Recently I found myself thinking more about my dogs Ernest and Petey, and less about the ones I'd lost six months ago, and it shocked me.
Maybe it's only natural to focus on the ones who are here day in and day out. Maybe it's because Ernest has cancer and we spend a great deal of time making sure we're caring for his health and comfort. Or because Petey is a puppy and so very consuming of time and energy. Maybe it's just the way it should be. But it feels wrong.
Especially with Kelly. I don't feel this same melancholy about Ike, the 10-year old golden retriever we lost in March. Ike is still with me in many ways. I think of Ike every time I look at Ernest and Petey, and feel a deep appreciation for this wonderful breed. Ever since Brooks, the dog we adopted when he was 11-years-old, we fell in love with golden retrievers. Especially the seniors. Maybe it's still having golden retrievers that helps me keep Ike's spirit alive.
But Kelly. Sometimes Kelly feels...gone. It seems like years, decades ago that we had Kelly. Yet we lost her in March, just after losing Ike. And we'd had her longest of any dog...15 years.
The last year with Kelly had been bad. Pacing. Loss of continence. Loss of mental faculties. She didn't like to be held anymore. She fell. Panted. She stared with eyes that barely recognized me anymore. That's not the Kelly I'm remembering today.
Kelly was a good dog. She used to be joyful. She ran, wagging her tail like a helicopter, springing from bush to bush in the yard. She loved to swim. She loved to jump. She jumped up on the back of my big green chair and curled around my neck like a scarf. She cuddled. She was smart. She could solve any puzzle or problem. She was in charge, that was for sure.
With any other dogs in the house, she was the boss. She controlled them with just a look. All our golden retrievers were respectful of her, and deferred to her leadership. But what I remember most is her empathy. She was always there beside me if ever I was down or not feeling well. There were many times when I was going through some challenge, and she just intuitively crept up and tucked herself in by my side. She was almost human, I thought. She understood me, and sometimes it seemed as though she read my thoughts.
It makes me happy to think of Kelly and how special she was, but it also makes me sad because I miss her all the more.
There once was a dog named Kelly, and we adopted her, and she was a part of the family and she loved us with everything she had. We played with her when she was young and we cared for her when she was suffering from dementia. And in March we said goodbye to her. And I love her. And I miss her.
Kelly was a good dog.