Thursday, June 18, 2009

We Are Dog People

Writing things down has always helped me get through difficult times. I often have dialogue running through my head and it is a relief to get it out on paper (or in type). We've been through a lot in the last few weeks which is why you haven't heard much from me. Bear with me, this is more for my me than anyone else. This is my therapy, this is my eulogy, this is my goodbye. So here you go.
Roughly 13 years ago, after having a frosty beverage or two... Brian and I headed out to Godley to check out some 8-wk old Siberian Husky puppies we had found in the paper. Just to look. Not to buy.

Yeah right... Have you ever seen one in person? It is simply impossible not to leave with one, we're lucky we made out with just one. One in particular seemed a little sweeter than the others. Brian was holding one, but I convinced him the one I had was the one we wanted. This was our first Christmas together and this was my present to Brian. We had been dating roughly 9 months or so, surely long enough to commit to something as important as raising a dog together, right? Oh how young and naive we were.

And so began our life with Kita. For almost as long as there has been a Brian and I, there has been a Kita as well. The honest truth is that if not for her there might not have been an us. No matter what the difficult times brought...arguments, stupidity, and even a long-distance relationship...she was the tie that was never broken between us.

I'd love to tell ya'll she was the best dog there ever was (which she was to us), but there may have been a little room for improvement in the obedience area. If it could be shredded, scratched, or ripped up she could (and would) do it. She has demolished kennels (plastic dog crates), carpet, walls, sheets, doors, and countless other things. If it could be peed or pooped on she could handle that as well. Once I'm pretty sure she stood in the middle of the room and spun around like a helicopter. How else could you explain poop on the walls and even in the electrical outlet? And the famous backpack incident? Yep, right in the side pocket on a $20 bill...and nowhere else. She could be diabolical. More than that, she could not be trusted in the least.

And, the thing she was famous for...escaping. The miles we have ran chasing that silly dog. Looking back I'm fairly certain we have spent most of the time trying to keep her from running away from us. Which is ironic considering how much she would cry and whine at the backdoor to get in. Once we found JUST her collar hanging on one of the posts of Brian's 7-ft back fence.

We went through multiple kennels because she scratched holes in them. She was also quite adept at somehow shaking the kennel all day until the screws fell out. We finally just zip-tied the darn thing together. We attempted once to get her a large wire kennel that had way more room and she could see out. That lasted about 1 day until she figured out how to scoot the plastic bottom out and dug all the way through the carpet and padding. Lost that deposit. Actually, I'm pretty sure we never got any deposit back on any apartment we lived in...

Once I came home to hear her crying. I ran around the corner and found just her head hanging out a hole that she had scratched in the side of the kennel. She was the only dog I have ever heard of that could somehow walk a kennel from room to room while we were gone. Luckily, in the past few years she calmed down enough that we didn't have to put her in it anymore.

She definitely had her fare share of oddities. She like to hide cheese in the potted plants. She HATED other dogs. When she went into heat she latched onto odd items and they became her "puppy". She was unreasonably high strung. She hated for her tail or feet to be touched. She seriously disliked for her picture to be taken, wouldn't make eye contact with the camera, and usually looked annoyed at the picture taker. She hated to be brushed. She hated rain, baths, swimming, and basically water of any kind. And many more I can't remember right now.

And the hair. Oh the hair. Can I tell you how many times I cursed the hair? I wore her hair, ate her hair, vacuumed her hair, brushed her hair, lint-rolled her hair, and found her hair in the oddest of places. I can't count how many hundreds of times I wished that hair away.

Kita was spirited, to say the least. But, because she was simply beautiful, and completely ours (for better or worse) we put up with it all. She had a way of making you feel that you were lucky just to be hanging out with her. She got annoyed with us. She even got embarrassed sometimes. She never, even for one second, considered herself to be a dog. As far as she was concerned this was a level playing field and we were no more important than she was in this relationship.

Then there was the shear joy she had when she hung her head out the window while we were driving. And the sweet spot that you occasionally found when you rubbed her belly. And the times, if only for a few minutes, she let you curl up right next to her. Oh, and that puppy fur on our feet at the end of the day. I have ran miles upon miles with her by my side. Even with all that fur she loved to stretch out in the sun and bake for a while. She had a way of looking so content and happy with herself...half-closed eyes, tongue hanging out, nose to the sky. She liked to hide in our closet, or in the bushes, or under the bed. She also like to stretch out on a nice cool tile floor when available. And I can hear her contented sigh as she stretched out as far as she could right now in my mind. She could also roll herself up so tightly that her nose would tuck in right under her tail.

For so many years we dragged her everywhere. We stayed gone all day, we went out at night, and and she always adapted. She's lived in multiple houses and apartments. In the most unselfish act ever, Brian let me take Kita to live with me in Houston for the two years I was in grad school. And then I made him marry me to get her back! She was my companion for all of my drives back and forth to Houston. She even went on camping trips with us. She was always there, for the good and the bad.

I became an adult with her by my side. I graduated college. I graduated from OT school. I married the love of my life. I bought my first house. I bought my second house. I had my children. She has ridden shotgun in every car I have ever owned. I always had her.

For the past 2 years, barring the month I was in the hospital, she's been my constant companion every single day. She drove me crazy some days. I'm sure I did the same to her. And while I knew she was getting old, I never stopped to think how it would feel when she wasn't here anymore. Why is that? We tolerated each other like a crazy old couple who have been together for years, with sweet moments here and there. And a lot of nagging.

As with everything else we have done to her, she tolerated the babies. I can't say she was happy about it. But, we worked through it. There were days I would be so frustrated with her, but I realize now it was just a difficult situation for us both. I wanted to be able to trust her around the babies and she wanted them to leave her alone. There were days I thought it would be easier for me if she just wasn't here. This is the one thing I wish I could take back more than anything. Why is it so easy to take the simplest of things for granted?

Monday we had to make a difficult decision and had to have her put to sleep. She had advanced lymphoma and had gotten to the point of not eating or standing up. We made our decision with as much peace as possible and said goodbye. I think this was the hardest thing I have ever done. Which is saying a lot, I did have triplets ya know?

We only found out that she was sick a little over a week ago. We were told she had 2-4 months, and certainly didn't expect just a week. It happened too fast. It was amazing how completely unprepared we were for it when it did. The one condolence for me is that she wasn't sick for that long. She was far too proud to have tolerated that.

I wasn't ready. I had no idea how difficult it would be to say goodbye. I spent so much time at the end worrying that she was uncomfortable or in pain that I never stopped to think about how big the place in my heart was that she filled. I thank from the bottom of my heart both my parents and Brian's parents that they allowed me to spend some time just with her during her last days.

I miss her. I can't believe she's gone. She's just always been here. It is difficult to put into words or even describe how sad we have been. I just can't quite get it in my heart that I will never see her again. It is an emotion that has quite literally shaken me.

There will be no more whining at the back door. There will be no more piles of hair in the corner. There will be no more jingles in the middle of the night. It's a hard thing to accept. Impossibly hard.

But life moves on. Today was a little bit better than yesterday. Tomorrow will be a little bit better than today. It's hard being in this house without her. It's better when I am busy. Thank goodness I have three fantastic little distractions at my feet.

And I will always love that silly dog. Forever.


Jeni said...

Stef, I'm so sorry. Losing a dog is never easy. I still remember when you had to put Ginny down. (I think that's how you spelled it.) Anyway, I am SO sorry. Hang in there! Luv ya!

Emily said...

There were tears in my eyes reading this! You have such a talent for writing.
I am so so sorry for your loss!!!
Big hugs!!!

Carole said...

That was beautiful Stefanie. I'm literally crying...and you know how I feel about pets (for myself!). I'm so sorry:(

Rachel said...

I concur.....completely. I'm sorry. Love ya

The May Family said...

Oh Stef--- so a comment on blogspot is truly not sufficient support but this is my starting ground tonight because I am hopeful that you are sleeping.

Sweet Kita. I am sooooo sorry to hear your heartbreaking news! Sending love friend!

Heather Anderson said...

Aw Stef! That made me cry. Kita was a sweetie! I seem to remember bringing you dinner when you were enormously preganat and not supposed to get up, but you said your walks to the door to let her in/out didn't count :) She was beautiful and had a good mommy!

Theresa said...

Oh Stef, I'm so sorry! I only saw Kita a couple of times, but she was so sweet and gorgeous. Take care!

Aunt Dorothy said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

Caroline said...

I am so so sorry. Kita was lcky to have you guys as parents. We're thinking about you-caroline

Allison said...

Good Lord I am balling here! My beagle that we've had almost 10 years, who was 5 when we got him, ran away a few days ago. He has always ran away but we've always got him back. We can't find him now and I'm sick about it. I think of him all the time, hoping someone has him and is taking care of him. He's old and everyone is telling me he is fine but you just never know. I am glad I didn't have to make that decision that you had to make though. I'm so sorry you had to do that! It was a good tribute to Kita!