Once upon a time, I was a house/dog sitter. When folks with animals traveled out of town, they contacted me to stay at their place and take care of their animals.
One of my clients was a woman with a dog named, Lina. I loved when Lina’s owner went out of town, because Lina was one of my favorite pooches to visit.
Lina and I became very close. When Lina’s Mom was given an opportunity to relocate to Massachusetts for work/school, she asked me if I wanted to adopt her. I literally jumped at the chance, and Lina became MY Lina.
Lina had fancy tricks she could do on command. For instance, when you took Lina outside all you had to say was “Lina, go vote”, and Lina would go pee or poop. True story.
Lina was also bilingual. If she was getting into something and/or you were tired of having her breath in your face, all you had to say was “Lina, raus”, and she would go away. (Raus is German for ‘get out’.)
Lina was also famous for her – ahem – gas. She had the ability to pass gas without making a sound, but the knowledge of the gas would be obvious to everyone in the room within seconds.
But wait, there is more.
During a camping trip, five of us (plus Lina) were gathered around a campfire. We were in the midst of a conversation and suddenly everyone (but me) shot up and ran to the other side of the campfire. True story. Apparently Lina, who was sitting quietly next to me, had just passed gas.
Yep, Lina could clear campsites with her gas.
Lina had a wicked good Darth Vader impression, too. If you were sleeping longer than she’d like, or you were not petting her when she thought she should be petted, she would put her face close to you and breathe like Darth Vader. I swear. I could hear her Darth Vader voice say “Lenore, you are my walker. Wake up.” “Lenore, you are my servant. Pat me.”
Did I mention Lina was a Rottweiler? Lina was a Rottweiler. She was the nicest Rottweiler ever placed on the face of this earth, of that I am certain.
Lina liked cats, too. When she and I were living in an in-law suite, the owners of the house had two cats. One of the cats was named “Deaf Kitty” because she was deaf. (Creative name, eh?) Deaf Kitty always came to visit Lina. She would nudge her face on Lina’s muzzle, and she would follow her around the yard. I never tired of seeing Lina and Deaf Kitty together. Their relationship was special.
Lina had another friend named Bud. Bud was a Jack Russell. Lina was this huge Rottie, and Bud was a small Jack. Bud and Lina got along splendidly, and I am embarrassed to say I spent many nights with my friends entertained by Bud and Lina. (We had a life. I promise.)
My friends and I would be hanging out in the living room with both dogs. Then we would give the dogs a sock, and we would watch as Lina and Bud played tug. Of course, when a Rottie is playing tug with a Jack, the Rottie pretty much stands there while the Jack growls and hops left to right, trying desperately (and in vain) to pull the sock from the mouth of the Rottie.
Bud was always up to the challenge, and Lina was always willing to stand there patiently. I may have seen Lina laugh at Bud a few times, but I cannot be too certain.
Lina was with me for 8 yrs, and many of my friends were fortunate enough to meet her. She had the ability to make friends with non-dog lovers. Really. She knew no enemies, and everyone she met left as a friend.
Lina traveled with me to DC two or three times, while I spent time with friends. She visited happily with Shiloh the cat and Mickey the dog. My friends always opened their doors to Lina.
Shortly after Rob and I were married, we rescued 7wk old pups named, Wilbur and Cherokee. Lina welcomed Wilbur and Cherokee into our home, and she put up with the young pups, as they hopped all over her and nibbled on her ears.
When Rob and I were trying to start a family of humans, I was nervous. I was genuinely concerned I would not be able to love a baby as much as I loved Lina. Or worse – I would love the baby more than Lina, and Lina would be heartbroken. Lina was my everything.
With all sincerity, I am happy to say I never had to share my love with Lina and my boys simultaneously. Though I miss Lina greatly and I can still be brought to tears thinking about her, Lina passed before my oldest child was born.
Lina’s kidneys were failing. For a month or two, I gave her IV treatments of saline to help flush her kidneys and keep her with me longer. My vet adored Lina, and she told me I would know when it was time to let go.
Saturday morning Memorial Day weekend 2004, I found my 13yr old Lina in the kitchen, and I knew it was time. Sobbing, I called my vet, who said she would come to the house around Noon to put Lina to sleep. Yes, my vet made a house-call, and I was grateful and touched.
Lina died peacefully, though I was a blubbering mess. While Rob buried Lina in the backyard, my friend Michelle spent the afternoon with me at home, letting me blubber and sob at the loss of my love.
Earlier this July, a friend of mine had to put down her beloved horse, Faith. When I heard the news, my heart ached. I shared the story of Lina with my friend, and I let her know that I truly empathized with her grief. The day she was to put Faith down, I had two candles burning in the beloved horse’s honor.
I thought nothing of the support I provided my friend, because the support was sincere. And selfishly, by helping her let go of Faith, I was able to relive and talk about my beloved Lina.
… then came the Dog Gone Good Contest.
Inspired by a picture I saw on Jackie Cangro’s blog, I decided to have a dog photo contest. In the post announcing the contest I posted my very favorite picture of Lina. The picture was taken while we were living with Deaf Kitty.
Unbeknownst to me, my friend (who is an artist) snagged the picture of Lina and went to work.
Last week, I received an email from my friend asking me to reply back when I was sitting at my computer and ‘available’. I replied, and I anxiously waited to see what she needed.
What followed blew me away. As I sit here now my heart is fluttering just thinking about it.
My friend took my favorite picture of Lina and created a masterpiece. With her blessing, I share it with you. (I also invite you to check out her websites: ElemayArt and DesignsbyHeart, both of which donate proceeds to various animal organizations.)
Thank you, Laura. Thank you very much.
Please do not forget to vote in the Dog Gone Good Contest.