Monday, February 5, 2024

My Valentino

My precious Valentino came into my life on July 7, 2007.  He pranced his way right into my heart.  And while the prancing slowed down over the years, he could still put on a show whenever he wanted to impress someone (usually another canine) with his little tail straight up in the air and his high-stepping trot.  I never would have imagined that he would be such an incredible companion to me for over sixteen years.  It wasn’t enough time.

I don’t know the story of his first few years of his life, other than the records that stated he was brought from Madera County to the Marin Human Society.  We never could figure out why anyone would have abandoned him.  He was amazing, right from the start.  I am convinced that we were meant to find each other. 

It took him a few months to find his voice, and for a while there, I thought he might never bark.  He never was yappy like some chihuahuas, but he had plenty of vocalizations to choose from when he wanted to express himself.

Errand Girl for Rhythm” by Diana Krall was the only song he ever sang along with, although he would vocalize with me when I was warming up with scales, up until he lost his hearing.

He travelled with me to Sonora, CA where we stayed with a lovely family that included a small pack of dogs.
  This was soon after his adoption, and he definitely learned some bad behavior from those goofy fur friends.  A young vizsla named Amber was staying at the house for a few days, and my little 7 lbs chihuahua was out-lapping her in the back yard as they ran in circles on the grass.

The home had pack of deer just outside the fenced yard and he was fascinated with them.
  Tino was small enough to escape through the fence and joined the herd of 20+ deer as they ran around the extensive property.  It was terrifying for me, but he had the time of his life!  The only mark on his body from that adventure was a tiny cut on one of his back legs, which is a miracle; I guess the deer considered him more friend than foe.

He was a little athlete.
  At my old apartment, he would run up and down five flights of stairs multiple times a day.  He was a very independent gentleman, and did not want any help up that endless staircase.  Even in the last months of his life, when I would bend down to pick him up toward the end of our walks, he would suddenly take off in front of me, wanting to do all the walking for himself.

In 2015, he travelled across the country to Pennsylvania on a plane with my Mom and me.
  He was a brave angel, and even had his own seat on the way there thanks to a kind airline representative who wanted us to have the entire row of three seats to ourselves.  I like to think that he enjoyed that little adventure!

He survived hernia surgery in 2019 with flying colors.
  The scar he returned home with was horrible, but within a couple of years, it had completely disappeared.  I wish my skin was that resilient!

He was feisty, that’s for sure.
  And if anyone wanted to get too close to me while I was holding him, he was sure to let them know his displeasure.

In the last couple of years, he started to go deaf until his hearing was completely gone.
  Once he wasn’t able to pinpoint exactly where I was with his ears, he started following me around.  If I had the audacity not to carry him up the stairs with me (he stopped trying to climb the stairs a few years back), he would stand at the bottom of the staircase and yell at me.

And while he was never very fond of being held for any significant amount of time, in the last few years he became a consummate lap dog; any time I started moving in the direction of the couch, he was right there, waiting to get comfy.

He was my constant companion, and I was lucky to be able to bring him to the office every day.
    He was an excellent office mascot!

He had his choice of beds at the office, but for the last year or so, as his hearing was failing, he preferred to stand in the middle of the hallway so that he could keep track of everyone's comings and goings.  And when he finally wanted to settle in for a nap, it was rare that he actually made it into the bed, but seemed to prefer a half-in/half-out position.

Looking back, I think there were less than 14 days over those sixteen years that I was separated from him for more than a few hours.

It’s very disconcerting to run up and down the stairs and not have to make sure to let my little man know that I will be right back.
  I keep looking under the table in your bed for your little face.  And I keep expecting to see you when I turn around, waiting for me to pick you up onto my lap as soon as I sit down.

Mr. Valentino was my world for so very long, and I don’t know what I shall do without him.
  I keep expecting him to be right at my side, only to have the heartbreaking realization that he won’t be there ever again.

Seven hours before his passing, I saw a rainbow on the drive home from the office, right as we were turning onto our street, and I like that think that it was a sign that his journey on this earth was coming to an end.

I take comfort that you no longer have any pain or discomfort, and your little body is no longer holding you back.

I feel so very privileged to have had this amazing little creature in my life for over sixteen years.  I could not have asked for anything more in a best friend.

I love you, Bubba, and I miss you so very much.
  Say hello to Buddy for me, Baby.

July 7, 2004 - February 2, 2024


  1. Oh, I’m so sorry that you’ve had to say goodbye to your sweet boy. Looks like he had a wonderful life with you. Best wishes during this sad time.

  2. Thinking of you as you go about finding a new normal without your faithful friend. Those of us who have paw prints on our hearts are blessed although the sadness is so hard to bear. Hope you can find solice in your sewing. Sis

  3. So sorry for you.

  4. I'm so sorry. He sounds like he was just the most wonderful friend to you.

  5. I'm so sorry to hear this, Laura Mae. Sounds like he had an incredible -- and long -- life thanks to your loving care.

    1. Thank you, Peter. He was an amazing little guy, and I am so thankful for my time with him.

  6. I am so very sorry for your loss. Take all the time you need to grieve -- he was with you for a long time.

  7. So sorry for your loss...our dogs (all rescues too!) are our babies and mean so much to us. I take comfort, as you should too, that we give them a good life and they in return love us dearly. That love is something so many don't ever realize. Take comfort in all the good memories. Your post was wonderful and allowed us to know this little guy!!! HUGS

  8. I am so sorry for your loss. I always enjoyed reading about him when he featured on your blog. I too have known a special rescue Chihuahua. They are such loyal, protective, little companions.

  9. Laura Mae,

    A male model and an inventive gal get paired up by sheer happenstance, hi-jinx ensue.

    We've all enjoyed the peeks over the years at whatever you two were doing. Thank you for sharing Tino with us.

    The universe found a spirit worthy of your love. Cry when you feel like it; tears are loving out loud.

    A fan of your friend in the fur suit

  10. So sorry to hear of your loss. He was and is loved, that's for sure.

  11. Dear Laura Mae, We are all with you in spirit, because we know how heartbreaking it is to lose your companion and friend. God bless you, and Valentino in heaven. Take care, Becky beckybsewandtell

  12. What a handsome little boy! I'm so sorry for your loss. Dogs are the best! What a lovely tribute to your Bubba. Thank you for sharing it.

  13. So very sorry for your loss. I know how difficult it is. Sending you all positive thoughts.

  14. So sorry to hear about little Tino. I have many recollections of him - he was truly a little, loving character!

  15. So sorry to hear this story. I cried as soon as I saw it coming. Our pets - better than family!