Not long after you left, I asked a friend how I’d fill the time by myself that you and I spent together. You know what I mean, the morning time and the evening time when we took our walks together. She told me then that I’d find things to fill those times of day and still complain about not enough hours in the day.

She was right, of course, as all my friends who’ve experienced the deep grief of a lost beloved have been right. But I think you would not approve of how I fill that time in the morning when we used to take our early morning walk …

moon rise, october 4, 2009

10.4.09, taken during morning walk with Mina

Internet time. I know, I know, you were no fan of the computer because it distracted me from spending time with you. Our morning time was precious because it was brief and we wouldn’t see each other again until afternoon. But I’m sure you understand that I have to do something to fill that hour and, yes, I could go for my own morning walk, that’s true. Trust me, I feel your disapproval sometimes.

Honestly, I do try to honor the 8:30 p.m. curfew on computer time. It’s pretty easy to do most evenings because I fill the time we used to walk together by getting ready for the next work day. Yes, there are some evenings I’m tweeting and surfing and e-mailing until much later. Believe me, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than spending that time with you, fur-face.

Some of the rules are still in place because they keep me out of trouble, but I’m much better now about going out to run an errand, or something, after my workout. Breaking that rule took a few months because coming home and leaving again was your number one crime!

mina walking in herndon 2005

Walking in Herndon, Virginia in 2005

I miss you every single day, Miss Bean. I live a different life now without you – not a better one, but a different one. I love you the most.

When you watch the video linked below then you’ll understand why I ripped off the title of an old Boston song for this post. Trust!

My friend Colleen posted this video to her Facebook page and I watched it this morning. I had tears welling in my eyes and I cheered at the amazing canines featured in the vid. I love canines. I love them more than human animals and, if you’re a dog lover, you understand why.

I dearly wish I’d been able to afford video equipment when Mina was young and spry. That was back in the late 1990s and if you remember what a video camera looked like then, and what it cost, then you’ll understand why there are so few home movies of that era. The things were huge and the quality was pretty much crap.

mina running in water

Mina running in the water at a Denver dog park, 1999

Mina would’ve been a star in her own video production, that’s for sure! She could run like a gazelle and turn corners on two legs, I swear. She wasn’t much for playing “fetch,” though, unless you played her version which was throwing the ball far so she could chase it down, then running to her to so she could drop it in your hand and throw it again. Really, when I look back on those early morning ball sessions on empty golf courses and yards, it was Mina’s way of getting me to move my butt. Clever, so very clever, my little girl …

Watch the video, it’ll make you smile, and pay attention to the message at the end. There’s simply no excuse to buy a dog from a breeder when shelters are overflowing with wonderful canine friends.

Dogwork.com Video: More Than a Feeling

You know what I miss? Taking you for a walk at 4:15 a.m. Well, not when the morning temps are below 75F, you certainly know how I feel about winter, but I miss being outside with you when no one else is around and it’s quiet. I thought about our walks this morning while throwing stuff in a blender for breakfast and how I’d much rather be walking around the complex with you.

I missed you on the trip to Florida, too. I wasn’t very good about stopping as often as I should, but I did hit the pet areas of a couple of rest stops. I didn’t meet any canines, though. There was a nice dog in Dad’s neighborhood that I met twice – Buster. His people told me that he’s too rambunctious when he meets other dogs and I smiled thinking about your enthusiasm when you met your canine friends. Sometimes you didn’t like the other dog for reasons I didn’t understand but respected.

2008 Pet of the Month winner and her prizes Photo: Auntie Lolo

There’s a dog at the winery now that you’d like; his name is Birch. I think he’s your kinda boy because he’s so busy chasing toys that he wouldn’t cling but he’s handsome and older and I can see you sniffing around him and maybe going outside with him to watch him chase toys. Maybe you’ve already met him?

Y’know I miss having you around to take care of me. I think that was one of the hard things about your cancer; that our roles reversed and I became the caretaker. You were too sick to worry about me and fuss over me. I guess some people might think that’s one blessing out of a terminal illness – that we became even closer (and I didn’t think that was possible) and you relied on me for absolutely everything and you didn’t have to be on guard all the time.

Some days, like this one, are hard and I wish you were here to comfort me. This whole world is a harsher, harder place without you, Mina Bean.

Tomorrow it’s 10 months without you. It seems like longer and yet I can sometimes smell you and see you so clearly in all your places. I love you, sweet girl.

Hey baby girl,

Mina lounging at Dad's, 2007

I’m getting ready for another road trip down home to Florida soon and can’t stop thinking about you. I cleaned up the car some and fixed your seat cover so it stays in place, just in case you feel like riding along. You’re such a good companion on road trips and I miss you every time I get in the car. I miss packing up all your toys and bowls and stand and your food and treats. I miss walking you around rest stops in various states. I miss taking you for walks in Dad’s neighborhood so you can sniff all the new smells while avoiding sand spurs and the occasional snake.

