Mina in 2008

So here I am at the eighth month mark since Mina died and went to heaven. It seems like forever since I last kissed my sweet, furry girl’s face or rubbed her belly, and it seems like just yesterday that we were together. It’s all very odd. My friend Colleen, who lost her dear Tosca back in January, says we’re living without context. I think that’s accurate.

 

I do things and I talk to people but I spend so much time by myself since Mina left. There are pleasant distractions and some fairly awful distractions, but it all boils down to lots of hours spent in my own company. When Mina was with me she’d keep me honest by reminding me that she needed several walks every day and nudging my leg with her nose when I’d spent too much time on the computer. I always knew she was there even if I couldn’t see her or didn’t know where she was napping.

I did try to get out and walk around the property for a couple of months after Mina died, but it was a sad attempt to stay in touch with the people and canines we knew. Most avoided me because, I’m told, they didn’t know what to say to me, they didn’t want to face the truth that some day they’d be me. I called myself the “grief leper.”

So, this morning when we got to work at 7 a.m. I was suddenly reminded of last summer when Mina was in chemo and how I’d pick up Auntie Sue at the train station and she and I and Mina would drive in together. These were the late afternoon chemo days, so we had plenty of time to drive to and from the District. Mina would get to come inside and trot around the office and visit all the early arrivals. Some of my colleagues would come in especially early if they knew Mina was going to visit, just so they could meet her.

Mina at work, outside Auntie Sharon's office, August 2009

One of my colleagues had the most remarkable reaction to meeting Mina for the first time. She’d grown up without pets but learned to love the animals at the zoo and asked me every day about Mina’s condition. When Mina walked into her office for the first time, this lady grabbed Mina’s face in her hands and gave her a big smooch! To say I was surprised is an understatement. Another colleague who greeted Mina every time she visited the office was reminded of her visits when Auntie Sue’s Christmas jingle bell pin would ring in the hallways. He said it sounded like Mina’s tags jingling when she came to visit him.

 

Mina made a lasting impression on the people she met. Our neighbor had to take Turk, Mina’s buddy, to PWEVC a few weeks ago. There, she met Dr. Smith and told him that she and Turk were Mina’s friends. Dr. Smith told her that Mina was very special to him and that “Miss Bottner is the best dog mom I’ve ever met.”

And that, my friends, is how I want to be remembered.

Mina Bean, Mina Bean, prettiest girl I’ve ever seen …

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It’s funny and really nice when some memory of Mina will pop into my head. The other day as I was getting into my car to go to work, a neighbor I haven’t seen in a while came by with his big yellow Lab, Chance. I’m not exactly sure but I think the very last time I saw Chance and his human was the day Mina died.

I was wandering around the property and carrying Mina’s squeaky Vermont man toy when I saw Chance and his human approaching. Sure enough, the first word’s out of the man’s mouth were: “How’s Mina doing?” I’m pretty sure I was already crying but he was shocked when I told him that Mina died that morning.

When I saw them the other day it was better, he asked how I’m “holding up” and I told him that I’m OK most days. Chance was busy sniffing around the grass, as Mina would’ve been doing, and I petted him a bit.

Max and Mina


Chance was one of Mina’s favorites. She liked boys and she didn’t seem to have an age preference. Her very best boyfriend was Peanut, who was only six years old last we saw him; and Turk, who lives downstairs and must be 14 years old by now, then there was Max who was just a couple of years old, and Chance who’s at least Mina’s age, 13 years old.

mina and chance

Mina and Chance during Mina's chemo


Chance and Mina would walk together for a bit, sniff the grass and each other, until Mina would smell or see something else and pull me away. Chance liked to give Mina kisses on her face and she didn’t seem to mind.

Mina loved the company of her fellow canines, she just didn’t like them in her house.

Oh yeah, she was a territorial one, my Mina. She was free to barge into any other canine’s home as if she owned the place, but no one had better step foot in her territory! I brought Peanut upstairs one day after running into him and his mom while taking out the trash and Mina barked until he backed out the door! That’s my girl – double standards all the way.

Whenever we went downstairs to visit Turk and his mom, Mina would walk in like she owned the place and head straight for Turk’s food dish. She’d have had a hissy fit if some dog had done that in HER house but she felt quite entitled to do it to other dogs.

I’ll bet that Mina has a lot of boyfriends in heaven. She’s a looker and she has a bright, fun personality. It was rare to meet anyone, human or canine, who didn’t like Mina right away. If they didn’t, then I knew there was something deeply wrong and so did Mina. I miss her protectiveness very much because I didn’t realize how much I relied on her senses to keep me from harm.

Love you always, baby Mina