Mushu is my son’s dog. He lives on the bottom floor of my son and daughter-in-law’s house with me and my dog Koko. Tango, my son’s cat, also lives downstairs with us, but he’s outside as much as he’s inside. In my books, Koko’s companion Moochee is patterned after Mushu. Mushu is part Corgi and part Beagle. He looks like a chunky Beagle with short legs. He is an agreeable fellow and is happy 99% of the time. Mushu is also a very tenderhearted dog who is sensitive to others.

For example, when I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, Mushu stayed with my wife Bobbie and me for several months. I was sick in bed for a couple of days and Mushu stayed beside the bed the whole time except to eat, drink and go to the bathroom.

Mushu looks after Koko and Tango. One day I was throwing sticks in the woods for the cat to chase. When I ran out of sticks, I used rocks. I threw one rock too close and hit Tango, who ran under the storage building. It looked like the rock hit Tango on the head, but it turned out that it just grazed his nose. Mushu ran down the hill and stuck his head under the storage building to check on Tango. The storage building sits about six or seven inches above the ground. I walked down to Mushu. He looked up at me, and I asked him how Tango was doing. Mushu got flat on his stomach and began to shuffle under the storage building. I saw the skin on his back wrinkle up as he pushed under the building. As I watched his tail slowly disappear, I began to wonder how I was going to get him out when he got stuck. Ten minutes later, Tango came out and Mushu wriggled out after him.

He’s always looked after Koko, who’s a much smaller dog. Koko starts fights that Mushu has to finish for him. Mushu has very strong jaws. I know this from the tug-of-wars I have with him, but Mushu has never bitten another dog or cat. When he tangles with other dogs, he uses his weight and the fact that he’s built close to the ground. He runs and body slams the bigger dogs,knocking them off their feet.
Lately, Koko has been having a lot of back problems. He had a bad spell where he couldn’t walk very well. As he tried to get up a hill, Koko kept falling over. Mushu went over to him and walked slowly beside him so Koko could lean against him.

There are a lot of little things that Mushu does. Once when I picked the two dogs up after they had been groomed and bathed, Koko was still damp. It was cold outside, and he began to shiver. Mushu moved next to Koko on the car seat and put his head over Koko. A minute later,the little dog stopped shivering.

In a couple of months, Koko and I will be moving to a new location. We will miss Mushu very much.

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