Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Heartbeat At My Feet and The One in My Memories

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Sorry guys, but here it is. The unavoidable post about the two dogs that have brought more happiness into my life than most people ever will. I may or may not be a crazy dog lady, but I'll never confirm or deny it.

My life changed on August 15, 2010 when I was sitting on the beach in Santa Monica and I got a text with no words, only a picture of the little guy that would quickly become by best friend.

 I'll rewind a little bit though. Shortly after I graduated high school I bought my first car. While my mum and I were walking around the dealership checking out the used cars, I was talking to her about how I couldn't wait to get a dog now that I was moving into my own place. I didn't know where I was going to get the dog, or even what kind it would be...I just knew that I was going to name him Kaiser. Before I could finish my sentence the dealer said, "Hey! My dog's pregnant!" And that was it, I left the dealership with a car and a promise of a puppy! I waited for my little guy to be born for nearly two months. That summer my ex-boyfriend and I went to visit his family in Santa Monica like we did each summer. We actually had just broken up right before the trip so I was extremely hesitant about going, but because the plans had already been made I went. This time his aunt asked me to go on Good Day LA to showcase one of the Boxers that was with Boxer Rescue LA at the time, an organization his family was very involved in. I was super shy at the time but because I'm so passionate about animals and wanted to get involved too, I agreed to it. The night before I went on, I got to spend the night with the dog that I would be taking on TV so he could get comfortable around me and I could get to know his personality a little bit. He was an old, beat up male Boxer with one ear...whose name was Kaiser. I had my heart set on naming my puppy Kaiser for months before I met this dog and here I was...hanging out with the first dog named Kaiser that I had ever met...the same week my puppy was born!

When I got back to Washington the first thing I did was drive to the car dealer's house so I could meet my puppy. The second I held him I was absolutely in love. Less than a month after he was born, Kaiser's mom got sick so I had to take him home on September 11th at very short notice. At less than four weeks old he was far too young to be taken from his mother, but we had no choice. For the next four weeks I bottle feed Kai every two hours.

At night I wouldn't be able to fall asleep because I was too focused on the thought that I had to be up again in two hours, and if I did fall asleep, by that point I only had a half an hour left before it was time to feed him again. While I was at work my family had to help out. It took a lot but it was so worth it. The bond that we built was incredible, I think Kaiser really thought I was his mom. And in a way I was. 

I had a lot to talk about at that point in my life and my new puppy was the best confidant. I spent many hours nurturing him and just loving him while he listened and never judged me. That might be one of the best things about animals (: Like I mentioned, that summer I had just graduated high school, bought my first car, and moved into my own place. I had also just broken up with my boyfriend of two years who had been living with me, and of course when this happened...one of us had to move out. He went back to living with his parents and I felt bad about all of it. The failed relationship and then him having to pick up and move right after we had settled in. But that wasn't all that happened that summer. When I was 18, I wasn't at a healthy point in my life in general and to top things off, my parents had just informed my siblings and I that they were going to be getting a divorce. With all of the unfortunate things going on in the first few months that I had Kai, there were the good things to. Like the start of a "new" romance with the man that I'm still with today. I say "new" because I had actually dated him years before. It's weird how things work out sometimes. Between all the crying, heartache, and giddy in-love,18-year-old girl crap...that poor dog heard it all and he still adored me. At the end of that summer, my boyfriend moved away for school so it was just me and Kaiser everyday. He was with me through some of the biggest transitions in my and made sure that I was never alone, no matter how alone I felt at times.

On January 15, 2012, I left the house in the snow to go hot tubbing with a friend. When I pulled up to my house a few hours later I was talking on the phone with my boyfriend and I told him I had to go because my mum and sister were looking at me through the living room window and they were crying.