 

I was braver when you were here; I had to be to protect you from any harm.

So, tonight I’m getting out the ginormous suitcase to start packing. I never used to get it out so early when you were with me all the time; I know it upset you because you worried I might leave and not take you along. I’m sorry that you ever felt that way, sweetie girl. We didn’t spend that much time apart and I always kept my promise to come home to you. The rest stops aren’t the same without you, Mina Bean.

Auntie Kestrel told me the other day that she had a flash of Tosca and she was in a natural environment. That’s how I think of you, too. I see you running in huge green fields with other dogs and playing until you fall asleep under a tree or in a soft bed. I also see you eating a lot of pizza. Some day I’ll run with you and we’ll eat pizza together.

But for now I’m off to Grandpa’s house without you – again. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to making this trip alone. My plan is to stop more often this time, like we used to do, and to pet any canines I meet at the rest stops. Sort of a way of remembering our many trips together, I guess.

I love you, punkin head.

OK, this is a little off the beaten track for Mina’s blog, but we’re hosting an event at Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane, Virginia on Sunday, August 15 from 1-5 p.m. Please come and bring the kids and fur kids because BOW is a very kid- and dog-friendly place. Mina loved visiting BOW, loved it. We started going there about two weeks after they opened and she’d have run of the place. It was a lot busier during her last visit on her 13th birthday, October 10, 2009, but she managed to last for about three hours before laying down under the table.

So come out and have some wine and support a cause that will help the people and wildlife of the oil-damaged Gulf Coast!

barrel oak winery gulf aid fund raiser

2004-05, my happy girl with her "summer shave"

It’s impossible not to think of the last time I saw Mina when this day comes around. I always cry, I always berate myself for not being a better companion to her, for not saving her from the cancer. Then I look at her pictures and see her beautiful brown eyes and playful expressions and realize that Mina holds no grudges against me; she never did.

I still run into people who want to know when I’m going to adopt again. When I tell them I will never adopt another canine, they don’t seem to believe me. The difference is that now I don’t find that as frustrating as I once did. It’s their problem, not mine. I’m comfortable with my decision even if I’m still not comfortable living all by myself without Mina.

So, I was thinking about her a lot yesterday as I drove down to our vet’s office for the first time since the day after she died. I went to deliver some fliers for an event I’m planning and looked forward to seeing her vets. But, they weren’t there and the staff on hand didn’t know me so I dropped off my fliers and left. It didn’t make me sad to walk in there, it made me kinda glad that Mina never has to go to the vet again. I’m pretty sure heaven is full of veterinarians but I’m also sure they’re out of business.

Y’know what the genius is of canines? Their ability to live so companionably with humans. No other species has had much success living with us because we mostly kill and eat them or destroy their habitats so that they become extinct, but canines have figured it out. Mina’s genius was learning how to live with me, something no human has ever mastered. She took care of me for years and years and when it was my turn to take care of her, she made the transition easily while I struggled with learning to take care of a cancer patient. Mina is brilliant.

In a couple of weeks I’m driving down home again to visit my Dad. I hope Mina will ride along with me because this will be a much better trip than the one in December. I’m gonna stop at rest areas and greet any dogs who are stopping with their people because that’s what Mina would do, and I’m going to remember the feeling of her head on my shoulder as she catches the breeze from my open window …

s.

OK, so the title of this post is somewhat misleading as Mina and I never worked out together. Well, not unless you count her several daily walks around whatever neighborhood we lived in, which were more like sniffing expeditions and social outings than workouts.

I’m talking about my many years of chasing fitness through home workouts and, for a brief time before injury sidelined me, running. Even now, when I’m doing something in the P90X catalog that requires me to be on the floor for a bit, I remember when Mina was younger and how she used those parts of the workout to try and get my attention.

My workouts were done after I got home from work and had taken Mina for her first evening walk and given her dinner. Then she’d sit nearby, but out of the way, and sort of watch my crazy routines. Mina would wander over and sit as close to me as she could manage as soon as it was time for ab work or stretching. I recall many times when she’d position herself so that I could pet her on my way down from a sitting crunch, or something. It makes me smile now but at the time I wasn’t as charmed.

Mina wasted no time once the final stretching routine was complete to find the sweatiest place on my body, usually my neck and hairline, and attempt to clean the salty sweat off me. I always appreciated her attentiveness to my hygiene; Mina was keenly interested in me when I smelled bad.

I treasure these memories when they pop into my head and that’s where these blog posts come from, really. I’m keeping them where I can read them and remember them always. I miss my girl. I miss her every single day. We still talk, or more truthfully, I still talk to her and I imagine Mina in her heaven listening to me with that wise look in her eyes, or even giving me the side-eye when she thought I was off my rocker.

Love you love you love you, sweetie girl