Minnie came home to us in September of 2005. We had just returned to Tanzania, and we bought her from a friend was was breeding Jack Russells.
Minnie was our first baby.
I remember when we had had her for about a year, we thought she was going to die. We had a team from the States visiting us, and one morning, one of the guys told us that he thought Minnie had eaten his malaria pills. After unsuccessfully trying to get her to throw up, we called the vet. He told us there was nothing we could do, that she would die and it would probably take a few days. We were devastated, but we didn't want the team member to feel bad, so we didn't tell the team. For days, we waited with dread for her to die.
A week later, the guy casually told us that he had found the pills the next day, that Minnie hadn't eaten them after all. Having no idea of our inner turmoil, he hadn't bothered to tell us!
Since Minnie was our first baby, that's probably why, once we brought home a real baby, she went through a bit of a shock. For a couple months, she walked around like she was in constant pain, trembling and with an arched back. Again, we thought she would die, and I took her to the vet three times. Each time the vet found nothing wrong with her. In the end, she recovered, and we attributed it to sibling rivalry. And once Minnie discovered that this new baby provided a constant source of snacks, all was well.
Minnie was Grace's first playmate.
And when Grace was in first grade and dressed up like the Grinch, Minnie got to be Max. Daddy decided that Max needed to be brown, not white, so he dyed Minnie with henna. Except...she didn't turn brown, she turned orange. And she stayed orange for months.
Minnie gave us two litters of puppies.
Four in the first set.
And three in the second.
I gotta say, not much is cuter than Jack Russell puppies. They all went to friends and we still see many of them regularly.
A few years ago, Minnie broke her leg. (Well, her leg was actually run over, but that's another story.) The vet made a house call and sedated Minnie on our coffee table while he set her leg. Grace got to assist. Since then, she never liked using her back leg.
Minnie killed lots of critters, like any good Jack Russell. She was loyal and faithful and she loved us, even after we would leave for the States for months or even a year.
Last Saturday night, I could tell that Minnie wasn't feeling well. We worried about her all day Sunday, and on Monday I took her to the vet. He couldn't tell what was wrong with her, but gave her antibiotics and was optimistic.
Tuesday morning, I could tell that she had deteriorated. As soon as we got home from school, Lily and I jumped in the car and rushed to the vet. She died in Lily's arms minutes before we arrived. Ironically, she died on the same day that her second litter was born, six years ago.
Minnie used to sleep in the kids' room. But in the last several years, we had such a battle with ticks that Minnie spent most of her time outside. She and I had a nightly ritual when I would pull off about 25 ticks from her small body...every day. Thankfully, this last year she was finally tick-free.
I'm not really a dog person. We've always had dogs because they are important for security in Tanzania. We've had four other dogs die in the last few years, most of whom came to us when they were much older--and I really wasn't terribly traumatized. But Minnie is the only one we've had since she was a puppy. She was with us twelve years. She's shared our family history since before we even had children.
Losing Minnie makes me feel very old. Like I suddenly have an awareness of how much time has passed. It's so strange not having her around.