On Thursday, Kaya passed away. She died, peacefully, in her sleep. I found her in one of her favorite napping positions. Expert nappist that she was, she had a few. All things considered, she didn’t suffer and went quietly in her sleep. Few could hope for more.
At eight and half, she was too young to have died of old age. Near as we have been able to figure, after consulting with friends who know of such things, we think she had a genetic fault in her heart. Nothing could have changed the outcome. She also didn’t have a prolongued period of suffering. She was hungry as ever at meal time the night before. And happy as always when we got home that evening. I think that’s important.
I don’t want to talk about her death. I’d rather talk about how she will be remembered. The simple truth of it is Kaya was the best dog I’ve ever known. She was the archetype for faithful companion and a candidate for patron saint of making every day a Lazy Sunday. And she knew how to mix it perfectly.
Kaya was literally made of love. Anyone, friends and family, who ever interacted with Kaya know those aren’t flowery remembrances. It was always “Hey guys! How ya doin’ guys! Want to play with this cool toy I just found? Or should we just relax on the couch?” Whatever she did, she was happy to do it. She was rarely grouchy or pouty. She even loved viciously snarling at mailmen to protect us from evil doers. Best. Dog. Ever.
When we moved into a house in Gainesville, there was a family with a young child across the street. Just old enough to walk comfortably on her own. One day, we were playing outside with Kaya and got distracted by something in the garage. When we looked back, she had carefully herded the little girl to our yard and was playing very gently with her whilst making “Can we keep her?” eyes at us.
You’d really have to have seen Kaya play to appreciate the difference in her demeanor. Back then, one her favorite games was run around really fast in a big circle, gleeful as can be, until you pass out. Kaya and I also spent a fair amount of time wrestling and snarling at each visciously to pass the time. It was like watching Shrek play fake tea time. It totally blew our minds.
Oh, yeah, and life was never dull with Kaya. Always an adventure. Like, this one time, she kidnapped a child from across the street and asked if we could keep her on account of her being so fun. Thank god the mom had met the dog and was amused. Because, now that I think about it, that could have been really awkward. But, that was Kaya. She was always so damn gleeful about everything it was hard to be worried about her. Even though she was a hundred pound golden retriever. Gentle giant.
She never gave out big lick dog kisses. She did back scratching, hugs, or human blanket affection. Okay, I editorialized that for her benefit. It was butt scratches. She used to sprawl out on the couch and Danielle or I would come over and lay on top of her. Sure, she would sigh as though resigned to her fate. But, if you got up to go, she’d look up like “Hey, we were doing something, you know?”
But, if you were feeling down, Kaya would suss it out and come over plant the most awkward dog lick kiss on your face. Rendering it impossible not to at least chuckle. A few nights ago, I was down about life, the universe, minimum wage and had my face resting in my hands. Kaya came over and forced her tongue through my fingers, ultimately licking my eye. When I looked at her with the other eye she was like “Hey, man, I’m not good at the licking. Your fault for making it hard for me to do my job here.” And, really, how can you be bummed out when you’ve a dog that can communicate that with an awkward lick and a stare?
She was good with Claire. Really good. Anytime Claire ever cried over the monitor, or in the room, Kaya would come and get us to let us know that the baby was crying. Every single time. Kaya always got up with the baby. If the baby was taking a nap and woke up fussing, Kaya would bark at us if we were out on the deck. She was a tactical barker, that dog. And Claire loved climbing on her. Kaya would lay on one side of the couch. Claire would navigate her way from Danielle, over and around Kaya, to me standing at the end of the couch. Kaya never minded being a canine jungle gym for the little one.
What I’m trying to say is that Kaya was a full fledged member of this family. She happily gave and gave and gave to see us all happy. We are better for having enjoyed her company for the last eight and a half years. She was the best all around dog I have ever known.
She loved and was loved in return. No one could ask for a better life.
Claire has been steadily working toward walking on her own. She’s pretty close. Tonight, she discovered that if she pushed her Elmo truck around she could walk on her own. This provided nearly half an hour of entertainment for us.
