When Mina was a youngster, and even before she moved out of our bedroom in 2007, we had a play routine in the mornings. Depending on where we lived and how early I had to get up for work, we started the day with Mina licking my nose to make sure I was awake. Then she’d stick her butt up in a classic canine play bow, and start rooting around in the covers. She was looking for my hands.

Mina thought it was big fun to bite at my hands when they were protected by bed covers or gloves or a stuffed toy puppet. I’d move my hands around and grab at her paws and she’d bite as hard as she dared. Mina jumped up and all over the bed trying to catch one of my hands and squeeze it in her strong jaws. I laughed and I could tell she was laughing, too.

This game almost always ended when Mina would manage to get her teeth between the small bones of my hand – Ouch! I always re-assured her that she’d done nothing wrong, then we’d head outside for our morning walk.

On weekends this game lasted longer and moved into the living room where her favorite squeaky toys got involved. The game was for me to be on my hands and knees and attempt to chase her and get the toy. Most of the time I had to “romance” it out of her mouth. That meant keeping one hand near the toy and using the other to scratch behind her ears and around her back. Mina would soon become distracted and slacken her jaw and that’s when I grabbed the toy and ran! I love remembering how she’d bounce around the house after me and growl when she finally got her toy back.

2006, during tropical storm Ernesto, we played to fight off the boredom

Breakfast was always a treat, well, for Mina it was a treat. She’d eat her food and then come to find me for her “right to the last bite.” That was a rigid rule in our lives and Mina enforced it daily. No matter what I ate, Mina got the last bite of everything but especially pizza crusts – she got all of those.

Mina still comes around to see me. When I got home yesterday after the MRI, there was a strong smell of her in our home. Later that afternoon I had a very strong ringing in my ears. It could’ve been some after-effect from the incredibly loud MRI, but since I’d just been outside and petting Mina’s friend Hanna, I wondered if my girl was registering her jealousy?

You’re my best friend, girlie girl, and I miss you every minute of every day