Friday, May 1, 2015

The Bright Side of Life

All day on Wednesday, my beloved pug, Mimi was on my mind. I spent about two hours looking through photos of her; remembering her cuddles and warmth in my arms; remembering her funny pug-noises; remembering her silliness; remembering how much love and joy she brought me at a time when I didn’t have much to be happy about. When Mimi came to us, it had been three arduous years that we had been dreaming of having a baby. She became that baby for us. She became that someone we longed to nurture. 

I fell asleep on Wednesday night with Mimi on my mind and I awoke with thoughts of her again. On Thursday morning I wondered, “Why is she on my mind so much?” and it hit me! Friday, May 1st is her birthday. AND…It’s my blog anniversary! Isn’t it amazing what the subconscious can do? I’m a huge dates person, and frequently whatever is on my mind, coincides with an upcoming date.

I never gave Mimi a “proper” memorial on Facebook. It was too painful and sad to announce that she had passed. Mimi died on May 16, 2011 and I grieved as deeply as I would have for a child, because Mimi was my child for nine glorious years.

In her honor and in honor of my one year blogging anniversary today, I want to share something I wrote the day before we euthanized her. (It was an email I sent to a few people.)

On Sunday, December 1, 2002 DJ and I anxiously waited in a Mervyn’s parking lot in Redlands. I was nervous as could be; giddy with anticipation; elated and overjoyed. When the car pulled up next to us, I was smiling from ear to ear. Little did I know how much my life was about to change. The woman opened the back of her van and pulled out a noisy, dirty, smelly pug dog named Mimi who was approximately six-years-old. She put Mimi down on the grass and I immediately fell to the ground to greet her. Mimi gave me a thousand kisses and wagged her curly tail ferociously. I literally felt like we were a long-lost mother and daughter reunited for the first time. I scooped her up in my arms as she continued to make funny pug noises. It was truly love at first sight. I fell madly, deeply in love with my petite little munchkin-pumpkin from the moment our eyes met. There was nothing to think about – I knew she belonged with me.

We drove the whole way home with her in my lap and we laughed at her snorting and heavy breathing. She also stunk up the car. She had been kept at a kennel for over a week and wreaked of dirty dog. On the way home we stopped at PetSmart and stocked up on all kinds of goodies for our new family member. I couldn’t believe my dream of having a dog was finally coming true after so many years of thinking I could never own a dog after I married DJ (who is allergic to dogs).
Mimi's first few weeks home. DJ made her an outdoor bed
out of PVC pipes and outdoor fabric.

Mimi was extra special though. Not only did she fulfill my dream of having a dog, she also filled a deep void in my life of needing and wanting a baby. For three years we had been in “want-a-baby” mode and she was my reward after a second failed artificial insemination. I desperately needed something to nurture and love and she gave me the opportunity to be the mommy I yearned to be. I treasured Mimi from day one. I felt that she was a precious gift. She pulled me out of a depression and brought me smiles and laughter during my darkest days. She gave me a reason to get up in the morning. When I cried after unsuccessful attempt after attempt to conceive, she was there to lick my tears and to cuddle with me. And everyday that I came home from work, she threw me a party with her happy, peppy, little trot and her wagging, curly tail. I bought her toys and clothes and treats and spoiled her rotten for Christmas. I took hundreds of pictures of her and stared at her in awe and admiration at how perfectly beautiful and silly she was. We took her everywhere with us just as we would have a baby. She went to visit family and friends with us. She went shopping and out to eat with us too. She went on vacations with us and rode in the car in a doggie booster seat. She was our little pride and joy.

In her booster seat.
Our 1st Christmas

Five days after having Mimi home with us, she was diagnosed with Mast Cell Tumors. Maybe someone else would have returned her to the rescue group but I couldn’t even dream it. I was devastated to learn of her health condition but I knew she had been brought into my life for a reason. It became my mission to help her heal and recover from the cancer. Over the years, I’ve lost count of how many tumors she’s had removed, but the last I remember it was in the high 30’s. She underwent chemo twice. She had a melanoma removed on her forehead. She swallowed a chicken bone once at the park. She gagged on food and fainted once. She had an elongated palate repaired. She had countless UTI’s and ear infections. She had hip dysplasia or something similar where the hip joints were eroding. She had a near-death experience with a case of “Bloat” and had to stay overnight in the ER. Actually, I can’t even remember the number of times we went to the ER with her for a variety of reasons. And I don’t want to know the thousands upon thousands of dollars we spent on her medical bills. She’s taken numerous supplements over the years – Benadryl, Colostrum, Co-Enzyme Q10, Glucosamine, Pepcid AC, Psyllium Husk, Kelp, Cranberry, Noni Juice, Flaxseed Oil, Omega 3 & 6, Yucca Powder, Garlic, and not to mention all of the prescription drugs. Every week, since the very beginning, we have cooked for her a human grade mixture of ground turkey and vegetables. She’s even been to a holistic vet. She is what I lovingly call my “Million Dollar Pug”.

