3/7/2005 – 11/22/2014
Born in maple sugaring season, you came to us in May, full of springtime joy. Your playful enthusiasm and curiosity were contagious.
Everything was a source of delight.
A root to wrestle with at the edge of a garden bed.
A sunny spot to lie in while surveying your domain.
Fetching your collar in anticipation of—or to suggest—going for a walk.
A grouse or woodcock to sniff out during familiar jaunts along the driveway and railroad bed.
A spot of pee-mail to investigate and answer by replying-to-all.
A hike up Owl’s Head, Little Deer, Wheeler Mountain, or Lord’s Hill.
The sound of a cracking stick, soon to be thrown.
A training bumper or tennis ball to retrieve. Even a soccer ball would do.
A snowball to catch in mid-air.
A brook or pond to splash and swim in, and to scour for underwater sticks.
A chance to play with Kate, Otis, Toby, and other four-legged friends, familiar and newly met. Submissive friendliness was your usual way, but you learned to stand your ground and give a flash of white fang when someone played too rough.
A two-legged visitor to greet with toy in mouth.
A moment’s opportunity to lick and nudge.
A minute or hour’s opportunity to cuddle in a lap, have your cheeks scratched, and purr.
A wrapped present or gift bag to nuzzle, hoping it was a prize for you: a new toy or maybe a treat.
An empty birdseed sack to grab and run around the yard with.
A meal or treat of any kind. Fingers to lick, preferably bearing crumbs, barbecue sauce, a whiff of cheese, or creamy foam from the top of a coffee cup.
A chance to be a self-packing puppy, jumping into the back of the car to lie on your bed, content in the knowledge that—wherever your pack was going—you were going, too.
For all your enthusiasm, you lived with poise and grace.
Everywhere we went, you attracted attention—partly for your beauty but mainly for your sweet, friendly demeanor. Among those who knew you, you earned a reputation for your intelligence, good behavior, and gentle disposition.
You chewed often on sticks, rarely on toys, and never on things that weren’t yours.
You did not waste your voice, and barked only when suspicious. When other dogs woofed and yapped out of simple excitement, you stayed quiet, watching and listening. Only an eager tail, a prance of joy, or a low, impatient whine conveyed your anticipation.
In all these ways, Kaia, you gave us great gifts. And you taught us great lessons: about play and unbridled joy, about family and affection, about living wholeheartedly, and more.
For nine years, we enjoyed your presence in our lives. Yet, looking back now, we see how much we took for granted, how many times we failed to pause and appreciate all you gave us: the profound ways you affected us and were woven into the fabric of our daily lives. (Even in your absence, we continue to learn from you.)
Your departure came swiftly. One week you were running, leaping, and—sleek as a seal pup and less than sixty pounds—still being mistaken for a nine-month old puppy. The next week, you seemed to be having a minor problem or two that puzzled the vets. Two days later, you collapsed into our laps.
You spent the next few hours doing one of your favorite things in the world: lying on your bed by the couch, cuddled into us, purring. We held you, stroked you, and told you again and again how much we loved you. And we talked with the vets by phone, trying to figure out what, if anything, could be done during the weekend, when specialists’ offices were closed and none of the fancier diagnostic technology was available.
Then, with the same grace that marked your life, you died in our arms: knowing you were loved, without pain or distress, without us having to make the awful decision to foreshorten your days.
We don’t know for sure, but you seem to have had a brain tumor that no one suspected until it was far too late. How we wish we could have protected you.
As we head into winter, our grief runs deep. The house feels strangely empty without your presence, the snowy yard blank without your tracks. Part of our family is gone. We are missing a piece.
You are the first dog either of us has ever raised from puppyhood. We dearly hoped for several more years with you, but perhaps the time never seems quite long enough.
Our sadness, of course, is rooted in the joy you brought us, in our gratitude for your magnificent life.
Thank you, Kaia.
We will carry you in our hearts always.
“Out of birth comes anticipation and imagination; out of death and leaving we are given lit memories and stark sorrow, haloed by significance.”
— David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea