Remembering Spike the Yorkie

Remembering Spike the Yorkie

The first dog my family owned was a Yorkie named Spike.  We’d fallen in love with a family friend’s Yorkie, Buffy, and made contact with a breeder in Florida who had a puppy who wasn’t going to qualify for showing and hence was available as a companion dog.

The day Spike arrived from Tulsa, we went to pick him up at the freight terminal of the airport. A Dingo from Australia had arrived the same day. He lay in his crate with hypervigilant eyes. He looked like a regular hound dog with a little something extra.  The staff of the freight terminal were extra vigilant that my sister and I didn’t try to make friends with a wild dingo.

Spike in his Quonset cage was nowhere to be seen.  We finally discovered him in an office.  He pawed the wire of his hut, eager for attention and release. His russet moustache splayed out in all directions as if he had stuck his nose in an electrical plug. His ears stood erectly from a mostly black face.

We named him “Spike” because that seemed so contrary to the image of a small dog. But Spike was a dog of great courage. He was intelligent, protective, independent and loyal. He was a dog with an old soul. He chased dogs many times larger off the front lawn. He regularly bristled and growled his way through the house to the front door at night if he heard something untoward. No threat was too big for him to confront. He was committed to his family and his home.

He was a true terrier. When he came home, my sister and I decided he would spend one night with her and the next with me. Somehow, we always managed to get into an argument about whose night it was to spend with the dog. Finally, Spike had had it. My mother was the earliest to bed in the house and he started going to bed with her.  When Dianna or I came to claim him, he snarled. From that point on he slept with our mother.

Not too long after Spike came to us, my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. His neurologist said he needed an operation that he might not survive.  If he did, he might not live more than nine months. My parents had come home from Tulsa where the neurologist’s office was.  My sister and I and Spike came to greet them at the back door.

My parents came into the kitchen.  We all circled around Spike, petting him and scratching his tummy as he wiggled on the floor. My father delivered his terrible news. I could not connect what he was saying to me. A door shut down inside me. I focused on Spike and the great tragedy that my father might not see Spike grow up.

My father did outlive his neurologist’s expectations. He survived not only that first operation, but two more. He lived not only that first nine months but another 27 before he died.

For more than a decade after my father’s death if you turned to Spike and asked, “Where’s Daddy?” he would he would search diligently to find him. Spike was a profound comfort to my mother after my father’s death, which occurred just two weeks before I left for college.

Yorkies will always have a special place in my heart. If they’ve capture your heart, you might want to check out Absolute Yorkies, which offers pictures and Yorkie focused info every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Even if your dog isn’t a Yorkie, there’s a lot of valuable information for dogs of any breed.