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There will never be another Mochi, my miniature poodle with a heart-shaped nose

Crystal Graham

mochi doodle graham Mochi was the best dog. He was a rescue of sorts who came to live with us in 2012, a miniature poodle with a heart-shaped nose and a lot of energy, who wasn’t the lap dog the senior couple who previously owned him had hoped for.

On Thursday, Mochi died after a two-year battle with renal failure. He would have been 16 in May.

We met up to bring Mochi home with us at the Bridgewater Park and Ride in August 2012. Mochi was thin and a little scared to meet his new mommy and daddy.

His previous family handed us a huge trash bag full of toys for Mochi. It was clear that he was loved even if he was a bit more of handful than the older couple could manage.

Mochi was the third dog in our household at that time, and he came home to meet two sisters: a miniature poodle named Benzi and a shorkie named Bella.

Mochi wouldn’t leave his mommy’s side when we first brought him home. When I worked from home, he would jump in my chair and sit behind me as if this was perfectly normal behavior.

Mochi loved toys, especially a plush white and red soccer ball, and he did indeed have a ton of energy.

He would jump up and down at the back door when we arrived home much like a pogo stick. He loved walks on the Greenway with lots of stops along the way. He ran circles around his daddy when they went out on runs – having energy even when his dad was exhausted and ready to go home.

He loved the beach, and the humid air left him with even more curls than normal in his sandy white hair. He loved the beach even more when our friends, the Fifes, were with us – and he had extra hands to give him unconditional love.

Mochi loved food and treats and was always the most vocal when it was time to eat. He was especially fond of butter popcorn. He scared us once in 2019 when we were out of town, and he decided to help himself to some chocolate left out by our puppy sitter. But he made it through that incident – and lived beyond his miniature poodle sister, Benzi, who died at 13, in 2014, due to complications from diabetes.

He was my first dog; not the first dog I owned; but the first dog who chose me as his person.

He sat beside me every night on the couch and cuddled up next to me in bed most nights. Even when our tribe grew to six, he made sure he got more than his fair share of love.

When Cookie, our first shih tzu, joined our family, Mochi was enamored with her. He wouldn’t leave her side. As they grew up together, each pining for mommy’s attention, they would run and play and chase each other in the back yard.

Mochi was handsome and looked dapper when we put him in a bow tie or neck tie. He even tolerated his mommy who liked to dress him up for Halloween as Robin from Batman, a lobster and even Eeyore. He also rocked a red Washington Nationals jersey and a gray Hokies t-shirt. We often called him Mochi, the Hokie.

He loved to chase wildlife: from birds to squirrels and even a skunk or two in his lifetime. He managed to catch them occasionally, and we had to release them just as fast as he had caught them.

He was a curious pup … always sticking his nose in a trash can, a room he wasn’t supposed to be in, and even drinking from an outdoor water fountain that he managed to fall into once.

He loved going on an adventure, even if it was only a short ride in the Jeep or Beetle. He especially enjoyed it when we put the top back on either and he was able to let the wind run through his hair. The longer trips to the beach were even more exciting for him; he wouldn’t sit down the whole trip.


We named our outdoor bar after him when it was built in 2023, Mochi’s Patio Bar, something that will live on even now after he is gone. We’re even thinking of getting an outdoor canvas print of him in a bowtie to hang prominently at the bar as proprietor. One of the other dogs will have to step up to make sure the bar is stocked and pizzas and steaks are cooked to perfection.

In his final weeks, Mochi was more affectionate than ever before. He must have known the end was near. He would be sure to lay his head right on mommy’s leg while we watched TV and give me extra kisses. He would be sure to give daddy extra love too. When friends visited, people he grew up with, he made sure to spend some extra time cuddling with them. Carson, our puppy sitter, and a kid who has spent a great deal of time with us over the years, got one last cuddle session with the Mochers on Wednesday night. Mochi knew who loved him – and he made sure to love them back – even a little more than usual in his final days.

Saying goodbye to Mochi was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Anyone who has lost a pet knows what I am talking about. We never had children of our own, so our dogs are our children, our babies, our family, our everything.

Life won’t be the same without Mochi. There will always be a void in our hearts. I’ll miss the little guy that I once shared a banana popsicle with. The little man who liked to lay on a float in the pool. The little dog who wanted to be a part of everything. I’ll miss my cuddlebug. My Mocha-lee-docha-lee.

I’m not sure how we’re supposed to live on without Mochi, but I am thankful that he is no longer in pain. You could see it in his eyes, his gait, his steps for weeks … he was tired. He never lost his inquisitive mind or his zest for food and treats, but he seemed to not understand why his body was failing him.

I’m hoping he’s reconnected somewhere over the rainbow with Benzi.

I’ll miss his fluffy ears and happy face, his heart-shaped nose and his sense of adventure.

There will never be another Mochi. He was the most handsome boy in the world. He was my first dog. He is forever in my heart. I hope he knows he was my world.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.