Mia came to us in 2014. Two years before we had adopted Bear as a Black Lab-mix puppy. What we didn't know is that the mix was part Great Dane. Bear went from a cute 8 lbs puppy to a Bear Monster of over 100 lbs. Our other pups at the time -- Blake, Beau and Ginny Weasley -- wanted nothing to do with playing with such a large beast. So we decided to look for a play companion for Bear. And along came Mia. We saw her online with the Memphis Animal Services. Over the years we had adopted several dogs from MAS (Rusty, Blake & Bear), so we decided to go see her in person.|
MAS had listed Mia as a smooth coated Collie, but one look at her showed she was no Collie. She looked more like a Retriever/Shiba Inu mix. And she was blowing coat. No one at MAS had combed her and it seemed like her entire body was covered with a second coat of fur. As we petted her, our hands pulled out tufts & tufts of hair. Mia was a very happy girl who loved people. She had been an owner surrender, but no specific reasons had been given for the surrender.
As we were deciding whether we wanted to adopt Mia, we discovered that a local rescue group (Perfect Match Animal Rescue) had taken Mia. I talked with Perfect Match and explained our situation. We had delayed adopting Mia because we weren't sure things would work. If our current group didn't get along with Mia, we didn't want her to have to go back to MAS. Lesley with Perfect Match calmed our fears. We could foster Mia for a month or two, and se how things worked. If things went well, would could then adopt. If not, Perfect Match would take her back. This seemed perfect and so Mia came into our home.
Mia seemed to adjust to her new home very quickly. When we left for work everyday we always crated Bear, and not knowing how Mia would do on her own we also crated her. The first week there were no issues. But the second week when I got home, there to meet me at the door was Blake, Beau, Ginny Weasley -- and Mia! I checked her crate and both bolts were still locked, yet there she was. When I put her in the crate the next day, I made sure both bolts were secure. But when I got home that afternoon, there again to meet me was Mia. Her crate was a mess, but the bolts were still locked. We decided that she should have been named Houdini. The next day we decided to try leaving Mia out during the day and came home to find everything perfect. So from that day on we no longer crated our new girl.
About 4 months after we got Mia, Carrie & I left for a long-planned trip to Ireland. We would be gone almost 2 weeks and so we got a house/pet sitter to look after things. The sitter came highly regarded, so we felt comfortable going. However, when we got home, we found Mia quite distressed. Our instructions were to feed everyone in the morning, let them out and make sure they did their business, then let them in to settle back down. The sitter let them out but instead of watching he went and showered and got ready for work. He didn't let them back in until 20 minutes to a half hour later. We discovered that this had caused Mia to regress. She was now fearful of even going out. And when she did, she just stayed on the porch and would not go into the yard. She was doing her business either on the porch or inside the house. It took many days of working with Mia, sometimes for an hour at a time, to try and coax her back out into the yard. We would offer her treats and she would come out and take it, but then race back to the porch. After nearly a week, we finally got her to go into the yard to do her business, but she would always race back to go inside. It was many months before we got her back to staying outside for more than a minute or two.
Mia was also not very sure about trusting us. I think because she had a family who gave up on her. It was almost a year after we got her that one day I was laying on the couch when Mia came and laid down at my feet. As I reached down to pet her, she turned on her back and let me rub her tummy. She finally felt comfortable enough to feel "at home". But it was still several years later before Mia would finally jump up into our lap. Once she discovered that we would hold her and pet her, this became one of her favorite things to do. She was a fairly big girl -- about 45 lbs and very long legs -- but she would jump in your lap and lean into your body. She wanted to get as close as possible to you. She discovered that loving was a good thing.
When we first got Mia, we realized that she had a very boney head. Every vet who ever saw her always commented on the lack on muscle mass on her head. As far as we know, it did not hurt Mia in any way nor did it cause any mental defects. The doctors always commented that it might cause her some issues in her later years. But to us, she was just our boney-headed girl.
Mia was our youngest, and generally our healthiest pup. Over the years we lost Blake (Sheltie), and then Ginny Weasley (Spaniel mix). All our pets were hitting their senior years and we felt like Mia would probably be the last to go. Then one Saturday Bear was having issues. I collected a sample of his urine and saw blood in it. With our regular vet being closed, we rushed Bear to the emergency vet. After getting some treatment & drugs for a bladder infection, we brought him home. When we walked in the door, Beau and Mai met us and were doing their regular jumping and barking. And we walked everyone to the back door to let them all out, about halfway there Mia suddenly stopped. As I opened the back door and tried to get Mia to come out, she just gave us a puzzled look. She slowly circled and then laid down. And she never got up. We had another dog years earlier who had the same symptoms and passed in our arms. We felt Mia was suffering some kind of stroke. We thought about rushing her to the emergency vet, but it was a good half hour away. We petted & stroked her and told her she was a good girl and that we loved her. I looked into Mia's eyes and saw that they were unresponsive. In about 10 minutes her breathing stopped and she was gone.
Since then the house has become so quiet. Mia loudly let you know when it was time for breakfast & dinner. But she was also so very gentle. Never in all the years we had her did she ever snap anything from your hand. She would always take things very gently. And while we got her as a companion for Bear, the one who loved her the most was Beau, our little Sheltie. Beau didn't like things going quickly, so he rarely played with our dogs. But Mia would take things slow with him and he started playing with her. It got to the point where Beau would come in the evening and groom Mia. When she left us, it hit Beau the hardest. For several months he was not himself, missing his girlfriend. Only recently has Beau started to come out of his shell of grief.
I have tried starting this memorial for Mia so many times, but could never get through it. Over our 25+ years together, Carrie & I have adopted 14 pets (10 dogs and 2 cats). And over the years, we have said goodbye to 10 of them. With so many things in life, the more you do it the easier and/or smoother it becomes. But not with saying goodbye. I find that each goodbye has become more difficult. And that the grief seems to be deeper and last longer than the one before. And so Mia I apologize for the shortness of this memorial. Partly because it is so hard to write. But also partly because I've grown older and my memory is not what it once was. I am sure there are many things, many memories, that I would & should include, but they escape me at this moment. And to that I am sorry my sweet girl. Just know that our love for you still burns deeply in our hearts. And it always will. Love, Dad.
* September 26, 2021. Oh sweetie, it is so hard to believe it has been a year since you left us. We still miss hearing our "Mouthy Broad" and having you jump in our laps for some loving. Things are so much quieter and less hectic, but we would trade it all to have you back. You are missed & Loved, Miss Mia. Rest easy, sweet girl. Love, Dad.