This morning’s silence was deafening. Last night was the kind of nightmare that brought about puffy eyes, kept morning breath at bay (that requires sleep) and delivered a raw punch of reality.
That reality: Kiko, our almost 13-year-old pup, was nearing the end of his journey.
It’s safe to say, my husband and I cut our parenting teeth on this guy – almost 13 years ago.
Kiko was a love right out of the gate. Such a typical husky in so many ways. And so not, in so many others. He was picked from a litter of rambunctious pups, all yapping that we should pick them.
“That one,” my then boyfriend said.
“The one with the big belly – the one not jumping all over the fence?”
“Yep. He’s the one.”
“Um. What if he’s sick?”
“No. He’s ours.”
And boy was he ever ours.
Like Chewy, he was every bit a part of this family. A big part. To the kids, he was as permanent as their parents. We’ve never lived anywhere without him.
Kiko was the original Husky of Shenanigans. (Sky took up the slack just after Chewy left us, but Kiko was king.)
In fact, Kiko has a series of children’s books written from his perspective. Each tale a little more unbelievable than the last, but even better: they are all true. From locking my pregnant-self out of the house, 2AM porcupine run-ins, and drawing a local crowd with his rooftop antics.
He definitely had character.
When we were all much younger, it was not uncommon for my husband to pat his chest and Kiko would dash across the yard. At full sprint, he would leap into his arms and be held like a baby. Seriously, I’ve never met a more charismatic dog. Or a bigger baby.
Kiko was our own personal weatherman. If there was snow coming, he’d let us know well before it showed up. To him, snow was delicious.
The coat blowouts deserve their own picture. Nothing less than a rake, 4 hands and shop vac would do.
Last night was the kind experience I wouldn’t like to revisit anytime soon. It was filled with pacing, sobs and laying on the cold frozen ground while he let us hold him. It was filled with pain. And a lot of it.
At one point, we got Kiko in the house where we spent hours full of worry and effort to get him comfortable. Not long later, maybe 5AM, our 6-year-old found us in the basement. After a mini-kid-rated briefing, she sat with us. She pat him and said plainly, “he doesn’t feel the same.”
She was right. He didn’t.
It was the same feeling I experienced when we had to let Chewy go, less than 6 months ago. I witnessed him leaving us firsthand. This time it wasn’t so fast. The process was slow, like he was seeping away so we wouldn’t feel the sudden shudder. We knew it was time.
Somehow he made it through the night. We had the kids give him some lovin’s before leaving – under the impression that, “Kiko is sick and we’ll see how today goes.”
The sun illuminated a path to the bus as the kids got on and I made the appointment. They couldn’t be present for this and we weren’t about to send them to school with that kind of information.
By the time the appointment was over, the illuminated sun had dimmed to dark clouds. With emptiness in our hearts, we drove home. The road blurred with tears.
Rest easy, Ki-Ki.