This Valentine's day, the proverbial day of love, we're dedicating a post to "K", KB's loyal chocolate labrador who is currently battling osteosarcoma. If you haven't visited their blog yet, it can be found at http://romp-roll-rockies.blogspot.com. It is truly one of the most powerful blogs I have ever read, both for the beauty in the photographs KB posts and in the remarkable way that KB is able to so effectively convey how special her K is to her (and vice versa). If you're looking for a good example of a "heart dog," look no further.
I have, most fortunately, encountered very few tragic situations in my young life, both human and animal, and I really cannot even imagine how it must feel to deal with a chronic, long-term and serious condition such as this in an animal that is so emotionally close to you. In some ways, I'm struggling to find the words to post, because I don't know what I could possibly say to KB to lessen the burden of this nasty diagnosis on her. In the most literal sense, I've never been through it. I hope I never have to go through it because I don't think I could be even half as strong as she is.
Yet, I feel like I can't make a post about "heart animals" without mentioning my one and only Taco. My relationship with him was so magical that sometimes, five years later, it's hard to believe that he even existed in the first place. The only chronic condition he faced during my time with him was his advanced age and the ongoing thought that he may or may not make it another year. I guess it might be a bit of a stretch, but, in that respect, I understand at least a little bit the emotions that KB must be going through.
Taco exceeded my expectations, though, and I spent six great years with him when, in reality, I probably only thought I'd have a couple at most. Although the black cloud of "that time" always loomed in my head and, quite frankly, even at some points consumed my thoughts, I tried my hardest to put it aside and simply enjoy my time with him.
He and I did nothing exceptional together. I never rode him, never even got on his back. Yet it is those seemingly mundane and day-to-day experiences that made my relationship with him so great.
I hate to post something that I've already posted before, but I just want to snag a couple of paragraphs from my tribute to Taco that I wrote a couple of years ago. It completely sums up my relationship with him and I think truly brings home that "hug your pet and seize the moment" idea.
"Taco taught me so many lessons in those six years I spent with him. For one, he showed me that friends can come at the most unexpected times, in the most unexpected places. He taught me about what it meant to be motivated, to be dedicated to something that you find important. He taught me to never take for granted life's simple pleasures. At death, he showed me that even the most horrible of endings cannot take away from what was a magical, storybook friendship. I am a different person - a better person - for having known Taco. He has had a profound impact on my life.
Taco, where ever you are, I hope it goes without saying that I love you with all my heart. Thank you for everything that you did for me. It was an honor to have been by your side, an experience that I will never forget as long as I live. No matter where my life takes me, my heart will always be in the aisles of that old barn, in the middle of that green paddock, in the places where I was with you."
It was KB herself who, when I originally posted this story, said that "I think that Taco taught you important lessons that now are guiding you with Marge. You're giving similar devotion and love to her as you gave to Taco." She couldn't be more right. I see so many parallels between Taco and Marge.. the "one man's trash is another's treasure" idea, the struggle to overcome problems that, at times, seemed insurmountable, the unwavering dedication we have to each other even when things do not look so good. I have my heart horse to thank for laying the groundwork that made my relationship with my heart dog so brilliantly beautiful. He lives on in everything that I do.
KB, try your hardest to not dwell on the diagnosis K has received and think only of the days of romping and rolling with K that you have to come. Her zest for life has trumped her condition so far, and through the life and lifestyle you've given her, you have every reason to believe that that will continue for quite a long time. You are one of the strongest individuals I know, both because of the personal struggles you've been up against in your life as well as your "carpe diem" attitude as you and K go on this journey together. I know that you are giving her the best possible chance to live a long, healthy, and happy life in spite of the "C" word that changed your world a couple of months ago. She is a special dog and you are a special person - and it is so amazing and so perfect that you found each other!