May 23, 2010

You Can Go Home Again

"How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. You can never go home again." 
--James Agee

My friend Barb Davis, a photographer in her spare time, shot this beautiful photo of Mia (above) that I just had to share.

The photo was taken in New Orleans when Barb, Carol Guzy and I were there for Best Friends Animal Society's participation in the annual Barkus Parade (a part of Mardi Gras).

It was on that same trip that we took Mia to her previous home, to the American Can Co., a Mid City apartment complex converted from a factory and from where Mia had been rescued.

No one had come forward to claim her, even though her face and her story were on the Internet pretty much everywhere. She was listed on Petfinder as well.

When we pulled into a small parking lot at the front of American Can Apartments on Orleans Avenue, Mia sat up and looked out the window, her head darting in every direction. She looked up at the building, then looked back at me. I lifted her out of the car and she wiggled to be put on the ground. When I did, she practically dragged me on her leash up the steps to the main door. It was locked. She stood there looking up at it, wagging her tail, then looking back at me to open it.

It was quite a moment. Barb was right behind Mia as she pulled me toward the door. "It was so sweet," Barb said. "It was like she wanted to show you where she had lived."

We walked around the large complex of buildings to the back, from where Mia had been rescued on the swimming pool deck from four feet of water. It wasn't until the second rescue day at American Can that the rapid response team members Ethan Gurney and Jeff Popowich could get her and one other Chihuahua from a small corner of dry concrete they'd huddled on. The day before, Mia and two other Chihuahuas swam away from the rescuers.

Once we walked onto the patio deck, Mia wanted to be held. It was obvious she remembered what had gone down there, and her demeanor changed dramatically. She jumped up on my leg to be picked up, so I carried her the rest of the time. We returned to the front of the complex.

We didn't know at the time that Mia had just a little more than a year left to live. Reflecting back now, it was a fitting reunion for her, and a trip to the American Can I'm thankful we made. It was as if Mia had gone full circle, like visiting an old friend. She was home again, and she knew it.

As the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, rescuers are having their own reunion in New Orleans. And Best Friends, to remember, is posting two stories a week on its Web site, beginning June 1, until the August 30 anniversary.

Who says you can never go home again? On a February day in New Orleans, Louisiana, Mia went home again. And she was happy for it.

My book, Pawprints of Katrina (above), covers Mia's and other stories about the tremendous animal rescue efforts, the largest ever in U.S. history. Read it here.

Photos by Barb Davis. Book cover by Clay Myers.


  1. I am sorry for your loss. I had two Katrina rescues and they were in a shelter for over a year before I got them.

    One had cancer when i adopted him and the other a girl was old and blind. She was with us for a little over a year before she passed.

    It still hurts and I miss them.

  2. I think part of the reason we love our pets so fiercely is because we know, if only on a subconscious level, that we will most likely outlive them, and that our time with them is limited and therefore precious. It doesn't make the loss any easier to bear when the time comes, though, so as an adaptive response it leaves something to be desired... But to be able to memorialize Mia and so many others through your work is a rare gift, and a fitting memorial to the love you shared.
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