Our 1st Mother's Day
In 2004 when our baby prayers were answered with the adoption of my little boy, Mimi became a guardian dog. She would bark and paw at me to see the baby and if he cried, she’d lick his leg. She slept by his bassinet when he was sleeping and lay by his swing when he was awake. When my little boy began to eat Cheerios, she became his best friend and biggest fan for life.

In 2007 Mimi was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy which is a disease of the spinal cord. Up until yesterday, I wasn’t aware of the seriousness of the disease. I knew that it affected the way she walked and that she didn’t have full sensation in her paws. As it has become increasingly difficult for her to walk, I've been carrying her in a baby sling. I did not know though that it would eventually lead to paralysis. Yesterday, for the first time since her diagnosis, Mimi started to show signs of paralysis. She has little to no mobility in her hind legs. She hasn’t been able to stand or walk except for a split second today. I’ve had to hold her up to eat and pee. She has just lied in my lap or in her bed all day. Her will to move and get up are almost non-existent today. My heart is broken. I’m not ready to say good-bye.

How do I say good-bye to the little munchkin who lies in my lap everyday while I’m on the computer? How do I say good-bye to my little angel-girl who is my shadow and companion day in and day out? How do I say good-bye to one of the brightest spots in my life? How do I say good-bye to one of the greatest gifts infertility gave me? But most importantly, how do I thank this little miracle girl for all the joy and love she has given me for the last nine years? I can’t imagine my life without her in it. I can’t imagine waking up every morning and not having her to greet me and wait for her food. I can’t imagine not giving her a hundred kisses on her dry nose every day. I can’t imagine my little boy not having his little buddy to talk baby-talk to and show her his new toys.

My dear sweet Miss Mimi. I love you with all my heart and soul and I thank you for your loyalty and companionship, for your cuddles and kisses, for your love and warmth, for all the happiness and joy you gave me, and for the blissful memories you allowed me to make with you. I don’t want to say good-bye ever. I need you here with me forever.

Please say a prayer. I’m going to the vet tomorrow and hoping for a miracle but in my heart I know the end is very near.


The next morning, Monday, May 16, 2011, DJ and I dropped off our little boy at school. Mimi was in the car with us. We had him say an extra-long good-bye to her, imagining that it would be the last time he saw her.

When we arrived at the vet, he told us it didn’t look good. He explained that the x-ray showed that she was completely backed-up with feces. (The lack of nerve sensations, along with her hip issues had prevented her from being able to evacuate completely. Additionally, he believed that she also may have had a tumor growing inside that was blocking her intestines.) Her low body temperature indicated that she was going into shock. The toxins in her body were shutting down her organs and affecting her brain. He recommended euthanizing her, as she was suffering and in a lot of pain.

We knew it was time yet it was the hardest decision to make and I don’t wish it on anyone. DJ and I wanted my sister, Serena, there with us. She is the biggest, most passionate dog-lover and advocate I have ever known in my life and we needed her to give us strength to go forward with our decision to say good-bye. She comforted and consoled us through her own tears, as she reassured us that we were doing the right thing.

As I held Mimi in my arms and the vet gave her the injection, I buried my face into her neck and repeated over and over and over again “Thank you, Mimi, thank you, thank you, thank you, Mimi, thank you...” I was surprised that those were the words coming out, but in that moment I was overcome with a deep sense of gratitude for this sweet angel who had saved me so long ago.

I always preach that for every bad experience we have, something good comes from it. I have a long list of good things that have resulted from bad situations. However, it occurred to me yesterday that I didn’t know what good had come out of losing Mimi. Six weeks after losing her, we had an adoption fall through. It was excruciatingly painful and more salt on the open wound we still had from losing Mimi. Eleven weeks after losing her, we had a successful adoption and brought home our baby girl. But I don’t see that as a direct result of losing Mimi.

So I pondered for a while, What was the positive that I had missed? I concluded that the good that came out of losing Mimi was my immense gratitude for her. I had always felt grateful for her, but when I had to say good-bye, I realized just how deep my gratitude was because they were the only words I could utter. Losing my precious girl taught me the true meaning of appreciating what you have and what it has given you.

Since Sunday, I’ve had the phrase “Look on the bright side of life” stuck in my head. I wanted to do an art journal page or create a “photo quote” with it for my Facebook blog page. That is what prompted me to start going through old photos of Mimi...Because I remembered so many pictures I took of her over the years, sitting wherever the sun was hitting. She always looked for the bright spot.

I feel that is the other positive I take away from losing her… Mimi taught me that there is always a bright side. When life seemed unbearable and unfair, Mimi brought me joy and she became the bright side of my life. I love you, munchkin-pumpkin. Happy Birthday! And thank you, Mimi.

And thank YOU, dear friends, for this past year of reading my words, offering me support and encouragement, and allowing me to fulfill what I believe is part of my purpose, but most of all for making me feel like what I have to say matters.

Remember to always look on the bright side of life, friends. And keep being brave.


  1. Awww...sending love to sweet sweet Mimi (and you) today!


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