Most of the time when I mention that my childhood dog was a Pekingese, people roll their eyes and say something derogatory about small dogs. He had some of the annoying tendencies that small dogs seem to share - he'd yap and bark at EVERYTHING, even leaves blowing across the grass. He obeyed only when he felt like it, and was a shameless beggar. He'd snap and snarl at people, dogs, cats, whatever for getting too close to his food bowls, or me, or anything else that he thought was his.
But he was my best friend, and showed me a loyalty that I didn't get to see in most humans, outside of my family members and a couple of close friends. I had a really rough time fitting in at school - I was just one of those kids that had a hard time identifying with her peers. I was too "out there," too intense, too serious, too... too. I wasn't stylish, and had no sense of current trends.Not that it was all my fault - kids are cruel and I suffered at their hands far more than my fair share.
The first two years of going to my new school, sometimes I would go the entire day without anyone besides the teacher talking to me. And then when summer came, I didn't have any friends to invite over, or to go visit. I spent a lot of time outside lying in the grass with Wicket beside me. He never cared that I was different, or that I would rather spend my allowance on flower seeds than to buy cassette tapes. He followed me everywhere I went, and would gaze at me adoringly, no matter how I looked, even if I had a zit on my chin, even if my hair had this tendency to stick out in every direction.
Once I got past the indifference stage at school, there were some really cruel barbs. School taught me that I had a big nose, that my hair was bushy and RED (said as if this was a major character flaw), I had a big butt, my clothes were funny, my laugh was obnoxious, my eye color was ugly, my mouth was too wide, my leg turned in funny. I was too smart for my own good, I wasn't smart enough, my personality was boring. I would come home in tears so many nights, because of something that someone had said to me. Wicket was always there, and would worriedly let me cry into his fur. Then he would lick my tears away, so kindly that sometimes it made me cry all over again.
And then he would guard over me protectively until I would make him go to the utility room to sleep. (It would have been nice if he could have slept in the bedroom with me, but he could NOT be trusted to hold still and let me sleep.)
I started to slowly make friends, and Wicket was with me for that too. He loved having my girlfriends come over, and would guard over all of us, happily lying in our midst. He would sit beside me on the couch when I had a boyfriend over, sometimes biting the boyfriend.
When I went away to college, it was my biggest sorrow that I had to leave him behind. But Wicket was always happy to take what he could get - I would come back every Sunday afternoon, and he would greet me so excitedly. He never lost his devotion, and I still well up with tears when I think about him, and how much I miss him.
RIP, my Heart Dog. I will see you again someday.