I don't know what made me start thinking about Mickey, as I started off for my Monday run. Mickey was our first family dog and he was a great one. He was a mixed breed (Cockapoo among other things) and looked a lot like Benji, only he was light brown and twice the size – about twenty pounds. We had gotten him while we were stationed at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo), Cuba, 1965-1969. We arrived there with two children and left with three, plus Mickey. Shipping Mickey was quite an adventure in itself; the military at that time didn't move pets and we loved him too much to give him away, although we did have several offers from wonderful families that wanted to adopt him.
After leaving Gitmo (as it was affectionately called), we settled for a short period into a small apartment located in Norfolk, VA, where I was part of the pre-commissioning crew of the USS Mobile (LKA 115). During our stay in Norfolk, we acquired a mini-me of Mickey, we named her Nisha. Nisha was about half the size of Mickey and grey in color.
My ship was to be home-ported in San Diego, CA after it was commissioned for active duty. So, just before commissioning I took leave, packed up the family and set off for California in our two door Chevy coupe. The adventure of two adults, three kids (eight, six and two) and two dogs, along with all our belongings traveling across country is a story unto itself. I wanted to be on the road each morning by 7 AM, we were lucky to accomplish this by noon. With our group, it was like being in stop-and-go traffic. We must have hit every bathroom from Virginia to California. I now know why we're young when we have children. I've gained somewhat in the area of patients, but the physical aspect has long since departed.
Thanks to my brother-in-law we had a place to stay and thanks to the GI bill we were able to purchase our first home. Our home had four bedrooms and as it turned out would be the optimum number for our family which had another addition sometime later. Mickey and Nisha were both fully functional, i.e., they were not spayed. Leave nature to itself and nature will thrive; Nisha became pregnant.
Since what I am about to tell you occurred over twenty-five years ago, some of the details may be a bit opaque. It was about three o'clock in the morning when I woke up to find Mickey standing on my chest, nose-to-nose, and barking; if you've ever read Peanuts and seen Snoopy standing on Charlie Brown (or others) you can get the picture – no exaggeration. I know I was in no mood to play with him, so I just brushed him off and told him, "Go to sleep and I'm not going to take or let you out." It wasn't two seconds before he was right back on top of me, nose-to-nose and barking. "I'm the master and you're the pet," I sternly reprimanded him and once again I brushed him off. Again, in a flash he was back on my chest nose-to-nose and barking. He was so persistent, I relented, "OK, I'll get up and check the house but I'm not going to take or let you outside." I told him, like I really expected him to understand. He seemed a bit relieved as I started to get up. It's kind of frightening to me how my wife slept through Mickey's assault, with all the barking and jumping.
Armed with whatever was handy, let's say a bat, I proceeded to check the house for intruders or an emergency situation, like a broken waterline or fire. I didn't find anything unusual. Mickey didn't follow me, which should have been a clue that I was off on a wild goose chase. Instead he stayed by the bedroom that two of our children shared.
When I returned from my search, a bit angry at Mickey, I looked in to the kids' room, but didn't see anything out of the ordinary – note: it was the middle of the night and somewhat dark. Mickey kept running in-and-out of that bedroom. I thought he was crazy. I started going back to my bedroom, to go back to bed, when I heard the faintest whimper. I wasn't really sure I heard anything, so I stop, stood still, and listened very carefully, for a few moments and then I heard it again.
I investigated further by listening and moving closer to the sound each time I heard it. After listening and then moving closer, I found that Nisha was giving birth, on my daughter's bed, while my daughter was sleeping. Children can darn near sleep through almost anything, as a parent it is really scary. I realized later, all I really had to do, was to follow Mickey. The only smart thing I did that night, was to wake my wife, to deal with the situation; she had no idea what had transpired up to that point. She has an uncanny ability to deal with situations like this and took control right away, which made Mickey very happy. I got to go back to bed, which made me happy. My wife woke the kids, which made them happy. Everybody was happy now.
Mickey acted just like an expectant father, well like a new dad is supposed to. My wife said, "He certainly was a better example than you." I don't remember how many pups Nisha had that night, my wife tells me there were four. Mickey pranced about for days with his chest puffed out and his head held high. He was constantly checking the pups out, to make sure all was well. I bet he would have given out cigars, or doggie treats, if he could have.