My daughter Jess and I were about to start a family in a new town in the end of her Sophmore year of HS. We moved in with my wife before we were married and the changes were tough on all of us. We were happy about becoming a new family, but I felt like something was missing. I was convinced we needed a dog to complete our family. My wife Nancy had only been a cat person and was worried about getting a dog with her older cat Jon B. used to being the only critter in our home. We had dogs previously and missed them so much when we moved as we had to leave them with my ex for companionship. So we set out looking for a little pooper on the condition she was going to be friendly and get along with Jon. |
In the meantime, Kira was found walking the streets in a rough neighborhood eating garbage with paint on her ear. We called the local dog kennel/pound and asked if they had any small dogs available. They did so we went to meet her. She was a chihuahua/pug mix and literally had the body and fawn color of a pug with a chihuahua head on top, so we called her our "Chug" ...lol. They had her in the staff kitchen because she was so much smaller than the other dogs and that was just fine with her as they were feeding her Cheez-Its. Food was always Kira's first love. We walked by the 100 or so very large dogs in the cages on our way to meet her in back and my wife Nancy was crying all the way through because she had never been in a kennel before. She wanted to take home ALL the dogs! We were handed Kira and I looked at Nancy for approval and she said, "Yes" and "Get me outta here" in one look! It was Saturday and we found out when we signed all the paperwork that she was on the list to be put down on Monday :o( ...but fate led her to us just in time :o). Her age was guesstimated to be 4, so the day she came home was to be her 4th birthday.
Kira was great with Jon, but soon after she got home she became very sick. She ended up having such a bad case of Kennel Cough that she had to go through 3 courses of anti-biotics. She came home in October, got sick in November and finally got well in January. Just in time for me to get the Flu! She must've realized how well I took care of her because the whole time I was sick she slept right by my side... and sometimes right on top of me until I was well again. Those months turned out to be our bonding time.
After all that I decided to teach her some tricks. I realized I had a very smart dog on my hands when I taught her "Gimme your paw" and "Gimme a kiss" in a few short tries. After that she learned to say, "I love you" and when Jess graduated from HS we had a gathering at the house and she said it in front of everyone... and on camera!! She even played with us right up to a couple of weeks before she passed with her mini beach ball. If we tossed it to her, she would hit it with her nose right back into our hands! That trick was learned later in life by accident, so I know for a fact that you can teach an old dog new tricks...lol.
We thought that she was a little bit lonely so we got Cheyenne for her to play with and so she would have a companion when we weren't home. She would go absolutely crazy when went out, so we put treats into a ball and snuck out a different door so we wouldn't upset her. This only went on for a little while until she felt better with her new sister Cheyenne nearby. Over the years we went on vacations together to Cape Cod and she had these silly little quirks about getting dirty. We'd go to the beach and Kira would reluctantly walk on the sand and bypass the water while Cheyenne did a happy puppy dance in and out of the water. She was also very upset whenever we took her somewhere in the car. It made me think she was dropped off and left to fend for herself and why she became homeless, so we didn't like to take her out too often. If we had to take her to the Vet it was only 5 minutes away and we'd always stop for McDonald's on the way home and share a plain cheeseburger with her.
Down the road we decided to rescue Ollie our Min Pin and the two of them did not get along at first because Ollie came in and said, "I'm here and I'm in charge bitches"! Kira looked at her and said, "yeah right". Their friendship came later on when I think they both finally gave up and decided that they could share their duties as "Queens of the House" because it wasn't worth the aggravation any more.
She got Cushing's Disease from too much Cortisol in her system, so she was on Chemo to take care of that when her Vet realized she no longer had it and it turned into Addison's Disease, which is not enough Cortisol. She always seemed to be taking meds for something. You wouldn't know she was sick though. She followed me outside every time I was going to go pick something in our garden. She loved fresh picked fruits and vegetables especially cherry tomatoes, blueberries and raspberries. I never gave her too much because I know if she figured out how to pick those things there would be nothing left for us!
Ollie passed away in July 2010 from her cancer and I know it upset her. She perked up when we rescued the 2 new (Mother/Daughter) Min Pins and she even played a little bit with Niddy (the Mother), which was all we wanted for her all along.
This last year was tough. She was up and down with the meds for the Addison's Disease and put on a steroid that I had to adjust as I thought she needed it. We brought her in for her yearly check-up and we told the Doctor about what we thought was plaque build up on her gums and her breath was bad. He thought the same and we scheduled a dental visit. As soon as he got her into the office, before sedation he noticed her breath was worse than her last visit, but to an extreme. He gave her a light sedative so he could do a biopsy. It was an aggressive form of cancer in an inoperable area. We were referred to a new part of the hospital and met the new oncologist. We were told ahead of time that there was a new vaccination that could buy her 3 months, but she would have to travel an hour and a half by car. I never heard another word she said about that because I knew I wasn't going to put her in the car 3x a week for that amout of time because to me that would affect her quality of life. My wife agreed. Our second choice was radiation, but the same problem... a long car ride more than 2x a week. What I didn't hear this woman say was that without treatment she was only expected to have 2 weeks to live...3 tops! I'm so glad I didn't hear it because I never felt she had to be handled like she was going to break, so I treated her as always, just with all the extra good stuff. We knew what would up the quality of life for her. Special treats because food was the best thing in the world to her. We went to a pet store and loaded up on soft treats because her mouth was sore. We got frozen peanut butter/banana yogurt and extra lunchmeat and cheese. She was now allowed to sleep in our bed and we made sure there was extra playtime. A few days afterwards Kira started to snore and then it seemed to get worse, as though the mass was pushing down on her sinus cavity. She was still eating, but when I had to carry her out to go potty I knew that it was time. Even though I second guessed myself for most of the day after she drifted off to sleep and I could see her chasing Ollie and feeling her happiness and how freeing it was for her. I knew if we had waited through the weekend it would've been awful for her. Our daughter Jess came to spend time with her on her last night when I called her to tell her it was time and she stayed with us at the Vet today. It made me look back at Kira's life all the more while she was there because when we got Kira, as I said in the beginnig of this story, Jess was in her Sophmore year of HS and now she has a great career, a wonderful husband and her own home... and here she is standing by her "Shaggy" (her nickname for Kira) after 12 years of loving her. The first thing we did as a family was to adopt Kira and as hard as it was to watch her fall asleep forever it was a reminder that love is a powerful bond and life has come full circle again.
As far as the oncologist goes, we think she had other motives for wanting to send Kira to her Alma-Mater (for recognition and/or stats)for the vaccine or radiation. The day Kira passed a friend of the family whose dog did go for the radiation went to sleep that night and never woke up. With Kira being 16 it could've been worse! This dog was younger!
My wife says, "We don't really know what they're thinking and feeling, so we don't really know what the right thing to do is. In our case I think we did right by her ...let me rephrase that. I KNOW we did right by her and in return we got to share our lives with one of the smartest and most loving dogs we've ever known!! The memories, pics and video we have of our lives with her will be cherished until we the day we come to the Bridge to get her on our way to Heaven. Thank you for loving us so deeply, making us laugh so much and being part of our family for so long Kira! You were truly and will always be known as "Our Best Girl" (I finally finished her story today, October 28, 2015. It hurt so much every time I was here it took me 4 years to finish).
We miss you terribly and will love you always and forever, Kira! 😭😭 ❌⭕️❌⭕️❤️⭕️❌⭕️❌
Please also visit Ollie Tozzo.