My pal Paco died on Monday. All of my pets have been special, but there was something wonderful about Paco, something all his own. He could size people up from across the street, determine friend or foe, and act accordingly. He didn’t need to do that with other dogs, you see, because he was the mightiest Min-Pin ever made and the toughest little guy on the street. He inspired respect and affection–a small dog with big street cred.
Paco was a rescue. He had been passed around among a group of young friends, some of whom cut his ears and his tail (he was just a dog to them). A member of my family rescued Paco from them, and he came to me a short time later. With the fierceness of a dog five times his size, Paco immediately established himself as Top Dog, and worked out an amiable relationship with the cat who reigns as Supreme Boss in our household. They mostly ignored each other. Paco got the prime seat on the sofa, and the cat sat everyplace but there.
A ferocious watchdog, Paco never let a sound go unchallenged. He protected his family, his home, his friends, and his block from intruders like garbage trucks and school buses, always from the safety of his leash. He never met a mail carrier he liked. I never knew if it was the uniform, or the cart, or the mail truck, but on seeing one of the three Paco went right into battle mode.
A tiny canine gourmand, Paco loved good food. Regular dog food, yes, but also a little pizza, a bite of tamale, a chunk of samosa or egg roll (no dipping sauce, please), a few potato chips, and buttered popcorn. Paco ate only the popcorn with butter on it, leaving the drier pieces for his younger, bigger brother, for whom eating is just a pastime, not a pleasure.
He was my pal, sitting up with me when I couldn’t sleep, licking my hand for encouragement when I had writer’s block, barking for a walk when he sensed I needed to clear my head. Paco sat next to me while I read or watched TV, and woke me every morning to play his favorite game before breakfast.
Paco was my granddaughter’s buddy, too. Brittany used to hold his leash while we walked, and often referred to Paco as “my dog who lives with grandma.” She was at school when he died and didn’t get to say good-bye, but she understands that Paco has gone to heaven and God now has another pet.
Paco Reyes was one of a kind, both warrior and quiet companion, a high-spirited dog who never backed down when challenged, never failed to welcome a new day, and never let his guard down when he was on duty. In his off-hours he was sweet and playful, and even let his companions win a few rounds in their daily play.
Paco’s survivors include his two canine companions, his co-boss, the cat, his pet-mom, and numerous family members, friends, and neighbors.
All of us will miss him forever.