Thursday, April 28, 2011

On Friendship

Today, I learned a lot about friendship from a sweet 2 year old name Anna. What sometimes takes years for me to cultivate, took her a mere hour, after staying in the nursery at church this morning. Upon leaving, she said, “Bye friends!” in her small, sweet voice. ~roots and wings

(My dear friend put this quote on her Tumbler site and I wanted to share it on my blog. The picture was taken that weekend in Austin where we had a great time seeing old friends and watching Anna make new ones.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Sweet Kia

"My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet." ~Edith Wharton

Exactly one month ago today, the little heartbeat of our home stopped as we said good-bye to our precious dog, Kia.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was turning 15, and my mom agreed to get me a dog for my birthday. I had researched for months, looking at countless dog books at the library and reading through the newspaper classifieds (this was way before the days of google and craigslist). I read an ad for an 8 month old female Bichon Frise puppy that was only $100. I hadn't really considered a Bichon because they were usually around $300. I called right away they still had her, so we drove out to meet her. My family still gives me a hard time about this but I have to admit, when I first saw her, I was disappointed. Not because I didn't think she was cute, but because she didn't look like all the perfectly groomed Bichons I had seen in all the books (turns out, she never would :). Like I said, I still thought she was cute and I wanted her so we took her home.

On the way home we tossed around several names for her but had not been able to decide on one. We stopped at HEB to buy her food, leash, collar and bowl. The cashier was a girl from Hawaii and her nametag read "Kia". I don't remember who suggested it, but we all decided that was the perfect name for my new little doggie (this was also before the Kia car brand came out). That day, we bought a blue plastic bowl with one side for water and one for food. We still have that blue dish after all these years. Dog paraphernalia has gotten so trendy over the last few years and I have considered cuter bowls but never saw a need to get rid of the original blue one.

From the beginning, she was my little baby. Eventhough I was 15, I dressed her up in my old doll clothes and carried her on my hip. She never seemed to mind. She was such a lap dog, as long as she was being held or in someone's lap, she was happy. She was always more like a person than a dog...she never dug in the ground, played with dog toys or even liked dog bones (o.k., the one exception was that she liked to get into the trash). She was such a perfect dog that my mom and sister even got a poodle and a Bichon hoping they would be just like Kia. Let's just say, Kia was one of a kind. I would even joke to Brad that we should take her to A&M to have her cloned because we would never be able to replace her.

She was with me through such significant years and major life events...the teenage years, college, marriage and even a baby. The only constant in my life at times. I was always so thankful that Brad loved and cared for her almost as much as I did. He recently reminded me that she lived with him when I did a 6-month internship in Idaho. Even after that period of time, her loyalty instantly returned to me when I walked through the door after I came home. I remember crying when we were driving home from the hospital with Anna (keep in mind I was very hormonal at the time) telling Brad how bad I felt for Kia because her life as she knew it was going to change.

As expected, it did change since Anna definitely became our priority. I think Kia looked forward to the end of the day after Anna was asleep when she could get up on the couch and cuddle with us. Although Anna loved Kia and I have to say was very good with her, Kia never returned the affection. She basically just tried to steer clear of her but never once became aggressive or irritated with her.

Sadly, not long after Anna joined our family, Kia's health started to decline. We put stairs by the couch and our bed so that she could get up and down. Then we had to take the stairs away because she had trouble getting down them. She developed cataracts and lost most of her hearing. She no longer was able to take walks with us in the evenings. Eventually, her dementia progressed to the point where she became incontinent and paced aimlessly around the house. I began to pray for God to take her so I wouldn't have to make the decision.

This may sound crazy to some of you, but on October 19, 2010, I wrote in my journal that as I was praying about Kia I heard the words "red roses". I thought maybe this meant that once red roses started blooming, it would be time for Kia to go. When spring began I had this in the back of my head and started looking for roses but never saw any. I finally scheduled an appointment to meet with a vet to discuss Kia's condition and I thought maybe there would be a rosebush outside the office or something. During the time that we were deciding what to do with Kia - nothing, not one sign of a red rose anywhere, so I dismissed that it was from God. The day after we said good-bye, I noticed that my neighbor's newly planted red rose bush began to bloom. Then a couple days later, I was at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens and saw roses, including red ones, everywhere. In the last month, I have noticed roses all over the place! Everytime I see one, it is a sweet reminder of little Kia. I have also decided to plant a rose bush in our yard as a remembrance of her.

Although her presence is missed by all of us, we have peace with the timing of her passing and are forever thankful for the selfless love she gave all 17 years and 4 months of her time on earth.

A Few Thoughts from Brad:
I don't want to take much of your time, but if you are interested I would like to add a couple of words about Kia. I also remember the first time I met her. I was in college, and I was going to pick up this hot girl to go on our very first date. I was nervous and very excited. Then, I was surprised when I was told to hold on for just a minute because we would have to let the dog downstairs on the grass to go to the bathroom before we went to the movies. So, out comes this little fluffy white dog on a purple leash. The way I figured it, she was kind of interrupting my well planned out evening. But, what was I going to do? I couldn't say no. I would just have to wait. Now, I'm not going to lie - I was not all that impressed with Kia at the very start. She was not a guy's dog. She was white, fluffy and small. I remember her hopping around on the grass that evening like a bunny rabbit, and really she kind of reminded me of one. But I could tell from the start how much Kelli loved her, and it was very obvious that this dog would come with the hot girl -- they were a package deal. Kia quickly grew on me, though. She was so calm and loving that I couldn't help but give her some love and attention back.

After we graduated from college, Kelli took 6 months to go live in Idaho for an internship, and I got the privilege of taking care of Kia for those 6 months. So, I would take Kia on walks before and after work every day by myself. Now, if you can imagine...a "taken" guy walking a cute dog in might think that could incite unwanted attention. But that's just the thing....she did incite unwanted attention, just not the attention from whom you might initially expect! :) Seriously though, it was a nice time to get to know Kia and to have the opportunity to take care of her. She would get so happy to see me when I came home from work, and I really enjoyed having her during that time.

When Kelli and I got married, I adopted Kia as my own dog. I viewed her as ours after that...she became my first dog -- something I had always wanted growing up. She was a true lapdog and I miss that -- even now. After she started having health problems, there were fewer opportunities to sit with her and pay attention to her as she would want to get down and pace around. Gradually, there was more and more distance -- and I am a little sad about that. But, I suppose that's a natural thing. It's good to remember her now though, as the loving lapdog that she was in her prime. We'll miss her.