Our dog Mojo rescued us on Sept. 30, 2008. The group who fostered him, Rescue Me Yorkie, thought he was about three years old. He had had a rough start in life and was a nervous, skinny little pup with trust issues. All that soon changed.

Now let me just say right off the bat that we failed miserably in trying to train Mojo. Mojo had much better success training us.

He quickly became the Master of the Universe. Bossy, talkative, pushy, Mojo owned us, heart and soul, for the nine years we were blessed (and permitted) to share with him.

Mojo was territorial. His house, his people, his property. I think it was because of his past. He was very protective of all of us but especially me. I was his mommy, his and his alone.

Georgie and Donnie, our sons, used to tell him that I was their mother long before he showed up on the scene. But Mojo rarely paid attention to that.

When it was time for his meals, Mojo would sit next to me on the arm of the couch and stare at me while licking his lips.

Say the word “eat,” and he’d take off for the kitchen, staring back at us as if to say, “What are you waiting for? Get up off your butt and prepare my food.” Mojo had a sensitive stomach, so we fed him cooked oatmeal, plain yogurt, veggies and raw beef.

And we hit on this combo only after trying every dog food, wet and dry, that was ever made. I called him Chef Ramsay (after celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay), because he would stand in the kitchen and watch us cook, pacing all the while.

Some mornings I would wake up, open my eyes, and see Mojo’s face about 3 inches from mine, his head on my pillow. In warm weather, he and I would sit out back on the loveseat, me drinking coffee and him stretched out, a wary eye on our bird feeders.

At the first sight of a squirrel, he’d take off like a rocket, flushing the yard clear of the varmints. At dusk, in all sorts of weather, Mojo would walk around the yard slowly, on high alert. We called it “securing the perimeter.”

Mojo was fearless, except for thunder and lightning and fireworks. He flushed deer out of our yard on a regular basis—keep in mind that he was all of nine pounds.

He had to have the last word. If one of us was correcting him, explaining his misdemeanors to him, he’d listen attentively and then turn away and moan grumpily, as if to say, “You are not the boss of me.” And we really were not.

He was a warrior. He had maybe five teeth in his mouth, but it didn’t stop him from chewing on a steak bone with gusto. He was blind in one eye, but you’d never know it, the way he ran around like a maniac. In the last year, if he got aggravated with us or we weren’t paying attention to him, he’d lift his leg and pee on the TV stand in front of us.

Mojo knew when I was upset, sick or sad. He would not leave my side. We called him my Secret Serviceman because he’d follow me everywhere. He was my husband George’s maintenance supervisor. He was Donnie and Georgie’s wrestling partner. He was everything to us.

The week before Memorial Day, Mojo was diagnosed with metastatic bladder cancer. We had a week with him after his diagnosis.

We cuddled him, spoiled him even more (if that’s possible) and spent a quiet Memorial Day weekend just soaking up our time with him. Mojo died on May 30, one week after his diagnosis. He did not suffer long, thank God.

It’s quiet at our house now. The ghost of our Mojo is everywhere; walking the yard, stretched out on the couch, perched on the arm of the sofa fulfilling his self-appointed role as Neighborhood Watchdog.

The little boy who rescued us, the unconditionally loving presence that lit up our lives for nine years, is missed more than I can adequately put into words.

Hug your furbabies hard!