Friday, September 7, 2012

The Story of Cheeto

No character in Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus receives more questions and fan mail than Aunt and Uncle Milligan's dachshund Cheeto. "How did you think of that name?" "Is Cheeto based on a real dog?" "Will Cheeto be in book number two?"  Some perceptive readers notice that I reference Cheeto in the book's dedication:

To Melissa for setting love aloft.
To Cheeto for fierce loyalty.
To my father for quiet fire.
To the bears in the woods
just beyond the highway lights.
So, who exactly is Cheeto? Well, Cheeto is indeed my dog. He was one of five puppies born in rural Florida outside of Thonotosassa in the year 2000. A millennial puppy. Cheeto's dad was a hero. He gave his life protecting the family from a rattlesnake. When I first met Cheeto, he was clearly the ring leader in the family, leading his brothers and sisters on raucous escapades at breakneck speeds. He didn't seem to be a troublemaker at all. He just wanted to have fun!

Cheeto was a red short-haired dachshund. Most dachshunds have a black nose. Not Cheeto. He had a red nose. We named him Cheeto because he was long and red. What a good boy he was! He always wanted to sit on our laps. He loved naps in the sun. And he was always, always ready for adventure.

Here is Cheeto on a mountain adventure. He couldn't wait to walk around in the snow!

Here is Cheeto with his best friend Buttercup on a boat trip!
Cheeto loved Buttercup

The real Cheeto was exactly like the Cheeto in Olivia Brophie. He was very suspicious of people, even people that he knew well. He would spend hours growling under his breath to people he knew for years. But once he opened up to you, he gave you his whole heart.
Cheeto was ever-vigilant. Any unusual sound would be thoroughly investigated. Any doubts would be met with suspicious and persistent barking. Once he supervised me checking out the scene, I would give him the "all clear" and he would go back to relaxing. He was our protector.
At the age of eight, Cheeto developed a rare disease called Chylothorax. Chylothorax is the loss of structural integrity in the membranes surrounding the lungs. The space around the lungs fills with lymphatic fluid causing great difficulty in breathing.  We had to insert long needles into his chest and draw out the lymphatic fluid every couple of days. It was obvious that those needles really hurt Cheeto. The veterinarians said there was nothing we could do, that Cheeto was going to die. But we didn't listen.  We did everything we could to help Cheeto. We found some specialists that have has some success treating Chylothorax and Cheeto went into surgery immediately. They opened his tiny chest and did their best to repair the damage. The surgeons said that his membranes were like "swiss cheese."
Eventually Cheeto came home from the surgery. He was a different dog. He clung to our side. He still kept an eye open for trouble, but he was far less likely to investigate. He only wanted kisses.
Cheeto never fully recovered from the Chylothorax. The damage was just to great. Five month after we found out about his disease, he died in our arms.
Buttercup is still with us. In fact, she is taking a nap next to me as I write this. She is very healthy and the sweetest dog who ever lived.
So, Cheeto now lives on in Olivia Brophie. Doing what he always did. Investigating strangers and going on bold adventures.
If you have any more questions about Cheeto, please email me! I love to answer reader's questions.


  1. Oh I love the book so far i'm in mrs. kipps class from ivy hawn can't wait for the field trip. You are so imagnitive! Can't wait to finish the book

  2. Cheeto is so cute!

  3. Hey Chris!
    Cheeto is my favorite character he's kind of like my brother. I'm so sorry about cheeto I started crying! Anyways, I'm in mrs. kipp's class from Ivy Hawn can't wait for the field trip. Thank you for writing this book, I love it! exited for number 2

    1. Hi Madison! Thank you for the nice comment. Cheeto was awesome and I'm glad his personality came through in the book. I can assure you that there is plenty more from Cheeto in book number two! I can't wait for the field trip either. I'm going to find some things that I wrote about in the book. Make sure you say Hi!