The Sweetest Gift.

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Yoga session with my boys. Classic: Chewy right there with me and Kiko giving me his opinion.

It hasn’t been terribly long without our boys, Kiko and Chewy. They were a pair. Chewy may have left us first, but our boys were always “Kiko and Chewy.” Like salt and pepper, they were a set.

Now, I won’t get into all the mush about “the hard” since we had to let them go a short time ago. Our hearts are healing, even if a few pieces are missing.

This is actually happy story. 

Chewy was laid to rest, but with the timing of everything (like the frozen ground) we could not do that with Kiko. Hats off to the peeps who handle that sort of thing. They sent us a paw print and a tuft of fur along with his cedar box.

More than a month ago, I came across a website that makes actual gemstones from the ashes or hair of our loved ones…. something we could easily do for Kiko, but not for Chewy. This was problematic.

For weeks, I wondered where Chewy could’ve been that we haven’t cleaned yet so I could get a little bit of his fur and then it hit me like a freight train. 

About five years ago, I had a classmate in massage school that spun her own yarn. Since my boys blew their coats at least twice a year – in amounts that could build another dog or two – I offered her some fur and she accepted. Two large (full!) ziplock bags later, she had plenty of material to work with. And that was the last I heard of it.

I held my breath as I sent her a message hoping she was a little like me with a few unfinished projects lying around. 

She was quick to respond that, in fact, she did have some and she would gladly mail it out to me. She wouldn’t accept payment for shipping, even though I would’ve paid double. Triple even.

And then, my sweet girl got sick, then I got sick and I forgot all about it. Until yesterday.

I received a package from an address I didn’t recognize. (Truthfully, I thought I ordered something from Etsy in one of my middle-of-the-night-should-be-sleeping shopping sessions. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the lack of sleep version of drunk dialing.)

A sob caught in my throat when I realized that package contained the two original bags of fur. Each labeled with their names. Apparently, I was so fixated on these bags I didn’t realize there was a third bag. My husband handed it to me.

It was a woven scarf made of fur.

I held it, assuming it was my boys, and tears welled up. It was then I noticed the bright yellow envelope. Upon opening it, I revealed a cute card with two dogs in the back of a pickup truck.

Inside it read:IMG_9515

Amber,

May your memories of Chewy & Kiko be forever happy!   ❤

(The scarf is Chewy.)

In an instant, I felt like he was given back to me. I can’t explain it really. Losing them both was hard, but losing Chewy was almost unbearable. Maybe it was suddenness of it or his lack of ailments/issues or maybe it was because he was mine. 

By some twist of fate, I gave a woman some fur and she gave it back to me years later when I needed it. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

Today didn’t go as planned. Take two.

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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.

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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. 

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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.)

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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The coat blowouts deserve their own picture. Nothing less than a rake, 4 hands and shop vac would do.

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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.

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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.

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Kiko. Just moments before his final sleep. RIP. 2003-2016

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.

Introducing: Skylar

If you’ve been hanging out with me here or on Facebook, you may know that we recently had to put our 11-year-old pup, Chewy, down. It was so unexpected and sudden, it took my breath away. The whole experience was crippling.

After a week, I took to Petfinder to search for his old rescue ad, holding out hope that maybe someone forgot to take his photo and information down.  No such luck.

Instead: I found Skylar. 

He’s a husky/shepherd mix, just like Chewy, and was available for adoption. Of course, what drew me to him was his appearance. A spitting image of Chewy. Then I watched a few videos of him and it was all over.

His mannerisms were spot on. In a room of 15-20 dogs, he wasn’t too puppy and his antics were adorable.

Before we knew it, we were planning a camping trip five hours away and packing up the van. We discussed that Skylar was not Chewy’s replacement, to which my son replied, “no, replacing him would be if we called him Chewy, too.”

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Can’t argue with logic.

It didn’t take us long to know he belonged with us. At 2 years old, he was the perfect match. And our 12-year-old dog, Kiko, was appreciative to NOT have a brand new puppy all up in his face, too.

In less than 24 hours, we had him walking on a leash (which he wasn’t a fan of), riding a boat, and sleeping in a tent. It was odd how quickly he blended into our little family. It made the transition that much easier since I was still carrying some grief and a side guilt to go along with it.

For the first few days, all I could think of was Chewy. How much he looked like him. How much he behaved like him. How much shepherd was in him. But time wore that away and I began to see Sky for who he really was.

A total red-headed husky.

He’s such a ball of energy and a complete snuggle bug. Within a few hours of owning him, he was glued to my side. It amazed me at how well he did with the kids, right out of the gate.

Also, he’s a total pillow stealer.


Sky transitioned to our home very quickly. It’s been a week and he’s already getting down the basic commands, settling into routines, and participating in shenanigans.

He’s doted on and growled at (by Kiko) and learning his place in our family dynamics.

Our nightly walks have improved by leaps and bounds… or should I say there’s LESS leaps and bounds?

He has been a perfect gentleman in every way.

(Except maybe his ferreting/late night partying tendencies.)

It’s been an interesting ride this summer. I am so grateful to the woman who saved Skylar (literally on the day he was scheduled to be put down) and brought him back to health.

I contemplated sharing some of his “before” photos, but they are just so heartbreaking and we’ve had enough heartbreak around here. Instead, I see this as such a happy turnaround for two very undesirable situations.

Where one dog found his wings, another landed himself in a butterfly headband with wings of his own. 


Welcome home, buddy.