Kelly, The Story Of The Best Dog There Ever Was

Author’s Note: I wrote this story last year to pay tribute to my dog, Kelly. The story has remained private until now, the second anniversary of her passing. I still miss Kelly and can only hope that what happened to her won’t happen to another beloved pet, canine diabetes. I’ve decided to share Kelly’s story publicly to honor her and to keep her memory alive. Below, is the story of the best dog there ever was, Kelly.
Joanne Firth
Coventry CT
April 8, 2014


Kelly, The Story Of The Best Dog There Ever Was

Kelly came into our lives one Memorial Day weekend. Our campground neighbor, Mike Kelly, was dog sitting a pregnant dog named Peanut. Peanut’s owner had to be away for weeks and our neighbor agreed to care for her, knowing she was pregnant.

On Friday night, as Memorial Day weekend was getting into full swing at the campground, Peanut went under Mike’s camper and started to give birth. Peanut was 9 years old, a bit aged for this burden to be placed upon her, apparently, Peanut’s owner didn’t believed in spaying. Regardless, Peanut struggled all weekend. When Mike and my husband became aware that Peanut had gone missing, they immediately located her far underneath the camper, unable to be reached without much difficulty. With as much support as humanly possible under the conditions, Peanut continued to deliver her 5 pups until Sunday evening. At which point, Mike was somehow able to bring them all out from underneath the dark dampness to a clean, comfortable area which he had prepared for them. Peanut and all the pups were fine despite the length of time it took for the birthing process to be completed.

The pups were thriving. All of the people from the campground, especially the kids, came to visit them and thusly they received constant, loving attention. When Peanut’s owner discovered the pups were born, he stated to Mike, the caregiver, that he would likely destroy all the pups by drowning them as soon as he returned to reclaim Peanut. Upon hearing this, Mike refused to let Peanut’s owner have access to the pups and vowed to find homes for all of them so that no harm would ever come to them.

The pups grew and started to be claimed by people. I found a home for two of them with people I knew, so everyone involved with the pups lives were very happy to know that each one would be placed in a loving home and the threats to destroy them we just wasted words.

The time had come for the pups to go out into the world and two of them were brought to our house so that we could in turn bring them to their new families. Well, there was a little snag with one of the women who promised a home to the female pup we were ready to bring to her. She had changed her mind and decided she did not want the puppy. So here we were, with a beautiful black lab mix female puppy and nowhere to bring her. The other puppy was safely delivered to a woman whom I met through work.

I had just had extensive foot reconstruction, the day the pups came. My left foot was in a full cast and I was on crutches. I was still able to go to work but when I came home, I sat and rested with my surgically enhanced foot elevated.

We never did try to find another home for the unwanted pup. She was ours. We fell in love and never looked back. I named her Kelly, in honor of the man who cared for Peanut and the pups seeing that they remained safe. He was a hero to me for not allowing the owner to get his nasty, ignorant hands on five helpless puppies, only to destroy them. Kelly had her new home, right here and became our best friend and the best dog we have ever known.

Kelly and I bonded immediately. She would sit in the chair with me and since she was only five weeks old when she came to us, I would give her water from a nursing bottle and there we were, the two of us, falling madly in love with one another. My recuperation time became much for fun.

Kelly grew to be an amazing companion to me. We went everywhere together and were never separated by more than a few feet when we were home together. She was loyal, affectionate and had an uncanny compassion when it came to me. We became as close as a woman and her dog could ever be. It was crystal clear to everyone,that Kelly was my dog. She was protective of me as well and always got in between anyone else and me, in a loving way of course. But if anyone tried kidding around or playing with me physically, Kelly would instantly become ready to do whatever she could to keep me safe. When my husband, son and I did family hugs together, Kelly was right in the center, including herself, rightly so.

The time came when I found out I had breast cancer. My life was going to change and I would be receiving tons of medical attention, surgeries and treatment. During that time, during four months of chemo, Kelly laid on my pillow when I had to be in bed. She became my comforter, my nurse and my salvation during that horrific few months of my life. When it came time for the daily, six weeks of radiation treatments, Kelly rode with my husband and I for every treatment. She and my husband would wait in the car and pull up as I came out the front door of the hospital. Kelly was always in my seat with her head sticking out the window, very much ready for me to be with her again. Her daily greeting always made me smile with gratitude, making these hospital trips more bearable. She never, for a second, let me forget how adored I was. I don’t know how I could have gotten through treatment without her.

Kelly loved to eat and her weight became a problem. Our vet cautioned us to help her get rid of the excess pounds she was carrying. Her appetite was ravenous. She loved food! In our way, we thought we were showing her love by giving her treats and table scraps. Eventually, I cracked down and put her on a diet but it was too late.

