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.
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.
Here is link with information about canine diabetes.