For her seventh birthday in 2001, Mack received a set of four miniature stuffed animals called Pound Puppies. I am not at all certain what prompted me to buy such a thing for her, because she was not really interested in stuffed animals. But, it turned out to be her favorite present that year. Those little puppies were just three inches long and two inches wide, and Mack immediately chose a favorite. Upon unwrapping the packaging, Mack pulled out the light brown one with a big, dark brown spot off-center on his back. She fell madly in love with him, named him Spot, and she carried him around with her everywhere she went.
Initially, I assumed Mack would lose interest in Spot, as he was not a ball or a bat, but I could not have been more wrong about his future prospects. Spot become a full-fledged member of our family. He went to Ireland with us, he frequently joined us at the dinner table, and he always went away with us for weekend trips. Mack took Spot to school with her in her backpack and he often hung out in her pockets no matter what she was doing. After a couple of years, we all talked about Spot as if he was a real dog. And Mack, who was not inclined to fret about anything, would get a little panicky if Spot ever disappeared. Now given the size of that damn thing and given Mack’s proclivity to lose things that were far larger than little Spot, I began to worry that he would, indeed, get lost. I went on Ebay to find a set of Pound Puppies to have at the ready just in case. I purchased a set that had a brown one that looked a bit like Spot, and I ordered it. I realized that Mack was too old to fool, but perhaps a replacement would offer some solace when Spot went missing.
Surprisingly, though, Spot remained safe; and unlike many of her other belongings, Mack seemed to always know where Spot was located. Except for one time. Probably around 2004 or 2005 when Mack was in middle school, she announced that Spot had been missing for several days and she was worried. I remembered the spare Pound Puppy set hiding in the back of my closet, but crossed my fingers it would not be necessary. Mack and I turned her room upside down, checked in the laundry (where he had ended up on a couple of occasions), and inspected each room of the house. When we entered the library to look for him there, Mack suddenly remembered that several days before she had been throwing Spot around in that room and believed he might have flown behind our massive bookcase. Sure enough, after repeated probes behind the bookcase with a long broom handle, we fished him out. Mack cleaned off all of the dust bunnies that came out with him, and she said something like, “Wow, that was close.”
When Mack was in high school, Spot spent most of his time on her dresser or bookcase, but she sometimes popped him into a pocket of a sports bag for good luck. He went to the girls’ state basketball tournament three times, spent one spring in the bottom of Mack’s softball bag with the bats squishing him, and traveled to the golf state tournament her senior year, hitching a ride in the deep side pocket of her golf bag.
When I was helping Mack pack her belongings in preparation for her move to a dorm at Truman State University in early August 2012, I asked her if she was planning to take any sentimental item from her childhood to college with her. Savannah had taken her favorite teddy bear Pickles with her to Indiana University, so I was not at all surprised that Mack without hesitation and with a big crooked grin on her face said, “well, duh, Spot.”
Just a couple of weeks later, Mack was getting settled into college life. On September 2, she had spent the morning cleaning her dorm room, and she texted me a picture of the results of her effort:
I was impressed, and just as I was getting over the shock of seeing such quality organization, Mack texted this note: “Legitimately organized for the first time. Thought I lost Spot and nearly had a heart attack. He’s safe and sound, don’t worry.” Silly me. I thought Mack had changed her ways. Nope. Cleaning was just necessary to find Spot.
Eight months later, Mack posted this tweet on her twitter account:
No worries, Mack, it’s always been the same old Spot!
When Mack was packing for Spain in August, she lamented to me that she must leave Spot at home, because taking him along for her study abroad was simply too risky. I pressed her a little, reminding her that he had been around for thirteen years and five months. He was tough, and I believed he was in for the long haul. She was adamant. “Nopes,” she said, “He’s gonna stay right here on my bookcase.”
I so wish Mack would have taken Spot to Spain. I am not usually a believer in lucky charms, but I think there is something a little lucky about that pup. I know it is probably silly, but I have now adopted Spot from the bookcase where Mack left him. He needed someone to adopt him. I needed something tangible of Mack’s to keep close. And now Spot sits on the keyboard at my desk, daring me to smile as I remember that sweet little girl who loved him so well.