This is the love story as told to me by Debra Malone, mama of Nina the Chihuahua from Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.
Tell me about the first time you met Nina, when and where was it?
I was visiting the local animal shelter to drop off donations and there was a tiny, tiny Chihuahua in the corner of a large dark cage. There was a note on her cage that said she needed a hospice home. At the time, I wasn’t looking to adopt. This little one had been there over six months, arriving with dozens of other dogs from a hoarding situation. She was going to be put down if no one adopted her. We would, and we did! It was in August of 2018 and It was the “Clear the Shelter Event” that weekend at the Bergen County animal shelter.
Thinking back, how would you describe Nina’s personality as a puppy? And as an adult?
August 2018 – Nina was a senior, they thought about seven to ten years old. She was a very sad, defeated little girl. They also told us she was in end-stage heart failure, which turned out not to be true. Nina was timid and withdrawn, but so sweet. You could see she didn’t get that much affection or care in her life. One of the volunteers took her home periodically. But her personality was the effect of a very sad life. We saw dramatic changes within two weeks, I have other dogs, an older lab and golden retriever, and a poodle, all of different ages. Nina wet her bed and was afraid of everything at first, would borough under everything, but two weeks later, her tail was wagging, she showed interest in the other dogs and began smiling. We addressed her medical needs; she was on two heart meds but was able to get off heart meds after two months! The stress and anxiety of her previous neglect and being at the shelter so long had caused her otherwise minor heart murmur to be exacerbated. She had benign lipomas and dental issues, which we addressed, and Luxating Patella of her back legs, but she kept up with everybody and did her zoomie thing! She became a healthy, happy little soul.
And now how would Nina describe your personality?
Loving and Silly. We “talked” about everything. My mom died of cancer a month after her adoption, so I was also very sad for a long time. I’m sure she would say I was annoying at times because I never stopped kissing her! I hope she would say “I never had anybody love me more than my Mommy did. She was silly and loved me from nose to nose.”
What did you learn from Nina?
I think she taught me no matter how difficult life is, we have the capacity to be truly joyful. How to love unconditionally and expect nothing.
What are the top three things you always want to remember about your love?
1. Her smile, she exuded happiness.
2. The silly way she would scratch me with her paw over and over until I held her because she wanted to be cuddled and pet. She was never more than a few inches away from me.
3. Her eyes, the way she looked at me. Our special time every day sitting outside. I told her every day how much I loved her, how beautiful she was, and how lucky I was to be her mom. She had the most loving eyes I’ve ever seen.
When did Nina earn her wings?
September 21, 2020
When did you join Paws?
Three weeks ago
Do you remember how you found Paws?
Someone referred the group to me
What has or is helping you get to the other side of grief?
Right now it’s anger that’s driving me to hold the vet accountable. My vet of twenty years retired and sold the practice, so after doing research I took my 4 dogs to a new Vet for checkups and meet and greet. The Techs dislocated Nina’s hip during a nail cutting, but after two hours of chaos, the Vet told me Nina’s knee had popped out, which she knew was a lie. An X-ray the next day confirmed they had totally dislocated her hip. That began the worst 3 days of my life, with Nina dying as another Vet, an orthopedic surgeon started surgery. She was expected to do fine, but her heart rate became erratic after anesthesia was delivered and they couldn’t stabilize her again and she died. I’ve been posting online, we picketed the Vets office and filed against the Vet with the appropriate agencies, so I guess the fight for justice is moving me forward, but I’m not sure I will ever get over the guilt that I took her there or that she died that way.
Using your spiritual and intuitive mind,
If I could get a message to Nina from you, what would you want to say? What would you want to let Nina know?.
I would tell her how much I love and miss her, how sorry I am that I wasn’t holding her when she left this world. That I ache for her every day and she will always be my favorite little girl ever. It’s always terrible when your pet passes away, but I was always with my other dogs, so knowing Nina was alone without me there to comfort her, telling her I loved her, will always haunt me. She deserved more time being loved after a lifetime of sadness, so having her die like this is very hard and I blame myself for taking her there.
And if I could get a message from you to Nina what would you like to know?
Did she meet my mom? Nina was the last thing my Mom and I talked about. Mom told me “You will be blessed for saving her, God will bless you.” I hope she is with my mom. I hope her body is working just how she wants it. She wanted to run and play but she couldn’t because of her legs. I would ask if she can still hear me talking to her and feel the love I send every day.
Is there anything else you would like to share with you Paws Pack about Nina?
Nina has shown me how important it is to adopt elderly dogs. It’s so important to give them the opportunity to love and have joy and comfort in their final days. Nina taught me not to be afraid of the unknown, to stay strong. I wasn’t there to adopt that day, but it was God's destiny for the two of us to be together. The sign on her cage wasn’t accurate. In a loving home, with the right care and diet, Nina’s situation changed, and she was not on her last leg by any means. She gave me just as much as I gave her, and she will be missed forever.