FARGO — The email started out like all the others did, expressing condolences for the loss of my little dog, Kita. But then it took an unexpected twist.
“I own a black pom with a white spot on her chest,” the woman wrote. “I purchased her on 5-26-06 at K-9 Country Club, Moorhead. I cherish her. I've always thought it's possible her and Kita are related? Many comparisons in looks and personality. Something on my mind all these years.”
I was intrigued. Could it be possible?
I had purchased Kita from K-9 in 2005, but I had continued visiting the store for several years afterward to buy puppy supplies. Back then, I remembered occasionally seeing litters of lively, black Pom puppies who looked much like Kita, and wondering if they had come from Kita’s parents. Could Kita still have a few sisters, brothers or cousins out there?
The woman, Kris, had included her phone number. One evening, I decided to call her. Bonded by the possible connection between our little dogs, we were soon swapping stories and giggling like old friends.
I found myself itching to meet her dog, Pepper. My heart sank a little with disappointment when I learned Pepper was a full-blooded Pom, unlike Kita, whose mother was a black Pomeranian and whose father was a red toy poodle. Even so, they could still have shared the same mother.
A week later, I got to meet Kris and Pepper in person. As a purebred, Pepper was smaller and finer-boned than Kita, and had the classic, short, upturned nose of the teddy-bear Pomeranian. Even so, her similarities to Kita were uncanny. They had identical coats and markings — down to the glossy topcoats that showed a reddish cast in the sun. They had the identical white spots on their chests, walked with the same stiff-legged, “Frankenpuppy” stride, and had the exact same ears and foreheads.
But besides the physical resemblance, they shared many behaviors. Kita was never particularly vocal: She was more apt to communicate with me by glaring at me to let me know she was hungry or needed to go outside. I was surprised to learn that Pepper also wasn’t yappy, and also preferred to communicate with her owner by eye contact.
Kita was reserved and suspicious around strangers; so was Pepper. Neither liked walking on slippery floors. Both were picky eaters. Kita needed to be with me but wasn’t a cuddler. Her favorite place to be was on the opposite end of the couch from me. Pepper also had “her” end of the couch.
If Pepper was picked up by a stranger, she let out a piercing squeak — exactly like the sound Kita used to make when picked up against her will.
As we talked more, we realized that we humans also had more than a few things in common. We both had curly blond hair, loved language, adored animals and preferred face-to-face connection to digital communication.
We even had more than one set of pets in common. Prior to our dogs, we both had owned black, long-haired cats with white spots on their chests.
During our visit, Pepper sniffed every inch of the living room, probably searching for the dog whose scent was still everywhere. We both found it interesting that she kept visiting the master bedroom, which is where Kita used to retire during the last phase of her life — especially when the dishwasher got too noisy or her humans got out the vacuum.
Finally, we said goodbye, vowing to get together soon. By the end of our visit, both of us were 99 percent convinced that the two were at least half-sisters. The other 1 percent argued that this could all be coincidence, and the similarities we imagined were simply common dog behaviors.
But I choose to believe. The thought that there could be a Kita Jr. out there, carrying some of her genetic material and “little dog that could” spirit, made my day.
Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at firstname.lastname@example.org.