Michael Keever and Kim Kowalski are the owners of Midnight who is smart, well trained and ultimately a dog who wants to obey and seeks peace rather than conflict.
Pet of the Week: Midnight is a peace dog and an icon for Nickelsville
The couple of Michael Keever and Kim Kowalski are residents of the homeless encampmentNickelsville and they love their dog. His name is Midnight and Keever describes him as, "mixed breed Black Lab, Terrier, Airedale, Irish Wolfhound, German Shepherd. A lot of different types."
"He was bred by some hippy kids in the U-District," said Michael, "almost twelve years ago and I got him as a puppy." Midnight came from a litter of 10 and Michael was told this dog was the standout as far as intelligence. "As soon as they laid down the training paper and pointed to it one time, he was the one who got it instantly."
Midnight's intelligence shows in his relationships too. "He wants permission before he does anything," which means he is purple collar dog. Keever explained this means a dog that, "absolutely will not nip or bite under any situation. He's safe with geriatric patients or children. Purple is the safest one."
Kim is in charge of feeding and he gets kibble with cheese, olive oil and, "a little bit of lunch meat." He only eats once a day. Midnight gets treats of human food every now and then, sometimes a little pepperoni.
The couple walk frequently and always take Midnight with them. He is well trained, and heels extremely well. Plus, "He knows how to go to an intersection and stop. He will just sit there and wait. The only trick I've trained him to do is talk," which Michael demonstrated by getting Midnight to bark, just once.
Some insight into Midnight's character is found in a brief story Michael shared.
"I used to have this pitbull and he was real stubborn. He would never listen. So, even though the pitbull was twice as big and strong as Midnight I could chain him to the pitbull and we could go wherever. All I had to say was 'Midnight come!' and he would drag that pitbull all the way back to me, just out of determination to obey. He's just naturally like that."
Still, Midnight is not what you'd call a guard dog. Living at Nickelsville means the population changes from time to time and can possibly lead to conflict. "If anything goes down you're going to find Midnight running for Mommy or Daddy putting his head down and covering his eyes so he can't see it."
In some ways because Midnight is so well known and has been around so long, "He's like an icon for Nickelsville," said Kim,"everybody there knows him. Whether they know us or not, they know him." This is true across the city too Michael said. "We've been homeless for years and traveled around. The bus drivers know us. People who walk their dogs know us. Not us, but the dog."
Right now they estimate there are about 20 pets living at Nickelsville. Midnight is not really pals with any of those animals. "He's really only interested in female dogs in heat but other than that he has no interest in other dogs."
Midnight loves his toys. "He has stuffed animals and will carry them around like they are alive. He flips them over and sniffs their butt." However his love only lasts so long. "He might have one he's babied for six months, but then all of a sudden, one day he's stressed and he's like, 'Today you die,' and he tears it all apart."
Kim summed Midnight up as, "He's here for love and friendship and compassion. He's more than a dog. He's a human being." Michael said, "He's around just to show an uncorrupted disposition of friendship and discipline and calmness. People have corrupted our way and the animal kingdom has not done that. I think he exhibits some basic characteristics in a simple way."
Michael wanted to add a note about Nickelsville.
"Nobody ever talks about how many desperate families with kids come to sleep there or cycle through that place. The Mayor's office, for publicity, bumps right to the head of the list and get them in a place. Obviously if they weren't doing that, Nickelsville would be stacked to the rafters and we'd have our own school district there by now. That's how many families with kids cycle through there."