Jul 23, 2009

Mia Is Put To Rest

I buried Mia yesterday. She’s at an area called the Overlook on the grounds of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. My dogs--Hollywood, Rosy, Joey and, now, a new puppy named Sissy--were there. But a special moment before Mia’s placement was when a Chihuahua named Lois Lane, Mia’s inseparable pal for two months in 2005 at the Hurricane Katrina triage center, said her goodbyes to Mia. We had a viewing and Mia looked like she was sleeping. Lois licked Mia's face, eyes and ears, then it was as if she realized Mia wasn’t sleeping after all; Lois tucked her tail and kissed Mia again, then looked back at the rest of us. She knew. It’s amazing how much animals know and see. It could not have been a better or more sweet ceremony. Good friends who work at different areas of the sanctuary were there, including Sherry Woodard, animal behavior expert, Best Friends co-founders Faith Maloney and Anne Mejia, and Yvonne McIntosh, who runs Best Friends' potbellied pig department. Jennifer Hayes, an editor for Best Friends' Web site, took beautiful photos. Also there were Sandy Miller, a Best Friends writer, adoption coordinators Pat and Larry Donoho, animal caregivers Kersten Muthreich and Joyce Wallace, and adoptions manager Kristi Littrell. Mia touched so many; they gave her much love and Mia, who had such a big heart, returned it with gusto. Also there to say their goodbyes were my good friends Harriet and Al Needleman, who drove up from Las Vegas for the service (and they didn't drive up just once; they thought it was the day before, realized it was the wrong day when they arrived, drove home, then returned the next day). It was their first time at the sanctuary and they fell in love with Angel Canyon, where the sanctuary sits on 33,000 acres. As Harriet said, "It's beautiful and so peaceful." Officiating at the ceremony was Best Friends' staffer John Sichta, who did a beautiful job. He placed a plaque, with Mia's photo, with her marker--a stepping stone--along with a large sandstone rock from Red Rock Canyon, where Mia hiked more than a hundred times in the nearly four years she was with me. She loved it up there, and so it was fitting that a rock from one of her favorite places marks her resting place. Her plaque reads, "Goodbye, my sweet Katrina survivor. You loved and touched so many. You will live on forever in our hearts. Harriet read a Rudyard Kipling poem, which started with this: "If there's a doggy heaven, I know that's where you are, About a million miles away, Standing on a star." For my part, I described how Jeff Popowich, rapid responders at the time for Best Friends, rescued Mia from a pool deck at a factory-turned-apartment complex in New Orleans. I also quoted Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet, about death:

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides that it may rise and expand? Only when you drink into the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountaintop, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
Photos of Harriet Needleman speaking at the ceremony, Mia’s gravesite, and Mia, at the viewing, and Sherry Woodard with Sissy, by Jennifer Hayes.


  1. What an incredible place! I look forward to visiting.

  2. I'm so sorry Cathy...my daughter and I met you and Mia at the book store in the Galleria Mall...I'm Harriet's daughter-in-law's sister, Heather. Mia was such a sweetie, just sitting on the table next to you, your little sidekick. You're the reason the last years of her life were wonderful! Take care, you'll see her at the Rainbow Bridge!

  3. Heather,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. So very nice. I remember you from the book signing. Mia was a special spirit and I'm so glad you got to meet her.

    I hope all is well with you.


  4. Cathy,you know how much I loved Mia.I wish I could have been there for her service,the wind chimes must have gone crazy as she crossed the bridge. She will never be forgotten.

  5. From the day you met Mia, to this
    day seems a complete circle of a
    bond. But I think it continues, in-
    side that circle and outside that
    circle. Mia prances and dances in
    your dreams. Do you feel her when
    you're awake? The separation of
    life and death is our mystery, open to interpretation. What a
    celebration of life Mia has been.
    Your bond will never be broken and
    how can there be death when that
    bond lives?

  6. I'm all tear here, I'm so sorry. I found it so amazing when the other dog was licking her. May she rest in piece.
    Your love will make her stronger.
    I found out just two days before, a blind old girl dog I wanted to adopt was already dead. But I have other 3 foster dog, cats, and 4 turtles adopted so got stand up for them ^_^

  7. I don't really know what to say except - I know. It's the hardest thing in the world. They give us so much and I think we all feel like we don't / can't ever give them enough back.

    Thank you for sharing. And I'm sorry.