Today’s post is written by my friend, Samuel Maina, who lives in Nairobi and works for Wildlife Direct.

Today marks two months since Mina left us. These two months have been trying for Sheryl and I have observed her agony with utter helplessness. Dog experts will tell you that mourning a departed companion animal cannot be wished away. It is part of the intricate bond humans have forged with dogs since the domestication of dogs some 15,000 to 30,000 years ago.

Before Mina, I would have found it odd that a fully grown lady would go through so much sorrow during the ailing days of her dog, and even more agony after her dog’s inevitable passing on. But Mina changed all that. Even though I never knew Mina in the flesh. She changed the way I view human-companion animal relationships.

Me and the Bean, February 1997

Before Sheryl started talking about Mina, I didn’t have much love for dogs. But don’t get me wrong, I am an animal lover, a conservationist, and a wildlife campaigner. I believed (and still believe) that animals belong in the wild and not in people’s homes. I used to think that owning pets is abuse of the laws of nature. I didn’t even like dogs.

Enter Miss Mina Bean and ‘her human’ Sheryl and my world was about to be turned upside down. I resisted at first, but Mina’s power transcended thousands of miles. Every time I looked at the cute dog’s pictures, in this blog, I felt as though she was pulling me to herself. And every time I felt that I was losing ground. I was afraid. I was losing part of myself (or so I thought).

Mina’s final journey together with Sheryl was heart rending. Through each consecutive post in this blog, I watched helplessly as Mina slowly faded away. It was too much to bear. Countless times I thought to myself “I will not go to Mina’s blog today”, but the thought of the brave little dog taking her last days “like a man” always led me there. I did not leave comments. I had no words for saying anything. I didn’t know what to say.

From the relationship between Mina and Sheryl, I now understand that the bond between one dog’s human and his/her dog is unique. No two dogs can have the same kind of relationship with their human, and equally, no two humans can have the same kind of relationship with one dog. True, Sheryl may get another puppy and love them as much as she loved Mina. But Mina will never be truly replaced. Mina’s place in Sheryl’s life was where and when she was with her, and no other dog can take that place.

Could a dying dog change the perception of an African man thousands of miles away? Well, Mina did. Through Mina, I learned that dogs are not just pets … they are beyond pets. They understand us just as we understand them. We have evolved with them through thousands of years. And even though they would still survive on their own in the wild, they flourish in our homes. With our care. They are part of us. They are family.

With Mina’s help, I found a piece of me that I had lost even before I had had it. I found compassion and love for dogs. Mina did not just leave. She left a legacy. She had a purpose. A mission. A Mission to help an African man find himself. And to me, her mission is accomplished

Samuel Maina
WildlifeDirect Inc.

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