Kelly became ill one day, suddenly. She was behind on her annual check up at the vet and I blame myself. It was during the year of the cancer treatment that other things, like bringing dogs to the vet didn’t happen as they were suppose to. I’ve come to regret that more than I could ever express. And have also become unable to forgive myself due to the outcome of Kelly’s sudden illness.

I brought Kelly to the vet the day she got sick. She was only six and half years old, so never could I have fathomed how ill she actually was. She had become diabetic during the year I had cancer treatment and her illness was so far progressed by the time she showed any symptoms that despite aggressive, life saving measures, Kelly died.

I brought her on a Friday and went to visit her the next day, when there was still a chance that her diabetic situation could be turned around. I even had a long phone conversation with the vet before my arrival on Saturday about taking care of Kelly and her diabetes at home. When I arrived at the vet, I was led to a quiet area in the rear of the building. Kelly was lying in the back of a large cage and I climbed in, curled up beside her and wept. I wept with guilt and anger and grief. How could I have allowed this to happen to my beautiful dog? I could barely breathe from all the emotions welling up and pouring out. Not even knowing then that she was not going to be able to survive. Just seeing her so sick, punched all the wind right out of me.

Eventually, two workers came and asked if I wanted to lay with Kelly outside for a little while. It was a nice warm day and I said yes, I would like to do that. I was taken out to a small, fenced in yard and was told to wait until they brought Kelly out to me. A few minutes later, the two workers brought my dog, on a stretcher out to the blanket I had put down for us to lay on. They carefully helped Kelly onto the blanket and gave us our privacy. We laid on the blanket together, soaking up Spring sun.

It was time for the visit to end. Kelly was brought back inside and the vet and I discussed her ongoing treatment and that we would be in touch the next day to talk about Kelly’s discharge. I hated leaving her more than I have ever hated anything. I was wearing a colorful jacket which I took off and put on top of Kelly, who was laying back in the big cage. I was spent from the emotional breakdown that had occurred. I was emotionally exhausted and feeling as though I had abused my dog to the point of making her sick. The odd thing was that the diet I had started her on, was working and she was down 16 pounds. It was not a saving grace though to me, the guilt and shame were absolutely overwhelming. The thought of causing egregious harm to her was as painful as anything could be. I said goodbye to Kelly and told her I loved her and that I would see her tomorrow. Her big brown eyes stared at me, asking for something I could not do for her, to take her home.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Kelly passed away. I was sound asleep when the phone rang and didn’t find out until I awoke Sunday morning to return the call. I was standing on rubber legs waiting for the vet to come to the phone, knowing full well, that calls at three a.m., are not good news. A very gentle voice came on the phone offering condolences and explaining that Kelly passed peacefully during her sleep. I was gone after that. I remember being asked to make some decisions and telling the gentle voice I would have to call back later. I don’t remember anything thing else after that.

To say I grieved would be a major understatement. To say a part of me died when she did would be more accurate. I have never loved anything as I loved Kelly. I have never been more comforted by anything more than I was by Kelly’s attentive adoration. She was the best friend, the best companion, the best dog there ever was. I want to say, right here, that she was the best dog there ever was until I ruined it. Until I kept looking the other way, letting her get heavier and heavier. Until I let diabetes sneak in, and didn’t notice. right here is where I want to say, I killed my dog.

It has been a year since Kelly left. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. I keep a large stuffed Kelly on my bed which I can see out the corner of my eye if I look in a certain direction. I still see her, hear her, feel her. Her presence in our home was so large and so loving that it feels as though we have moved to another place. A place that is not quite as happy nor exciting. A place where tails don’t wag and barks don’t bark and faces don’t get licked.

Kelly and I. A story of love, devotion, carelessness and loss. Her love lives on and will forever imprint the years of my life she was in it and the years she wasn’t. Kelly, this story is for you and about you. I can only hope that you forgive me and perhaps in the aftermath, we can help other dogs by asking the owners to be mindful about over feeding and be diligent with annual vet checks. Canine diabetes is a silent killer. Gone unchecked, what happened to Kelly may happen to another dog and other dog lover.
Thank you Kelly. I love you.



kelly snow

Here is link with information about canine diabetes.

The Painting

For Doug

Yesterday, something amazing happened and I think the story is well worth putting into words. So here goes.

I happened to pop over to Twitter just as a friend tweeted a picture of a painting. He wanted very much to find the artist who painted it. It is a beautiful painting, a street scene of Bourbon Street done in a colorful, vibrant, impressionistic style. Very eye catching.

I looked at the picture of the painting and the details my friend tweeted along with it. I gleaned enough information to try and help my friend find the artist. I love to do research on the internet, any kind of research and seeing an opportunity to not only get to do what I love but to help a friend at the same time, I was in!

