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The road feels so heavy today. It isn’t raining but somehow I find it hard to see through the tears. As your Daddy scoops you up in his arms and sets you gently down in the back of the truck, we all recognize… this is your last road trip.
The Last Road Trip
I remember your first road trip like it was yesterday. We brought a little yellow duck to give you and you trotted back and forth in front of your brothers and sisters, head held high in the air, tail wagging a mile a minute. You squeaked that duck to mock them.. and it was then I just knew that we would bring each other so much joy.
I can still feel you climbing all over my lap and then falling asleep in my arms as we rode home for the first time. You were 10 weeks old.
I remember the first time I realized you had made a Mommy out of me. I was preparing dinner and you were dutifully stuck to me like glue. I looked down and your precious little face had such a look of love and adoration (for me.. not for the food. At least that is what I told myself). I bent down, took your face in my hands, kissed your snout, and exclaimed, ‘Kelby, no matter what happens, you will always be my first baby. You made me a Mommy.’
You loved your first road trip to the beach. It was Christmas day and really, who can resist going to the beach on Christmas day when you live in Hawaii? That was when we just knew you would be a beach dog. You loved to swim! Over the next few years we racked up many beach road trips, always with the window rolled down, always with your head stuck out– ears and jowls flapping in the wind with glee! You swam after surfers and then rode the waves back to shore. You chased after sticks and gave your Daddy and me more than one heart attack. Still, at the end of every beach day, we stopped at Matsumoto’s for shaved ice, a coveted prize for a worn out, but happy, puppy.
You were never very good at taking walks, so we took tons of road trip to the bark park. You knew the road to the park well, and would start crying and squirming with anticipation as we rounded the corner to the parking lot. Once inside you sniffed butts, chased friends, and even got into a little trouble. I remember the time you growled at that dog who was coming after me.
I also remember the time you were bit by that pit bull. The road trip to the vet clinic was not fun.. but you were a trooper.
Then when we took that super long and scary road trip across the ocean. We tried to keep you as comfortable as possible. I remember how scared you looked when the baggage handlers rolled you into the claim area. As soon as you saw me and Daddy, you ears perked up. Soon, you were flirting with all the little girls in the airport. You were always such a little ladies man.. and really, who could resist that adorable face!
I remember when we drove up to meet your cousins in Washington State. You were 3 years old, the same age as your older cousin. Wouldn’t you know that you played with her just like you were long lost friends? You had no idea you were not a little kid. You loved your younger cousin too.. she was just a baby, and you were so gentle with her as you sucked the tennis balls out of her outstretched hand.
It was then that we went on our epic road trip across the country. The truck was loaded up with most of our wordly possessions, so there wasn’t much space for you. That was ok though. As your Daddy and I held hands in the front seat, there was plenty of room for you to lay your head on top of our intertwined arms. Puppy makes three! It was on that road trip you met even more of your canine relatives:
- You pulled Gunner and Sparky across the floor during a tug of war contest. Two on one.. but boy, you were such a strong dog.
- Meeting Uncle Bella was your favorite. The two of you hit it off like long lost friends. Bella was probably your best doggie buddy. Over the past 8 years, the two of you did an awful lot of playing. You loved road trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in the Adirondacks most of all.
When we moved into our first home, we kind of exchanged road trips for playing fetch. You didn’t mind though– you lived for those tennis balls. You could play fetch for an hour or more at a time. You could catch the ball in mid-air. You would pull the ball out of the ball flinger if we weren’t careful. You were a fetch monster.
So, when you stopped wanting to play fetch, we knew something was wrong.
It started about 3 1/2 years ago, and we realized that you were going blind. You exchanged your frantic frenzy and marathon fetch sessions for more belly rubs and outside ‘meditation.’ You loved being outside.. listening to the birds, and the kids, and the wind blowing through the trees.
The you stopped wanting to walk up and down the stairs. Well, you wanted to.. but really, you weren’t able to. Your hip dysplasia was just too much for you. So, we exchanged your big fluffy bed on the floor next to me, for an orthopedic bed pad in the living room. You didn’t really mind. You were retired.. you still got the belly rubs. You still craved your treats.
Your sister was born.. and your place in the universe was dramatically altered. You were still loved and adored, but you were no longer the center of attention. In a way that was ok though. I mean, she was kind of cute. She smelled interesting anyway. Your relationship with her didn’t get complicated until much later when you accidentally stepped on her toys, or when she ‘not-so-accidentally’ pulled your tail. Even so, when she interrupted your nap to crawl inside the kennel with you, you totally ate it up.
But then you stopped eating. Not all at once.. but you got more picky with your dog food. Then you stopped eating your favorite treats. Then you stopped eating altogether.
And we knew it was time. It was then that your Daddy and I knew you were telling us you needed to go on one last road trip.
We know that you will love being reunited with Bella, and Gunner, and Sparky. We know that you will merely trade belly rubs from us for belly rubs from Grammie Newton.. and Grandma Reimers.. and your cousin Jen. We know that as you provided us, and countless others, with much love and support over the last 12 years here on earth, you will continue to both give and receive that love and support in heaven.
And we know that you will wait patiently for us to join you. You are already softening those tennis balls for the best game of fetch yet.
Your head is already sticking out the car window.. and your ears are already flapping in the wind as you feel the heavenly sunshine on your face.
We love you Kelby-monster. You have blessed us in so many ways. Now go in peace little man.
Kelby– July 25, 2003 to September 10, 2015
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