Mina is a credit to her species. Mina is a damn fine canine, before she’s anything else. She loves food. Mina loves all kinds of food, even nasty fried chicken bits found in the grass, or something that fell from someone’s trash bag, and absolutely everything I’ve ever served. I don’t know what they serve in heaven, but I’ll bet my baby girl is eating her fair share of pizza.

We had a long-time habit of having pizza on Friday nights. Mostly it was pizza that I made myself, entirely from scratch, but occasionally I’d bring some home from the Whole Foods pizza kitchen. Mina always got the crusts. All of them. She waited impatiently for her crusts, even if she already had a full belly from her own dinner. I fed them to her in small pieces and Mina did her best not to take my fingers with every bite. Sometimes she got a little taste of the sauce, or of the vegan sausage or vegan pepperoni, but she wasn’t an herbivore so the veggies didn’t tempt her. I avoided giving her any dairy during her life (until chemo) because I know some canines are very lactose intolerant.

I lifted the ban on most foods during the last couple of weeks of Mina’s life. She could have just about anything I was having in addition to the chicken and beef I made for her. She had trouble swallowing in that last week so her foods had to be mashed up or somehow made soft. But it wasn’t until after our last visit to see Dr. Cliver on Thursday, November 5, 2009 that I lifted the food ban completely. Mina could have anything, ANYTHING, that wasn’t immediately toxic. She had such a short time to live on this earth and I wanted her last days to be as good as I could make them.

After that awful appointment we stopped at the leasing office to visit everyone, especially Mina’s beloved Auntie Lolo. We got in the door, I dropped Mina’s leash and she blew past everyone and headed straight for the kitchen. There, on the table, was a delivery pizza and Mina stood sniffing it and stamping her feet. Lori asked if she could have some and I told her she could have an entire slice, that it didn’t matter any more, let’s make her happy.

So Lori carefully cut an entire slice of cheese pizza into small pieces for Mina and walked out into the office to feed her. I took pictures with my iPhone and you can see a slideshow of them on my Flickr site. Mina was so excited she could hardly stand it and nipped Lori’s fingers a couple of times. She wouldn’t sit for more than a second and eagerly chewed the small pieces. She gagged a couple of times, but that didn’t stop her!

When you look at the photos, notice the area under Mina’s chin. It probably won’t mean anything to those of you who never had a chance to meet my Mina, or to those who hadn’t seen her in a while, but to me and the people who saw Mina every day, it’s telling. That’s where the four gigantic lymph nodes were located and they made the skin under her chin expand and look swollen. It’s the only aspect of these photos that makes me so very sad.

That said, I also want to point out the pure joy in Mina’s face and in her body movements. She was so happy to have that pizza – it made her day. I’m living without her pure joy for life and for being with me and it feels impossible. I cry every day, even if for just a little while, mostly when I have to open that door knowing she’s not on the other side, waiting for me.

Heaven must be a much brighter place with my Mina there.