Eleven years ago, Mina was born into this world. I have no idea who her mother or father were. There is no birth certificate, no pedigree, no loving puppy photos of her on someone's mantle. I imagine her cuteness a lot, though. That perfect patch, the pink precious nose, the little socked feet, all so perfect. Oh! How adorable she must have been as a puppy!
She was bred, I do not know how many times. Somewhere out there are her descendants, pink-nosed, probably sassy, hopefully happy. My best guess is she lived indoors, possibly a garage for her early years. She had a perfect white chest when I first met her, twenty minutes in the sun added freckles. That is why I suppose she lived out of the sunlight. I don't know if she was mistreated or loved. When the animal control officer saw her running loose, ribs sticking out, a 4-foot-long, three-inch thick canvas belt looped tightly around her neck, she came up to him.
Mina showed her sensitive side at the shelter. Curled up in a ball, she laid listlessly in the back corner of her kennel. Only after repeated visits did she consider me worthy enough of a hand lick and wagging tail. On the day before her last hold day, she was attacked by one of the other dogs in the kennel. Not too serious, but several puncture wounds along her front leg. She did not fight back. I fell for her. Her eyes crossed in a ridiculously adorable manner. She looked and acted pathetically. Her gentle kisses and thumping tail broke my heart. I eagerly awaited her "temp-test", hoping she'd be placed in the adoption ward. She failed her temp test. I should rephrase - the temp test failed her. I refused to be yet another failure in her life.
I have never, ever, ever, ever regretted the decision to bring Mina home. I never will.
She is sassy. She is dog-tolerant, though socially awkward. She is a follower, prone to engaging in stupid behaviors if another dog leads the way. She loves sitting in your lap, gazing into your eyes, making you feel like the only wonderful person in the world. She loves children but in a different way than how she loves cats. The former she gives kisses to, tolerates tail tugs and ear pokes, the latter she would love to chase and maybe nibble on a bit. She feels pigs are her people, cattle and horse butts are too high to sniff, chickens should probably be chased and maybe de-feathered, ground squirrels are fun to leisurely trot after, and geese should be avoided at all costs.
She is shy, sometimes afraid of her own shadow. Dark places give her the shivers. New places must be thoroughly inspected. Going into stores is only enjoyable if she gets butt scratches and maybe a chance to head-butt another dog. My mom's raised-bed garden is about the best outdoor bed a dog could ask for. The fireplace would be even more enjoyable if the wood didn't crackle and sparks didn't fly. Mina loves curling up under the covers in the winter and stretching herself out above the covers in the summer. She respects bees, loves to eat grass and throw it back up, and finds snakes to be inordinately fascinating.
Celeste, she tolerates with grace. Bitey-face on the bed with Celeste is one of her favorite past-times. Playing in my parents yard is her third favorite, her first and second being some form of snoozing out in the sun. She has slowed down, her joints giving her some pain, her maneuverability diminished - sometimes she tries to make tight turns and bottoms out. Her shoulder gives her trouble. She is missing one of her canines, the result of a raw marrow bone getting stuck around her jaw, damaging the tooth. There is a yellow-patch of fur on her head, the result of a vicious attack on her doghood by another canine. She has a scar on her chest from her friendly neighborhood carcinoma.
She tolerates being dressed up, picked up, hugged, squished, tugged on, and squished some more. She tolerates it even more if cookies are involved. She loves tofu. Preferably fried in some olive oil. Also broccoli and hummus. Sometimes carrots, rarely apples.
She is leash-reactive. Sassy. Spitfire. In her younger days, she would flip herself over and over when she saw another dog. Embarrassing does not being to define those moments. Training. She thought this was great, another opportunity to whine, yell, generally act a fool around other leashed dogs. One class, a dog got loose and plowed into Mina. What? This is not how things are done. Appalled, she flipped over on her back, exposed. Mina is my mixed-message dog.
Mina has kept me sane. Made me insane. Kept me active, made me want to hide indoors to avoid her unruly leash behavior. She is stoic and strong, sweet and gentle. There are not appropriate words to describe the magnitude of love and fierce protection I feel for her. I want her to live forever. Selfish.
Mina is the best dog I have ever had the pleasure to welcome into my life.
On this arbitrary day, she turns eleven. I expect many years from her. It has been hard watching her slow down, but I will bask in her moments of zen-like meditation, her desire to slow it down a bit, to sniff longer and sun-bathe more.
Happy Birthday, Mina. You are an incredible, frustrating, amazingly wonderful dog. I expect you to live a kajillion more years.