On the way home from the vet (with Nadia's body in the back seat), we stopped by Hengel (a local construction company). They have all kinds of rocks (and dirt and sand and concrete), and I thought that we might be able to pick out a nice headstone for Nadia. The guy at the front counter was nice and when we explained that we just wanted one rock, for a headstone, he told us we could drive to the rock piles and pick one out. I found a very unique rock that looks almost as though there are fossils in it, and it has a chunk of quartz on one end. It really was unique, just like Nadia, so we loaded it up in the car and drove back to the office to pay for it. The man came out and told us we could have it for free. I will be sending a thank you note; and when it comes time to buy dirt to fill my raised beds, I will be using Hengel. A huge thank you for their kindness on a day that was otherwise very difficult for me.
My parents have a patch of lilies growing wild in the woods just off the edge of their side yard, so I dug up a couple and planted them on either side of Nadia's head stone. It looks pretty nice.
It's been a rough day. My eyes hurt from crying so much, and I'm sure there's going to be plenty more tears to come. I'm really not sure what to do now. I've had Nadia longer than three of my kids, so I'm feeling really empty and lost, but mostly lonely.
Tony asked if I would start looking for a new dog to train in to be my service dog over the summer. My first thought is to immediately rush out and get a new dog to fill the void, but I know that's a bad idea. I don't want to compare a new dog to Nadia, because they'd never be able to match up. I need a dog that suits my needs, not just to fill a space. I don't know that I will ever find a perfect match like Nadia. Maybe an ideal candidate will come along, but I'm not going to be actively looking. Nadia was truly one of a kind, and I don't know that I'll ever find one even remotely like her if I searched the world over for the rest of my life.
Instead of focusing on what a great loss this is, I've decided to thank God for the decade (technically 11 years) Nadia and I spent together. For the beautiful friendship, fond memories, happy times (and some sad), and the support she gave me. The confidence we fostered in each other as we both grew and matured, for her everlasting patience with me, and I with her. For her unbelievable transition from terrified and abandoned, to confident family member. I am so thankful that I was blessed with caring for this amazing dog. At first I told people that I nursed her through the first couple years when she was so afraid of men and loud noises that she'd drop to the ground and urinate all over herself. That I cared for her through not one but two rounds of heartworm treatment because she was so infested when she was abandoned. That I diligently worked with her through obedience class to complete her CGC (Canine Good Citizen). But that was wrong. All along, she was the one saving me. She gave me purpose, she saw me though good and bad times, she taught me patience (I'm still learning), and reinforced putting other peoples' needs before my own. She gave me the confidence to go out in public, to speak to people, even to make eye contact with strangers. She gave me hope that I could regain some semblance of a normal social life with her by my side. At the risk of sounding cliche - I didn't rescue her, she rescued me.
I hope some day I can be rescued once again by a soul as magnificent as Nadia's was. See you again one day at Rainbow Bridge my precious girl. I love you Nadia. Good girl. Good girl.