She kept trying to drive the truck around the kitchen table. Apparently left turns are just really complicated. What happened most often was that a straight away shot would dead end. I mean, we’re in a house. You know? There’s only so many paces one can walk in any direction unobstructed. This infuriated the Princess of the Galaxy. Thank god she can’t shoot fireballs from her eyes. The ensuing conflagration would have been difficult to handle.
Although, she was kind of cute. First she would scream her rage. And then, she would look at one of us very demurely as if to draw our attention to the defect in the truck. Naturally, it wasn’t her driving. Anyroad, tonight was a fun a night playing with the baby.
There will be no discussion of Florida football.
Reading to Claire is a lot of fun. We’ve a number of baby sized baby books that one would normally read to a baby. She’s quite good with those. You know, turning the pages herself and so forth. Not so much with the actual reading. Which is okay. Because she’s only barely one. In a few months or so I might elevate that to issue-of-note.
Tonight, the reading went quite well. For the first four or five pages. Then Claire’s fascination with a big kid’s picture book took over and we spent a not unreasonable amount of time opening and closing the cover to the book. None the less, I declare it to have been a smashing success. Quite literally. Because CLAIRE SMASH! But, disaster was averted with a spanish tribute to the color rojo on her drum toy and a one minute dance party.
Alethea Kontis has written a follow up book to her original alphabet book AlpaOops. In honor of the approaching Halloween, and timeliness in general, I wanted to give a shout out to her and her utterly fantastic alphabet book.
A snip of her own words on the subject:
“Alphabet books are dumb. I mean, come on, really. What’s the point? It’s not like the English alphabet’s anything shiny and new. A generous smattering of years ago, Smarmy McTinkerson wrote twenty-six characters down in a scathing letter to the illiterate Viking brutes who sacked his village, and A has been for Apple ever since.”
The Princess of the Galaxy demands you go check out the rest of her words at: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/07/13/the-big-idea-alethea-kontis/
I’ve just picked up my copy today. And, without any serious spoilers, I commend any book wherin the Letter B, for would-be Buccaneer, complains that the Letter P, for Pirate, stole the costume. As we all know, I fully dig pirates (reference Claire’s first birthday party) and Daniel Day-Lewis (not featured in this book).
If you’re looking for a Halloween book for family or friends, or are just an avid collector (apparently they exist): Buy This Book. Call your local Barnes and Noble (Reston Chapter, what!) and demand they order it for you. Strike now and you can have a copy in your home in time for the best children’s holiday.
To be featured tomorrow (hopefully): A picture of me reading AlphaOops: H Is For Halloween with The Princess of the Galaxy.
The first thing I do when I get home these days is let Claire take me for a walk around the house. And, by that, I mean I let Claire use me for balance as she wanders aimlessly around the house. We’ll go check her room to make sure it’s still there. Then, to the picture window to make sure that’s there.
Later, she’ll check the sliding door if I’m reading on the deck to make sure I’m still there. It’s surprisingly like the scene in Wayne’s World where he’s banging on the window of the church.
The point is: Baby’s make you dance. Point and case –
Claire figured out awhile back that if you push the blue star, it makes everyone in the room dance. What was originally a game Danielle and I played has turned into a Law. As you can see, if The Princess of The Galaxy pushes the blue star and nobody dances THERE WILL BE ACCOUNTING!
So, friends, my advice, for those of you considering children, as Claire enters her fifteenth month on this planet is: Be careful of the games you start. There Will Be Laws. Daniel Day-Lewis and my own personal experience taught me that.
I really gotta kick this Daniel Day-Lewis thing.
I didn’t like how that first picture looked the other day. I’m still learning the tools. Rather than fiddle with the original, I’m just going to make a new post. Because I AM THE MASTER OF THIS DOMAIN. There will be no questions.
Also, maybe it’s a different picture. THERE WILL STILL BE NO QUESTIONS.