Brad is my brother and Kira is my niece. Even though she’s a dog, Kira is still my niece. Dogs are family and family is everything. I sadly just found out that Kira was diagnosed with untreatable cancer. I thought I would share something that Brad posted about the relationship between the two. Something that only those who have dogs can relate to. Sometimes our bonds with animals are stronger than our bonds with people. I think it’s because our animals (dogs in particular) don’t ask anything of us other than love. It’s totally unconditional and so amazing that I feel sorry for those who have not experienced it (especially if they don’t have children). Here is what Brad wrote:
This is the year my baby girl is supposed to turn 13. Given the way I raised her, I fully expect her to live into her late teens. Regardless of how long I am lucky enough to have her in my world, it won’t be nearly long enough. Anyone who owns a pet can attest to that.
When I look at my girl lying in the grass, sprinting up a hill, or swimming in her favorite watering hole, immeasurable warmth overtakes me. Over the past year or so I’ve been filled with urgency to express my gratitude for what she’s brought to my life, in many little ways. Even though she may not know what I’m saying, I still tell her; I love her, as if she does. My ritual has been to visit her on her daybed every night, kiss her on the head and tell her she means the world to me. I then wish her; love, health, happiness and longevity.
When I’m in town, she accompanies me to my office every day and sits in the big bay window in front of my desk. I can’t tell you the number of times she’s startled me and made me nearly jump out of my chair. Whenever someone walks by, or when she sees the cat that loves to torment her, or for any other reason that makes sense to her, she’ll start to bark.
I’d be lying if I said a shrill bark, reverberating off the glass didn’t bother me. More times than I care to admit I was on a radio interview, or on a conference call, only to realize there was nothing I could do until the person walked out of range, or the cat finally got bored and left. As much as I love that 17 pound ball of fur, those were the times I didn’t like her very much.
Well, yesterday it happened again! I was working away in my office, and sure enough she started to bark because something got her attention. My reaction however, was quite different this time; as I just stopped what I was doing and watched her until she calmed down.
It was as if I didn’t want her to stop barking, as it made me realize how alive she was. Instead of getting angry with her, I just smiled and told her in a gentle voice that it was ok, and then I said; I love you. And then I cried, uncontrollably and harder than I could ever remember, for what seemed a long, long time. The last time I cried like that was over 20 years ago when my mother passed away. I honestly thought I’d forgotten how to cry, but I didn’t.
You see, just the other day I found out my little girl has cancer and it seems to have spread almost overnight. I was hiking with her a couple of weeks ago, went on a 7-day speaking tour, and when I returned home she was different.
Gone was the 10 minute routine when I walked through the door, the one that always made me feel like I was her entire world. Instead I was met with a bit of a whimper and a slight wag of her tail, which seemed to take all the effort in the world to raise. There was sadness behind those beautiful brown eyes, and she just stared at me as if to say; Daddy, there’s something wrong, why do I feel this way.
So you see, even in the things that trigger you or make you angry, you can find love if you look deep enough. So now I can’t wait to hear her bark, and every time it happens I will smile and fill my heart with gratitude for having her in my world for as long as she’s willing to stick around.