11/8/09

The Story of A Dog

I've been missing for awhile. I've been mourning for awhile. It's hard to believe I published the previous post beginning with "I've adored my chocolate lab for 9 years..." considering the recent tragedy this week.
My darling puppy died in an accident last Tuesday. She was hit by a car, that she was chasing (I know!), and died on impact. Thank goodness for that much.
Having never faced a death in my immediate family, or close circle of friends, before this, I am beyond devastated. It took me three days to be able to answer my phone or even mention the reason I was so sad. I have finally run out of tears.
I think, in her honor, I will tell you all the story of Kiley and her beautiful personality, her life, her journey, and the memory she leaves with me and my family.
Once upon a time, I was a teacher in a small 2 trailer-park town surrounded by unusable flatland as far as the eye could see. Even the principle/superintendent lived in a trailer. I scrambled for material every morning before opening my classroom door to a ragtag bunch of first graders who faced everything from second hand smoke (so bad that smoked filled the classroom every time I opened Michael's backpack to retrieve his homework) to malnutrition (poor Natalia's family, Russian immigrants living in a 2 room trailer with their 6 children, couldn't afford all the food groups, or treated water, which left her skin an eery shade of pasty white with a hint of chartreuse and her hair-completely natural-a greenish copper, matted and unbrushed).
So I'm scrambling to organize myself before school begins and there's a series of little knocks on my front door. I open it to a parade of mothers and students crowded around my door holding a gaggle of silky brown puppies.
"Mrs. P! Do you want a puppy?" asked a little second grader. His family lived on one of the few ranches around here and his mother chimed in, "Our chocolate lab and the neighbor's yellow lab had an affair a while back, now we have 9 puppies to give away."
I'm not a dog person. I don't care for the slobbery kisses or the shedding, I especially didn't need a dog. In the same breath, I was a bargain hunter who new a good deal when I saw one. A FREE $500 purebred puppy?!
When I arrived home, I shared the offer with John, who STILL hadn't proposed, but had always been a dog person. I tossed the idea around in my head in hopes of solidifying our future together, sort of like a crazy person tries to get pregnant so her boyfriend will stay with her. Okay, but not that crazy, it was a dog for goodness sakes, not a baby. And I was warming up to the idea of a companion at my little lonesome place I lived in. I knew the potential for dog companionship. I had just never experienced it.
Before I knew it, I was driving down the freeway in my new convertible, a laundry basket in the front seat with a little lump of chocolate fur curled up inside. I pulled up to John's house and lifted her out, where she immediately threw up on me. Dogs get carsick, too?
John and I were raising a puppy. OUR puppy. She would spend most nights with me, getting up early to run the mile dirt road in front of my house. In the morning, John would take her with him to the winery, where she would ride on the quad with him, drive to vineyards in the flatbed with him, and play with the other winery dogs. She learned to chase rabbits, and followed the lead dog (a white lab) around the property,learning doggy etiquiette (which butt to sniff, how close, how long), swimming in the pond and barking at birds.
One wild weekend, John dared a friend to eat 6 King Size Snickers and drink 6 cokes in one hour (which is impossible). The guy nearly made the bet before puking all over the front yard. Hahaha. Funny until we realized Kiley had licked up the mess and coincidentally ingested a fox tail at the same time. Our first vet bill, $250.
We took Kiley to dinner parties with us. We took her camping, to Lake Nacimiento, to the snow in Tahoe. You can imagine us driving to my parents house, a 3 hour drive, in my 2 seater convertible with a 40 lb puppy in my lap. She never did, in her entire life, stay in a kennel. Not once.
When we got married, we entertained the idea of tying the rings to her collar and letting her bring them up the aisle. Yes, we did.
There was the time she and my brother were playing fetch with a golf club and a tennis ball. He swung, she jumped and the club made contact with her head. She did a complete flip in the air and when she came down, her ears were crooked. It lasted for a day and when she stopped getting attention, the ears were even again.
She learned to jump off the end of the dock at Lake Nacimiento and later, swim safely with the girls in the lake.
We took her to an eclectic wedding when she was 5 where they roasted a pig and built outhouses all over a 20 acre parcel for guests to use (eclectic...). She managed to sniff out the remains of the pig carcass and gorge herself on it throughout the party. She rode home in the front seat of my convertible, John following in his car behind us. The entire way home she kept gagging.
"Something's wrong with Kiley!" I shared as we pulled into the driveway of our new home.
(To Be Continued...)

3 comments:

NewportJaime said...

SO sad.

Sorry for the loss.

therextras said...

My sincere sympathy.

Barbara

EMK said...

ooooh darlin' my heartfelt sympathy to you and the whole fam xoxo -erin