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Strange Little Bird: Binky


She was the last one picked. Seven years ago yesterday, my mother and I stopped at a sad little excuse for a flea market at an abandoned gas station on the outskirts of a dying West Texas town. My mother had had a huge stroke a few months before, and she had just gotten out of rehab that week. I was home from college for the summer to help her. There was nothing at that flea market anyone would ever have wanted. It looked like a bunch of garage sale leftovers. I walked close by my mother, because I still wasn’t so sure she was steady enough on her walker. The tennis balls on its feet still were still too clean for her to have had much experience with it. We scooted over to a large cardboard box in the middle of the floor, and before I even realized what we were looking at inside, Mother said, “Marg, I want it! Please?”

“What is it?”

A sunbaked middle-aged women who smelled of cigarettes popped up seemingly out of nowhere.

“She’s a pure-bred Pomeranian puppy. Born on April Fool’s and just weaned. Last one I have, so you better get her. No papers, but she’s pure-bred.”

Right. April Fool’s indeed. The thing in question looked more like a defective kitten. She was all black except for a snow-white patch on her chest and tiny puffs of white fuzz that seemed to grow from between her toes. She had beady brown eyes that peered up at us from the box.

My mom was cooking up some tears. Her chin quivered slightly.

“Mother, we can go to Midland to a breeder and get you a real dog. There’s no telling what this thing actually is!”

By that time the little soot puff had managed to sit up on her little hind end, and she began to wave her front paws in the air before she toppled over. It was cute. I knew what was next.

“But Marg,” she said breathlessly, “I want THIS ONE.”

The flea market lady new I was beaten. “Okay, fine, we’ll take her. How much?”

“$150 and she’s all yours.”

“Right. I’ll give you $75.”


“I said $75.”

“How ‘bout $85?”


The tiny dog rode home in my mother’s lap. For the next six years she was pretty much always in Mother’s lap, or curled beside her in the bed, or stretched out at her feet. She was sweet, docile, and a little dumb. There couldn’t have been a more perfect companion for Mother.

Binky entertained herself quite well by rolling and spazing in the floor, or by tossing a stuffed Mike Wazowski toy (“Green,” or “Her Man”) to herself. She didn’t like to go for walks, really, and she knew just one trick which took me years to teach her. I called it the Binky Dance. If I held a treat in front of her she would begrudgingly stand up on her hind legs and turn in three circles while anyone who watched cheered her on. She always did the cute begging thing that she had done the first time we saw her, which Mother dubbed “praying.” Binky prayed for bits of food, prayed to be picked up, prayed to get in the bed, prayed for anything she wanted, which she usually got. She was a good dog.

She didn’t act right after we found out Mother was sick. Something was different in her eyes. After Mother died, I tried to leave Binky with Mother’s fiance because I thought she’d be good company for the poor man, but that didn’t last long. She was too much trouble for him, so she came home with me. The vet told me that her melancholy would wear off with time, but a few weeks ago she stopped eating. The vet said she had an infection, and sent me home with some antibiotics for her, but I dreaded what I knew in my heart was coming. Last Sunday, on Mother’s Day (my first Mother’s Day as an orphan), little Binky gave up. I guess she just didn’t want to hang around here without Mother. I don’t really blame her, but I do miss her.

Binky Pearline

(a.k.a Binky Taco, Taco Rocket, Snot Rocket, Soot Puff, Binker, Binky Dink, and a host of other goofy nicknames)

April 1, 2000 to May 13, 2007

Lux perpetua leceat ei

Sunday May 20, 2007

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