I've been putting this off for three months now. (Procrastination? Who me? Oh, what a surprise.)
I can't believe it's been three months, almost to the day.
Exactly three months ago tonight, we were having one of the best pre-wakes a dog has ever had. Many of Kai's friends stopped by to give him a hug, feed him a treat, sit by him with love, and just smile with him. He was ecstatic.
What a long way he had come.
When we first got Kai, he was completely distrustful of anyone and everyone, even us. He jumped a 6-foot fence two days after getting fixed, just to get away from us. But he didn't run too far, and maybe he'd already learned to like us enough that he wasn't too unwilling to come home with us. Or maybe it was the food we were bribing him with.
That was the day we started to learn that he really didn't like being alone. Even though he was scared of us, he was more scared of being alone, where loud noises could occur at any time and make him practically jump out of his skin. So we brought him inside and sat with him and pet him and cooed at him and did all the things we never thought we'd do for a dog, just to get him to love us ... or at least to trust us.
But he wasn't just a dog, was he? As many new pet owners before and since have learned, those four-legged beasts become a part of the family as soon as we set eyes on them. And they become embedded in our heart faster than seems possible. Mark and I knew Kai was "ours" from the first second we met him. It just took him a while to figure out that we were completely his. But not too long of a while.
But for his next 10.5 years of life, he grew back into his natural state. Sure, he was still petrified of loud sounds -- fireworks, cars bottoming out on the road, thunder, a knife whacking a little too hard on the cutting board. And he still barked at strangers. But he was no vicious attack dog (unless you happened to be the poor Fed Ex guy ... sorry about your pants, sir). And all he wanted was love and attention and as much food as we were willing to dole out to him.
Our friends who knew him so well in Colorado wouldn't have recognized the social pooch he had become here in Boise. He no longer hid upstairs in a corner when we had friends over. In fact, he usually sat himself on his bed right next to the table, reveling (as much as Kai could revel) in the good times .... and in any food that "dropped" his way.
And that's why his last few days on this Earth were just so right (or as right as they could be). He was surrounded by love and food and friends and laughter and more food ... right until his last peaceful breath.
We miss you, Kai. We miss your scaredy-cat-ness. We miss your hunting of night creatures in the yard. We miss your abhorrence of cuddling with us (unless we were on a road trip). We miss having you chase after us on our cruisers. We miss the sound of your nails on the floor. We miss your many episodes of "squeak-i-cide." We miss you chasing planes across the backyard. We miss you jumping up on us when we walk in the door. We miss your fascination with the pond. We miss feeding you the tops of green peppers and tomatoes when we cook. We miss watching you "hunt grass" on the river bank. We miss having you on our road trips. We miss your love of the indestructible squeaky toy. We miss how rockin' you looked in your winter raincoat.
We miss your handsome face.
Rest in peace, Kai-Bo-Licious! I will see you in my dreams!