anne mikolay 2012 120If you have never loved and lost a pet, read no further because nothing I say herein will make any sense to you.

On November 3rd, 2015, I lost my best friend, a small, fawn colored, short haired chihuahua….my precious Tiny Girl.

In 2005, I began searching for a dog to adopt. My criteria was simple. I wanted a chihuahua who needed to be loved and to give love. Thus, my family and I adopted a three pound, female chihuahua appropriately named “Tiny.” Though I had a different name picked out for our new addition, Tiny answered to her given name, and I opted not to change it. Tiny was born in a Texas puppy mill and spent the first few years of her life locked in a dirty cage where she learned fear, loneliness, hunger, pain, and suffering. Despite her size, she had given birth in the puppy mill, and she nearly died. Thankfully, Tiny was rescued from the puppy mill and somehow found her way to a temporary home on Staten Island, where a loving foster mom nursed her back to health. When we adopted Tiny, her foster mom described her as a “whisper of a spirit in the house,” a gentle dog, but riddled with anxiety and sadness.

tiny mikolayTiny was, indeed, an anxious dog. She fearfully walked around our house with her tail stuck between her legs for weeks. We brought her home from Staten Island on a Friday; she was so traumatized by the move that she was afraid to go to the bathroom and did not do so until the following Monday. Early that morning, the poor thing emptied her bladder all over the dining room rug and immediately cowered, expecting a beating. She did not get one. I wrapped her in a blanket and held her in my arms for hours. That day, I promised Tiny nobody would ever hurt her again. I promised her a life of shelter, warmth, and unconditional love. Tiny became my little shadow, the joy of my heart.

Tiny's life was not easy. She had physical problems (epilepsy, and in later years, congestive heart failure) and emotional scars from her days in the puppy mill. She never felt safe or happy with any people other than my family. Tiny's security and safety was paramount. Before too long, we became the center of her world; she became the center of ours. We shared ten wonderful years together, but on November 3rd, my darling, little girl could no longer breath. Long story short, I had to make the very tough decision that all pet lovers fear.

I let her go.

A light has gone out in my life. Without Tiny Girl, the house is empty; I am empty. As with all grief, life now becomes a succession of firsts: the first time I walked through the door, and she was not there to wag her tail and happily greet me; the first walk without her; the first sleep without her curled at my feet on the bottom of the bed; the first pizza without her begging for a nibble of cheese; the first ray of sunshine beaming on Tiny's pillow without her basking in its warmth.

How do pet “moms and dads” get over the loss of their beloved fur baby? As the saying goes, it takes a village. I could not have handled these first sad days without the support of family, friends, and caring veterinary professionals. I would like to publicly thank the skilled, warmhearted veterinarians and technicians at Middletown Animal Hospital, who tended to Tiny's needs through the years. Most especially, I am grateful to Tiny's personal vet, Dr. Thomas Curro, for looking after Tiny through her illnesses and for bringing her earthly life to a gentle end.

I have known loss before, though familiarity makes the path ahead no less difficult. Someday, there will be another first...the first day I truly accept that Tiny is gone and is now truly “a whisper of a spirit in the house.” And that’s the first day I will be okay again.