This story first appeared in the Information Point newsletter Our World in 2009, when Stacey Cummins told us about the perfect gift for her son Briar.
When two dog lovers decorate a child’s nursery it can start to look like a veterinary office. My son, Briar Sebastian Cummins, born October 27, 2003 with X-linked Myotubular Myopathy, would know. My husband and I got carried away. It all started with a dog mural covering an entire wall…a little boy building a dog house, dogs running through the yard and even an angel dog up in the clouds. I found bedding and curtains with bones and puppies, the curtain rods had bone-covered tennis balls on the ends, I added enough stuffed ‘doggy animals’ to do a ‘Where’s Waldo’ photo and my husband and I even found a mobile with puppies that played ‘This Old Man’. With a knick-knack, paddy whack, give a dog a bone…we hoped Briar would love dogs as much as we did!!
Briar came into the world early, floppy, non-responsive, and with no respiratory effort. He was diagnosed with X-linked MTM at around 4 months and was able to come home to his ‘puppy haven’ after 5 months in the NICU. We had two boxers at home awaiting Briar’s arrival. They had been introduced to his smell everyday for 5 long months. Briar came home from the hospital on March 29, 2004 and was greeted with two wagging tails. He would often be visited in his crib and always found such joy in the slobbery kisses of those two dogs. Unfortunately, two boxers were just too big to crawl into the bed with Briar and they are shedders!! Not a characteristic you want to have within close vicinity to a tracheostomy!!
Briar has had many dog toys throughout his 6 years, ones that bark, growl, whimper, etc. He has always loved them and they would always bring a big smile to his face. He has had visits from puppies that have snuggled with him in his bed and licked him up one cheek and down the other. The joy that a puppy brings to Briar is indescribable!! This brought ‘Santa’ and I to the decision to find our perfect son the perfect best friend. Our little ‘Superman’ now has an awesome companion and his name is ‘Batman’.
We began the search for Batman on the internet looking for non-shedders. We then took the list and studied each breed. We needed a non-shedder that would not outgrow Briar’s bed, an intelligent dog with a calm demeanor. We came across a breed that neither of us had heard of, the Mi-ki. Considered to be hypoallergenic, the Mi-kis are also recommended for the differently-abled and are often used as therapy dogs due to their loving nature and snug-ability. We knew we had found the best match for Briar. I began contacting breeders, which were few and far between, to learn more about the Mi-ki. Disappointment set in fast as we realized just how rare this breed was, the breeders were very proud of these puppies and it was shown in the pricing. I chose not to give up, however. Briar is priceless to us and MTM is a rare disorder, so without a doubt, Briar needed a priceless and rare Mi-ki.
I sent photos of Briar and told his story to a breeder who asked the question, ‘Why is it you are interested in this breed’? Soon thereafter, I was put in contact with Batman’s breeder / owner who was touched by Briar’s story and wanted to help, Briar was meant to have this puppy. She told me of this great little pup she had which had the perfect personality for Briar. All of a sudden, this expensive and rare Mi-ki, which we thought was out of our reach, was offered to us with a new heart-touched price. Briar’s story set the angels into motion and an early Christmas present was delivered!!
Batman and Briar were introduced on November 9th of this year. Santa came a little early but you can experience the joy of giving and the happiness it brings all year long. The most beautiful smile you can imagine spreads across Briar’s face when he looks at his new best friend. Briar loves his puppy and to see his eyes light up when Batman hops up on his bed will make the coldest of hearts melt. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to give Briar a portion of the never-ending joy he has given us. There is a special emotion that comes over you when the light of your child’s smile shines bright when they get that perfect gift. There is no better feeling to know that miracles still happen and you can still find the joy of Christmas around you … even when it is as simple as the connection between a boy and his dog.