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Thursday, March 20, 2014

A once in a lifetime dog. . . RIP Kitai

I sent you away on a Tuesday, Kitai. It was two days before spring, the sky was blue, the breeze cool, and the sun shone brightly upon us as we spent our last day together.

My little sleepyhead napping the morning and afternoon away.

There are no words to articulate just how much I loved (and still love) Kitai. He was my touchstone, my best buddy, confidant, and travel companion. We were a perfect pair Kitai and I. It's wonderful how every now and then life brings you to exactly the place you need to be so that you meet exactly who you were meant to meet and wonderful things can happen.

The last two days of his life he also enjoyed the added luxury of lunch, a meal he never had until I realized there were three Niman Ranch hotdogs left and only two days of time left for my little fuzzball to eat them.

He loved lunch.

His face would light up when he realized he was getting an extra meal.

In the past five weeks he also enjoyed countless (daily) bully sticks. I can't even tell you how many he had but I'm pretty sure the people at the feed store must have thought I had multiple dogs at home because I was purchasing four or five at a time for weeks.

He enjoyed his last bully stick the night before he passed, gnawing away at it until there was nothing left but a little nub.

 You can tell even in this picture that he was tired. Though they were still bright, his eyes weren't quite as open as they used to be and if he wasn't eating all he wanted to do was sleep.

The day I adopted him from the shelter back in 2003 neither of us had any idea the adventures we would embark upon or that he would become TheCutestDogEver.com. The most notable moment in his life was probably our trip to NYC to be on the TODAY show Halloween morning 2007 when Kitai appeared as "The Dog Whisperer." He also had small cameos on HGTV, the Tonight Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Check out his press page to learn more.

Kitai was a goodwill ambassador for shelter dogs everywhere.

His Chia Pet costume continues to go viral on Pinterest. He was my muse, my model, unbelievably adorable, and a really good sport when it came to all of his costumes happily sitting through fittings for extra treats.

Our first night together we shared my twin bed. He fell off in the middle of the night. The next night I put him on the inside... And I fell off during the night. LOL. After that I bought a double bed so we could spend the night in comfort and safety.

The past few months we'd been sleeping in The Glampette together on a 31" wide mattress. Can't get much cozier than that. I loved it. I loved having him near even when he insisted on sleeping sideways taking up the entire width of the mattress. He would snore, kick me, and whenever he wanted a drink of water he'd have to wake me up and stare at the counter because I kept his water dish up there because there is no floor space.

In The Glampette

After he got sick he'd sometimes need to drink water 3-5 times a night and go out to go to the bathroom an equal number of times. Despite the interruptions I didn't mind. Everything I did for him I did out of love. There was nothing to be annoyed at or begrudge, he would just look at me with those warm brown eyes and I'd just melt. He also wanted to sit outside most nights enjoying the cool night air. The Prednisone made him hot and The Glampette being so well insulated it was just too warm for him sometimes even with the windows open and the vent fan running.

I made a mosquito net curtain so I could leave the trailer door open while keeping an eye on him. The nights he would sit outside and gaze at the sky I'd sit in the trailer and gaze at him wondering if he knew he was sick? Did he know he was dying? When was going to be the right time to let him go? And would I be ok once he was gone?

In the end I know I chose exactly the right time. Yesterday even though he eagerly ate breakfast and lunch he was more tired than he'd ever been before, his breathing was just barely audible in his throat at times even when he was resting. I knew that he was starting down the slippery slope where his health would fail and at some point he would truly begin to suffer. . . So I had to let him go.

Because he'd recently become so frightened of the veterinary staff I stopped by the office earlier in the afternoon and picked up an oral tranquilizer so that he's be slightly sedated when the time came. I took him for a walk at Villa Montalvo carrying him up the trail inclines and letting him walk down the descents. Then we went to the plaza in Downtown Saratoga and sat and people watched as I pet him and gave him belly rubs until it was time to give him the sedative (hidden in more hot dogs). The minutes flew by until 45 minutes later, it was time to head back to the Vet's office.

Before I moved to the passenger seat to hold him in my arms.

After a Vet Technician had inserted a catheter in his front leg I spent another twenty minutes with him in the car before I changed seats and held him on my lap as the vet gave him the final injection. His breathing stopped within seconds and I knew he was gone. His passing was quiet and peaceful. I felt I'd done all I could to ensure his death would come with the same care and concern I'd given his life.

Right now I feel utterly lost and alone. I can't believe he's really gone. It's like my little fuzzy sun has been taken away. All of the light and love he brought to my life, that he gave to me from the day I brought him home, it's all gone now replaced with tears, Kleenex, and yearning to hear the sound of his clinking collar tag, the click click click of his toenails on hard floors, his snoring in the trailer at night, and those beautiful brown eyes gazing back at me every time I looked at him.

A sad selfie the morning after.

Today the hardest parts have been the breaks from our routines. Not greeting and petting him in the morning, not feeding him breakfast, not walking around with him or seeing him hiding from the sun beneath The Glampette. I realized today how much I would chatter and talk to him as if he was a person. At times I caught myself almost saying out loud "Come on sweetie boy," but there was no little dog to follow me.

I'm sharing the sad selfie because I think a lot of us were raised to not show our sad emotions. But grieving is a natural process and letting people see or know about your grief is nothing to be ashamed of. It's part of the human condition and the sooner you allow yourself to experience your feelings the sooner healing can begin. It doesn't mean you move past it and forget about your loved one. Instead I think it means that you process it so that you ultimately find a way to accept the loss and adjust to life without them.

One thing I am certain of, and I don't have to live another day to know, is that I will never again be lucky enough to find another dog as special as Kitai. He was a once in a lifetime kind of dog. I am blessed to have had 11 years with him but will always wish we'd had more time. We needed time for one more cuddle, one more scritchy scratch under his chin, one more walk, one more chance for me to make him wag his tail, and one more chance to feel my heart fill and overflow with love just looking at him.

Rest in peace Kitai. You were the best dog ever and I will forever be grateful for having you in my life. Today I found so many things that belonged to you all over the place in the trailer, in my purse, and in the car. I will gather them all together and donate them to a local rescue so that other doggies can be helped by you. Someday in the future when I've moved and resettled I will adopt another dog from a kill shelter and his or her life will be your legacy because when you left you made room for me to save another. 

I hope you understand why I sent you away and that you arrived at your destination on angel's wings my sweet, fuzzy, little boy. I know someday we'll be together again because I'm certain our souls are connected forever and always. 

Updates on Kitai's Condition:

What was left of my heart is being put to the test - February 10, 2014

Kitai Update: Lymphoma and Prednisone - February 13, 2014

True Love: A girl and her dog - February 21, 2014

Kitai Update: Looking for signs - February 26, 2014

Kitai Update: Hanging in there - March 9, 2014

Kitai is almost out of time - March 17, 2014

A once in a lifetime dog. . . RIP Kitai - March 19, 2014

It's been four weeks since you left me - April 15, 2014

Dear Kitai, It's been a year since you left me - March 18, 2015

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