On this day one week before Christmas, I’m varying my usual format for a special reason.
Our beloved canine companion Kita’s departure the week before Christmas four years ago makes this day a bittersweet one for us every year. Anyone who loves their furry family members and who has had to deal with their deaths, surely understands the heartache associated with this event.
Anyone who has read some of my blog posts may recall that I have posted about Kita, hubby’s and my 12 1/2- year-old black lab. Her “full” name as a purebred, on her papers, was Nikita Ebony, born on May 6, 2000.
She had a cancerous tumor removed over the summer; she seemed to have overcome that scare, but in early December, her health began deteriorating rapidly, suggesting the vet was not able to remove the cancerous cells entirely, combined with common senior dog health issues. It began with her not eating much of anything for a few days in a row; then she started having problems getting up from a prone position, and needed help from one of us to lift her back end and help her outside.
She was such a good dog, trained all those years to NOT do her business inside, even on stacks of newspaper–we couldn’t convince her it was OK. Instead, obviously with great effort and pain, she required our assistance to get outside. Hubby built a ramp, so Kita wouldn’t have to navigate the stairs.
We kept hoping she would recover, regain some strength – but signs of the inevitable end were too painfully obvious. The happy dog who used to wag her tail all the time and greet hubby at the door when he got home from work – or me, when I returned from shopping trips or errands – was no longer able to do that, although she tried to get up, but couldn’t without help. She could no longer get up on the couch or on our bed to join us; hubby took out the bed frame and box spring so she could at least lie on the mattress with us.
The day she made no effort to get up to greet hubby after work – followed by a 1am outing during which she collapsed in the snow and I struggled to get her back inside, as I wept and didn’t care who heard or saw me – convinced us finally that we had to make that difficult decision to say goodbye to our beloved canine companion.
Hubby made the call to our vet, who had graciously made the offer to come to our house again for Kita’s final day: December 18, 2012. The night before, Kita spent nearly the whole night on our mattress with us – all of our cats joined us at one time or another, as well, obviously sensing the end. They loved our Kita girl, too.
The compassion of our vet and vet’s assistant, from Lewiston Veterinary Hospital, was wonderful and comforting on our last day with Kita; they allowed us all the time we needed to prepare, and then to say our final goodbyes. Kita’s “cremains” returned home on December 26th, in a beautiful cedar chest urn. We set up a “Kita Memorial” in our den.
The wonderful family who operates Fluke’s Aftercare (named after their beloved deceased canine, Fluke) also included some tufts of Kita’s fur, a pawprint, and this beautifully worded certificate.
Rest in peace, sweet Kita girl. You were a big part of our lives for 12 years. There was a void in our lives until we adopted two more sweet canine companions over the four years since your departure. They will never replace you, but we believe you would have wanted us to give another dog or two a home, to love and share as we did with you, and perhaps facilitate the healing process for our broken hearts.
We love you and miss you!
Thank you for your many years of faithful companionship and protection.
I made this memorial pillow –just so hubby and I could hug “her” once in awhile!
(I also have it listed at Etsy as a sample for anyone else who might want to order one
with their own beloved pet’s photo).
So how about YOU?
Do any of you have some bittersweet memories that tend to mix sadness into what is otherwise a season of joy?