As a Puerto Rican, I am naturally (genetically) superstitious. Everything had a supernatural or karmic sensibility to it. I always was afraid of Friday, the 13th and tried to avoid doing certain things on those days. My mom would try to not really have us step out of the house, we were to not do laundry or iron. I know, It’s very strange. But I was taught that a Friday, the 13th was fraught with numerous hazards. But I had been fairly lucky (knock on wood) on such days for most of my life. A year ago, on Friday the 13th, however, I Iost my little furry companion and love: my doggie, Milo. He was about 11 eleven years old when he passed and he had been with me for ten of his eleven years.
One summer 12 years ago, we walked all the way from Gramercy Park to 110th street animal shelter in the sweltering heat for four weekends in a row. Each weekend we would go search for THE one. The one dog that would be ours. We saw several dogs that were just adorable but none that hit us as ours until that 4th weekend. We saw that little furry mutt – half Pekinese and half beagle perhaps –and we knew he was meant to be ours. He was scrappy; yet regal. He had survived the streets of Spanish Harlem on his own for several days. He was sweet. He was beautiful. He was vastly proud of his furry long tail. We saw him the cage and took him for a walk. He immediately followed us and sniffed everything. He wasn’t afraid of us. He was curious and seemed to want to eat everything. You that was my dog. When we decided we would adopt him we had to place him back in the cage as they had to give him his shots and do the whole neutering thing (ouch) and we had to fill out some paperwork. So, when we placed him the cage he turned to us, growled and bared those little teeth of his. It was both frightening and the funniest thing I had ever seen. He had moxy.
We had to come up with a name for him. That process took us several long days. I am such a New Yorker that I briefly considered Hudson, Madison, and Soho. But nothing seemed to capture his majesty and grittiness. We looked up all things New York related. Lo and behold there is a town in upstate New York (in Yates County) named Milo. The name of Milo worked. Short and sweet to the point, as well as worldly and historical. Milo is a municipality in Sicily. It is also an island and municipality in the Cyclades, South Aegean, Greece. But most importantly, the name of Milo is associated with Titus Annius Milo Papianus who was a Roman political agitator. You may have heard of Titus Annius Milo as a recurring character in John Maddox Roberts’ SPQR series of novels or a character in A Murder on the Appian Way (a different historical mystery series). I love historical mysteries (my little guilty pleasure). But, back to real-life history. Titus Annius Milo Papianus had an active role in roman intrigues and fighting. Milo had a major life-long frenemy, or perhaps outright enemy named Publius Clodius, that he was accused of murdering prompting his friend Marcus Tullius Cicero to defend him in the infamous defence called Pro Milone: The Pro Tito Annio Milone ad iudicem orati. The Pro Milone contains the first known use of the phrase silent enim leges inter arma (“in times of war, the laws fall silent”). This has since been rephrased as inter arma enim silent leges (in times of arms, the laws fall mute). Perhaps you recall this phrase being part of the American consciousness lately. The American media and activists, in the aftermath of 9/11 oftentimes referred to this afore-mentioned phrase throughout the discourse on terrorism. How did Cicero think that phrase would Titus Annius Milo Papianus? Oh, Milo what had you wrought? The name of Milo was chock full of intriguing historical tidbits. And let us not forget the dictator named Milosevic! Yes, Milo our 20 pound doggie would definitely go on to dictate our lives and we welcomed him doing so.
When our doggie Milo was finally released to us, unfortunately, I was in Atlanta for business travel (some things never changed). But to this day, I will never forget how it felt when I got home and he was there waiting for me. I opened the apartment door and in the long hallway he stood and without hesitation we ran to each other and I scooped him up. He had a mommy and he was thrilled by that. No other person could ever really get away with picking him up so readily. But he and I: we were bonded, forever.
Throughout the years, he seemed to forget that he was from the Spanish Harlem blocks and started demanding Gouda and veal. He needed for sure his three walks a day and even had his hair blow dried after the rain. When we traveled cross -country, I held a fan to him. He may have been a bit of a diva. But he was a lovable one at that. When I was pregnant, I had suffered from horrible morning sickness that actually lasted for seven months. He was there with me holding my hair back as I emptied out my stomach. He would lick my tears away when I was in extreme pain. He even sang Happy Birthday to me one year (see the accompanying video). We would go jump in snow banks together making our version of snow angels. I often wondered how could anyone have left this little one go? Their lost, my definite goldmine. He was my first baby. There is a mobile robotic platform called MILO that stands for Mechatronics Intelligent Lovable Organism. I just flipped it to “My Intelligent Lovable Organism”. Yes, he was my Milo and I will love him always. At the end of the movie The Mask, Jim Carrey’s character has a dog named Milo dog who has the last scene of the film where he is seen swimming away with the mask and lord know what havoc he was about to cause with it. I still chuckle at the scene thinking about my own little Milo.
Hope he is enjoying a good squeaky toy while driving others crazy, along with some veal, and apple pie with cheese on top. If he wants, he can even get one of my shoes to chew on or at least may he find his own Mask to create a scene of chaos the only way he could.