to which I agreed.
“Is she a mama’s girl, or a daddy’s girl?” the coworker asked.
“Well, I got full custody of her in the divorce, so it’s just us,” I answered.
“Oh,” she said empathetically. “I’m so sorry.”
“Nah, don’t be,” I said. “We’re good. Wouldn’t have it any other way.”
On the day of her party, Robert met me in the breakroom with a pink gift bag, complete with a card. “I’m not going to be able to make it tonight after all but give these to Pep. Make sure I got her something she’ll like.”
I reached in the bag and pulled out the tins of Cesar and plastic squeak toys.
“She will love these!” I assured him.
“Wait a second,” our co-worker said, overhearing the conversation from her table. “Robert, did you just give her some dog food for Pepper?”
He answered in the affirmative.
“What is wrong with you? What kind of person calls themselves that child’s uncle and then gives her some nasty dog food and squeaky toys!”
Robert and I exchanged glances, then looked at our co-worker. “What do you think Pepper is?” I asked.
“Your 4-year-old little girl.”
We looked at one another again. “Ah,” Robert began. “Pepper is her 10-inch, tri-colored beagle. Not a child.”
The woman’s face clouded with shock, surprise, and anger all at once. “What the –. Y’all have carried on and on about ... a dog? For how long? What about those times she’s said she had to take Pepper to the doctor to get her shots?”
“It was Dr. Ben across the street, and she was due for her rabies. She’ll bite someone, too; I’ve gotta keep that current.”
The woman’s face twisted with confused rage. “Robert, you call her your niece.”
“Sudie reminds me of my sister, so I’ve adopted Pepper as my niece.”
The woman was trying to mentally piece together all the facts we had given her and reconcile them with the bits and pieces of conversation she had heard over the years.
“And you had a birthday party — a birthday party. For a dog?” she asked incredulously.
“Pepper loves to party,” I said simply.
“Y’all are some … weird, twisted folks. Having birthday parties for dogs and acting like they’re people,” she said with a look of disgust as she left.
She didn’t speak to either of us for about two weeks, and then it was with some serious hesitation.
Pepper was my first inside pup and was very much my baby.
Of course, each furbaby that’s followed has been even more spoiled to the point Mia is quite sure she can do no wrong. And she’s right; she can’t.
She definitely deserves to have a party celebrating her first year being on this earth and all the joy and sassiness she brings into our lives. Well, all of us except for Pumpkin; she’s still not too keen on the pup.
I haven’t had birthday parties for the other pups. They are as introverted as I am so they wouldn’t want a big fuss. The cat wouldn’t mind some cake as that seems to be the only people food he likes.
If we start having parties for Mia, she will definitely expect it, much like Pepper did, and probably want it to be bigger, grander with each year.
The only problem is, it’s entirely too late to come up with a theme, hire a planner, or for that matter, a caterer. I guess I will just have to start planning next year’s party now.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.