In 2005, I was involved with a man who cheated on me several times. It was one of the worst relationships in my life. We lived together and he wanted a dog: a male husky. I thought this was a sign that he was committing to me and our life together, but of course, I was wrong.
We found a dog at the West Orange Animal Welfare League in West Orange, New Jersey, using Petfinder. She was a female and not a husky, but he wanted to take a look so we went to see her. She was a ball of anxiety and a year and a half old, which was their best guess. Super mouthy, she was nomming on my fingers and couldn't stop jumping. I knew she would be a handful, but he wanted her. We walked out of the shelter with Raina and went home.
The next months were filled with excited urination, increasing mouthing, and a real skill for pulling out of any collar or harness we put her in. At one point in the tiny yard we had, she had been biting at my feet and finally launched herself at me. I used the side of my leg to kick her away from me and it made an impact on her. After that point, she looked to me as her superior. I learned how to ignore her upon first entry at the house so she could hold her bladder easier. I learned how to teach her about mouthing. I found a collar that held her when she tried to pull a duck and run.
She became my best friend and I turned to her for comfort when my relationship deteriorated. I came home one night early from a friend's birthday party to find the guy on our couch with another woman. We were in the process of breaking up. I was more upset that the woman was petting Raina than I was that she was there in the first place. I bought out the adoption fee, took the adoption papers, and Raina and I moved out soon thereafter. She was my girl and she was coming with me.
I was driving home to Pennsylvania and meeting my family down in the Outer Banks, NC, where they were on vacation. I dropped Raina off at the family kennel in PA, and began the drive down to NC to grieve and spend time with my relatives. I was excited that my girl was going to meet the old boy I grew up with, Henry, a Bernese Mountain dog who was my childhood best friend.
On the way home from North Carolina, we received a phone call from the family friend who was petsitting Henry telling us that he had passed in his sleep. He was 18 years old. Raina never got to meet Henry and I never got to say goodbye to him, not in the way I wanted to anyway.
Raina and I lived with my parents for a while until I went back to finish grad school in NJ. She stayed with them and I finished my masters. After I graduated, I started making plans to move to NC. My family and I had always talked about moving down to the area and Raleigh-Durham was known for its biotech industry. I made plans to rent a room in a house in Raleigh, get a job in biotech, and start saving money to get my own place so Raina could join me. All of that happened within eight months of my moving down and Raina joined me in our new condo in Durham. That was in 2007.
Fast forward to 2011 and I saw a picture of Squiggy via a network of dog rescues I follow on Facebook. He looked like a mini-Raina and I forwarded the picture to my mother. She inquired as to his adoption status and I facilitated his transport from Georgia to my house in NC. I planned to foster him from August when I picked him up until Thanksgiving when I'd see my parents again. In that time together, though, we bonded very strongly and Squiggy became a foster failure.
He had a tough life and acclimating to living a structured life - and one with another dog, whom he found difficult to trust - was stressful for him. But he also bonded with Raina. Not as strongly as he did with me, but she loved him so much and often mothered him.
Raina's anxiety never resolved completely, but she was always happiest when she was with me. I was her home and all she needed. We all moved across the country twice together and they just needed me to know where home was. As she matured, she did become a more confident dog. She developed a love for most other animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and anything else that would let her sniff them. Her nickname was "Sniffy Longstocking" and dogs were pretty much her favorite thing ever. She was never motivated by food, but always let me give her meds or anything else she needed, even when she wouldn't let anyone else near her.
It's been less than 24 hours and I miss her more than I can say. I wasn't sure how Squiggy was going to react, but he knows she's gone. At first, he didn’t realize what was happening. He stood off to the side and sniffed the doctor, then he sniffed Raina, but just a little, and buried himself in my side. I was laying on my stomach on the floor and Raina's forehead and mine were together as I held her head and listened to her take her last breaths. After she was gone, he got up and laid down by her on the blanket.
He hasn't left my side since and comforts me when I can't stop crying.
He's been very mellow and sedate, and has been sleeping with her collar. We're grieving the loss of this beautiful creature who taught us both so much. We're grieving the loss of our girl.