I lost my Naia girl in the Year of Awfulness, AKA 2020. She was old and in pain, and it was time to let her go. She held on so long, and I know she did it for me and for Bella, her canine partner in life. It broke my heart into a million pieces, and Bella spent weeks looking for her best friend. My husband had to explain to my 4-year-old that telling me Naia is an angel 10x a day isn’t actually making me feel better, because I couldn’t stop crying. 

I can’t begin to explain the love I have for my two little ladies, Bella and Naia. I’ve had them since I was 18; I got them about 6 months apart and we were an unbreakable trio for 14 years. We were together through 3 states, countless homes and apartments, a marriage, divorce, new marriage; becoming a mom, college, multiple identity and career crises, the death of my best friend since age 7, dating and partying through my 20s, road trips, camping trips, and so much more I can’t even think of. So much of my life was flipped upside down, turned around, broken, and changed through my 20s, but my dogs were my constant comfort, companions, and always gave me a reason to keep moving. I had some horrible seasons of depression, some periods of near constant anxiety and panic attacks – and the routine of feeding, walking, and caring for my dogs kept me getting up and feeding, walking, and caring for myself. My dogs saved me, over and over.

And when my life settled, and I became a mom – Naia jumped right into loving my kids. She adored Brooks, and slept in his bed when he’d go to his other house. She was always watching them, and always trying to steal a treat. She was a wannabe chubster, and spent most of her life trying to undo the diets we put her on. She was SO feisty most of her life; with that Shiba attitude, she never felt sorry for any mess she made or wrong she did. She was always just proud of herself and counted on her cuteness to get her out of trouble. It always worked.

I still miss her and feel like there’s a whole in my heart that will never heal. I know Bella feels it too – we spend so much time snuggled together, clearly missing the third piece of our team. Dogs are family, and going through my entire adulthood with Naia makes her absence felt so deeply. I still can’t imagine that I have to do the rest of my life without her. Hold your doggies close – their lives are never long enough.

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