My grandma had been diagnosed with cancer a few years before and my first thought was that she wasn't doing well, or they had found more cancer. However, the second I walked in the door I knew it wasn't gramma. Kaiser wasn't there. He wasn't in the living room window spinning in circles waiting for me to come in like he always did. He wasn't laying down sleeping, he wasn't playing outside. Instantly I started to panic and started yelling. I was yelling, "Is it Kaiser!? What happened!? WHERE IS HE!?" and my mum told me that he was in the garage. I ran to the garage and opened the door, fully expecting to sit with my dog until he died. But when I opened the door, the garage was silent, I didn't see Kai anywhere until I noticed a box in the middle of the garage. He was already dead. Kaiser loved snow and that night when my mum let him outside to go to the bathroom, he must have been so excited that he ran a little farther from the house than normal and he was hit and died instantly. He wasn't even a  year and a half old. My mum didn't want to call me while I was with my friends and ruin my night, so she waited for me to get home. After Kaiser died, I didn't sleep for days, I didn't go to work, I didn't leave my bed, and I hardly I ate. I thought that I would never want another dog again and I blamed myself more than anything. If I hadn't had left the house that night, it never would have happened. My only job had been to love and protect this little life, and I failed.

In December 2012 everything changed very unexpectedly. A picture of a puppy was posted on facebook saying that he and a few others needed homes.

The next day I drove to a secondhand pet supply store and bought the bare minimums, drove to the reservation, and brought home Vinny. I hadn't told my mum (who I was living with again) or even my boyfriend. Actually, the first person to find out was my little sister. Vinny, like Kaiser, was only about a month old when I brought him home. He had been born on November 13th but the puppies needed homes as quickly as possible. I don't know why I brought him home because at that point, my heart was still hurting over Kaiser and I didn't know if I was fully ready for another dog, but I felt like he needed me. When I picked Vinny up and I pulled out of the parking lot, I looked over at him in the passenger seat and just started bawling.

 Even with all the bottle feeding I had to do with Kaiser, Vinny seemed much harder to raise. He was my little problem child. Now as he's grown older, I see so much of Kaiser in him. Vinny's now almost as old as Kaiser was when he died, but twice as big! If I didn't know any better, I would swear that they were the same dog. Don't get me wrong, Vinny is an incredibly unique little guy of his own, with his own quirks and personality. But he reminds me so much of Kaiser. Before Vinny, I would only cry when I thought of Kaiser. I couldn't recall any of the happy moments with him, I couldn't remember what his snuggles felt like or the little things he would do, I could only remember what it felt like to hold his body in the garage. If I was lucky, I could hear the sounds he made while he was running in his sleep when I laid down at night, but that was it. Now that I have Vinny, I remember it all. I remember the silly things Kaiser did, all the times that I would carry him around the house even though he was way too big, the goofy looks he gave me, the time that I put him on the trampoline, the time that dork fell off of our two story roof (and survived-long story), everything. I don't know what I believe about the afterlife yet, or if there even is one. But I do believe that somehow Kaiser sent me Vinny, call me crazy. And I'm so thankful because now I can't imagine my life without my little sidekick and I'm so grateful that I have him.

On January 15th 2013, it had been a year since Kaiser was killed and I thought I'd take Vinny to his grave to decorate it with me. For a few minutes, my spastic little puppy just laid there next to his grave like he knew exactly where we were. Some of you who have never had a truly special bond with an animal will read this and be like, "Whattttt the helllllll....", but those of you who have experienced that bond and who have lost it, you will know exactly what it's like. Animals are so special and we can learn so much from them. Now I'm done reminiscing and being emotional, here enjoy some adorable pictures of Vinny playing in the snow that we've had for the past few days and a flashback of his very first taste of snow! Now go love on your pet. And if you've lost a special pet and feel like you don't have it in you to get another, or you feel like you'll be "replacing them"...I highly recommend giving it a shot. There are so many animals out there that need love and they each have so much to offer. Don't deprive yourself of experiencing that bond again. It's not what your last pet would want anyway. 



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