I started with Google of course. Typing in key words which would narrow down the search. Looking at painting after painting, comparing style, color and content. Going back and forth to the tweeted picture to the ones I was finding. After about an hour, it seemed that the painting in question was nowhere to be found on the web.

For the next three hours or so, I kept going back to the search. I looked at the painting in question again and noticed what looked like initials at the bottom. They were somewhat obscured but I used them as another tool in my search. To no avail.

I was just about ready to give up. Something I don’t like to do. It had been almost 4 hours and my eyes were getting kind of blurry and out of focus. I started to research specific artists rather than looking at anymore paintings. Going to the artist’s web page, trying to match up the technique and signature. I went though about a dozen artists when all of the sudden I found it! I looked at the signature and they looked very similar. The paintings were of the exact same location although they looked a little different.

As soon as I thought I had a match, I tweeted the link of the painting I found to my friend and he instantly tweeted me back that I had indeed found the artist. He then was able to send the artist a message through her Facebook account as he wanted very much to buy another one of her paintings. She answered him back and arranged a meeting. Little did I know that my friend had been searching for this artist for five years. He owns the original painting that I researched but did not know who the artist was. As it turns out, the painting has become the most famous that this particular artist has done to date, with prints being sold everywhere.

Today, my friend told me that he actually told this story to the artist when they spoke, which tickled me to no end. The thought of bringing the two of them together after so long makes me really happy. Today, my friend not only owns one of her beautiful pieces of art, he owns two. So not only did my friend find his artist, the artist sold another painting.

Today, a five year search has ended. An artist made a sale. A friend has a beautiful gift to give his wife for their 20th anniversary. And I have that wonderful feeling of accomplishment, knowing that I was able to help a friend and an a talented artist.

Cheers! To Twitter, to Doug, Adel and A Sparkling Night On Bourbon Street, the painting.


July 23, 2014

Coventry CT

Sparkling Night On Bourbon Street by Elaine Adel Cummins

elaine adel cummins





Why Do I Keep It?

I wonder at times

Why I write things down

Like I do


On this blog


It is just a speck

A tiny fleck

A microscopic cell

In a much larger


Of other peoples’



Why do I keep it?

I wonder that


What is the point?

Of writing things down



My answer

Is always the same

I keep it


I love it

And I know that

It has the potential

To reach others

To reach someone

To reach that one person

Who may understand

Why I do

Why I keep it

Why I love it

Why I let your eyes see it


Why do you keep yours?


