Jun 14, 2009

Losing Mia

The thing that has always been paramount in Mia's care, treating her naturally and trying to push back the progression of an inevitably fatal heart disease, was to give her a chance for a longer life. And she got that. She lived far longer--about three years--than her veterinarian had predicted. What will forever stand out in my memories of Mia was her huge will to live. The last couple of days, though, I think she was holding on for me. She wanted to be in the living room, on the hardwood floor, those last couple of nights, so I slept on the sofa. In the middle of the night that last day, she woke me up by putting her paws on the sofa, nudging me. I opened my eyes and looked at her and knew she was in trouble. I picked her up and she stopped breathing, so I resusciated her, then gave her oxygen. She recovered and settled in, then fell asleep. It was at that point that I knew it was too much for Mia to go through. My friend Faith Maloney had told me a couple weeks earlier that with severe illnesses in our pets, we know what the end will be; we just don't know when it will be. "'When the time is right," she said, "you'll know." And so it was in the early morning hours of June 4 that I knew it was over. Mia, who was always affectionate, had been particularly clingy her last couple of days, wanting me to hold her and following me--slowly--from room to room. She wanted to be picked up so she could rest on my shoulder--her favorite spot. So that's what I did for her. I held her, with her head resting on my shoulder--always the left shoulder (her preference)) and never the right. She lifted her head, gave me a lick, then lay her head down again. I remembered then the day I met her, the second week in September, 2005. She was shivering with fright after being pulled from stormwater from the pool deck at the American Can Company apartment complex in New Orleans. A volunteer -- whose name I never knew--walked up to me at the triage center in Tylertown, Miss., set up by Best Friends Animal Society and asked me if the little frightened Chihuahua could stay with me for the rest of the day. She said she'd be back later. Mia climbed up my chest and rested her head on my left shoulder. The volunteer never returned, and Mia stayed with me in Tylertown for two months, then she went home with me. Mia has been such an inspiration. If ever a dog fought to live, it was Mia. She loved life. I took her and her sister Rosy and brother Woody to Calico Basin in Red Rock Canyon a few days before she passed. It was early evening and there was a soft breeze. I put Mia down next to a bush and she sniffed it, did her business, then looked up at me to be picked up. We followed Rosy and Woody into a clearing, with a water hole. I sat with Mia on a red-rock boulder and watched Woody swim and Rosy wade. The wind rustled the mesquite trees. Mia lifted her head into the breeze. I didn't know then that it would be her last trip up there. She loved the canyon and spent hours running like she was king of the hill. I've always said Calico Basin is like my dogs' back yard, and it is. They know it like the back of their paws and have romped on the floor of the canyon since their first days with me. It was a fitting final outing for Mia. When she is buried at Overlook Rest on the grounds of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, a red rock from the canyon will be placed at her grave. Mia's little service is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22, 2009, in Angel Canyon in southern Utah. Soon, I'll be posting comments here from people who knew and loved Mia. With all her heart, she loved every single one of them back.

No comments:

Post a Comment