Coventry CT

A Broken Man

I held the hand of a broken man

Dry and chapped

I looked into the eyes of a broken man

Unfocused and staring

I shared my home with a broken man

Homeless and freezing

I fed the stomach of a broken man

Empty and shrunken

I shared my heart with a broken man

Pierced and shattered

I shared my wisdom with a broken man

Corrupt and deceitful

I shared my soul with a broken man

Dark and contemptuous

I shared my life with a broken man

Joy and sorrow

I hugged the body of a broken man

Skeletal and sick

I’ve shared everything I have with a broken man

The well is dry

The well is empty

Now, I must let go of a broken man

My broken son

Until he finds the pieces

Until he finds the peace

To share his brokenness

With me

His broken mom


Coventry CT

Her Glory

Dressed and ready

It is late in the day

She doesn’t like mornings

So she sleeps them away


Two cups of coffee

Coursing through her veins

And a hot pulsing shower

To release the night pains


The routine set in motion

Light housekeeping and such

The routine keeps her going

And keeps her in touch


Life is what you make it

So the saying goes

She makes hers simple

No ribbons or bows


She thinks of her children

And where they might be

And how long it’s been

Since she set them free


She used to greet mornings

With fervor and haste

Running off to her job

With no time to waste


Those days, her glory

A sign on her door

Said she was important

With a title and more


Her career was her chalice

Always filled to the brim

With responsible decisions

And stress building within


One day it ended

Because she was so ill

Her doctor had scolded

And gave her a pill


She went for a rest

Long and much needed

Her doctors advice

Well, she finally heeded


A long time has passed

Since she put on a suit

Since she welcomed mornings

Since she brought home the loot


So gradual, the changes

So gradual, the fall

So gradual her decline

And fears of losing it all


Yet, somehow she’s grateful

For one hell of a ride

For a chance to be better

For a chance to feel pride


She knows how to do it

How to rise to the top

No matter the challenge

Her climb will not stop


In the face of fear

In the face of denial

In the face of adversity

Her face will still smile


To read this small story

From beginning to end

You learn a bit more

About me, your friend




Coventry CT

Say When

This poem floated around for a couple of days, days that were filled with overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and grief. Feelings that lied, telling me I was worthless and unlovable. Feelings that judged me as a person with a history filled with mistakes and regrets. To be this low, this depressed, I knew that I could no longer bear feeling like this alone and reached out to people. Thanks to kind words and encouragement, I was able to manage this depressive episode at home and not in a hospital. To live with a mental illness is difficult. Through the years, I have educated myself enough to know when I have to ask for help. Help to propel me back to a place where I can overcome feelings of hopelessness and scream back to the devious lies depression dishes out in heaping volumes. Lies that try to make me believe that a problem can not be solved or that the ugliness I see through the clouds of sadness is really beauty. Beauty of living life to the fullest and facing problems and discouragements head on, with power, confidence and clarity. Though my condition is a chemical imbalance, known as bi-polar disorder, stress plays a large part in my overall well-being. When faced with a long series of personal and family issues, I have to be extremely cognizant of my moods and any extreme ups or downs. I live on the low side of bi-polar illness and am prone to depressive episodes. I usually can catch myself quickly and make necessary adjustments to combat and contain the episode. It also helps that I have had the same doctor for almost 30 years who with a single phone conversation can get me headed back in the right direction, a stable direction, a more hopeful direction. Was this poem a cry for help? Yes. It also is a gauge and something I can refer to when in a better state of mind to remind myself just how low depression can drag me. It is my hope that anything I have learned about the mental illness I have been diagnosed with, may help someone else at some point in their life. Am I ashamed that the symptoms of the illness are so apparent? Yes. I strive to go easier on myself while not leaning into the illness as an excuse for bad judgment or behavior.  I strive for consistency and will continue to work hard managing this hellish disorder. I will always make myself available for anyone at any time to share what I have come to understand about living with bi-polar disorder. If  my personal disclosure can bring about even a minuscule change in awareness, then this poem was not written in vain. Be well. Be as well as you can be.


Say When


A hostess pours her guest a cup of coffee

She says “say when”

A grateful hand is raised

A judgement made


With a little room to spare

For cream and sugar


A mom serving her family dinner

She says, “say when”

Hungry hands are raised

Judgments made

Empty plates covered


With a little room to spare

For desert


A child gone astray

He says “say when”

A heartbroken hand is raised

Judgement made


With a little room to spare

For hope


A doctor treating a patient

With medication to ease the pain

The doctor says “say when”

Judgement made

A weak hand is raised


With a little room to spare

For more

And more


A life has been lived

The clock says “say when”

A  clouded judgement made

The hand is still


With no room to spare


For coffee

For caring

For loving

For worrying

For dying

For anything

Say when


Coventry CT


Once Again

White flag raised

In willing surrender

If mistakes were illegal

I’d be a repeat offender


Vulnerability on display

Fast curve balls flying

A mitt full of holes

Leather shredded from trying


I fancy the notion

That it must hurt to know me

The light I have shed

On the things that life show me


To cover my eyes

And feign enlightenment

Would create a truth

Quite fractured and bent


I’ve taken all roads

Disregarding terrain

Ignoring the warnings

Of washouts from rain


Fighting off reasons

To give up and crumble

No thank you I say

I can still crawl and stumble


White flag in my hand

Rolled up and tossed

If I gave up now

Then it all would be lost


Poetic justice

Frees my incarceration

Allows me passage

Through a hard situation


Once again

As it always does

Words make what is

Something that was


November 27, 2013

Coventry CT

My Little World

My little world

Is walls

With art

And pictures


Is space

With things

Given to me

From my childrens’ hands


Is tidy

And cared for

And looked after

And never taken for granted


Is warm

Or cold

As I need it to be

As I choose it to be

Just right


Is comfortable

In its shabby way

Things of old

Things of yesterday

Always a seat

Empty and waiting


Is safe

The lock on the door is broken

And always stays locked

All by itself

I don’t know why

That’s how broken things are


My little world

Likes to keep me in it

Sheltered from the noise

And the mess

And the scary things

All around it

My little world

My little place

My little home


Coventry CT


The Other Side

I find myself

More and more


Less and less

These days

On the other side


I find my heart

Though still beating

To be

More cautious

These days

On the other side


I find my boundaries

Higher and higher

Wrapping around me

Stifling my wanderlust

These days

On the other side


I find my ambition

To be intertwined

With those achievements

Earned by others

These days

On the other side


I find my spirit

Though splintered 

And broken

Though crushed

And tattered

To be alive

As it ever was

Higher than the fences

Deeper than the wounds

Stronger than the body 

That contains it

These days

On the other side


October 12, 2013

Coventry CT


Before You Leave

For my children.


Before you leave

Before you say goodbye

Put your hand on the door

Walk down the steps

Get into your car

Before all that

Let me have one more look

At your beautiful, young face

Your anticipation for your future

Your hope that everything will be okay

Your confidence and firm belief in your abilities

Let me wrap my arms around you

So tight, I can feel your heartbeat

Until I am ready

Until I am steady

Before you leave

Let me say “I Love You”

Before you leave

Before you say



Coventry CT

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