The other night I was laying on the coach and listening to Kelty cry. If you know her, then you wouldn’t be surprised by this story. As wonderful of a dog as she is, she likes to cry for attention a lot. She doesn’t ever bark (maybe 5 times in 10 years, potentially less), she doesn’t pee in the house (definitely less than 5 times in 10 years) but she does like to cry. So at first I ignored it. I ended up going to bed and since Nikki is away dog sitting other dogs, I let her sleep in the bed with me. It is kind of a habit, because if I don’t she cries until I do.
Even as she was in the bed she continued to cry. She ended up standing right over my head and crying to ensure I couldn’t sleep. I started to worry after about an hour of petting her and trying to figure out what was wrong. She was breathing funny and then I started to really get worried. At 13 to 14 years of age, I am starting to fear the worst in these moments.
I decided to go sleep on the couch, bringing her along to see if that would help. As I walked up the stairs, she followed and then I heard her tumble. I looked back and she was at the bottom. She started back up and a few steps up, she fell down again. I picked her up and carried her to the couch. We laid there as she cried. I continued to pet her and hoped it was helping at least a bit. By 2:45am, I was getting pretty tired, she was not. At some point I finally fell asleep. The next morning, I saw her fall over trying to walk. She couldn’t stand long enough to go to the bathroom and then I got really sad.
If you go back to the origin of Kelty into my life, you would have to know that it was not with a great deal of excitement. I was living in Colorado, Nikki was living in Kentucky still, but with plans to move as soon as she finished school. Then for some reason, Nikki decided to get a dog from the Humane Society. I was not only against it, I was pretty pissed off. The thought of having to find a place to rent that would allow dogs, the need to find someone to take care of her when we wanted to do anything, the general hassle… I was 100% against it.
Like many things in life, the anxiety I have about the future never came true. Kelty moved in with me, as Nikki lived with a co-worker of mine, while I had an apartment of my own. My landlord did not really say she could live there, but it worked out.
We quickly became great friends, as she loved running more than I did. We would regularly go to the Divide Park, which had a 3 mile trail loop with hundreds of acres of open field. I would run the loop and she would run – everywhere. On weekends, we would go hiking on a new trail and she would always lead the way.
After we moved back to Kentucky, we continued to run, although mostly on sidewalks and stuck to me with a lease – I imagine she’s run 100’s of miles with me. The truth is that she ran really well and you never had to worry about her pulling you in different directions. We even won the Mutt Strut together one year and were titled the fastest human / dog team in town. She really was my motivation for that race, as she pulled me for the majority of the run.
The same is not true if you take her on a walk. She is terrible to walk with, but we still do it everyday. Most days we get coffee from the Daily Grind, so she can get a treat from her friends there and two treats from her friend at the dry cleaners we pass. Her running days are over, but the morning walk is still something we both look forward to with anticipation as soon as we wake up.
I know she is getting older and that is just part of the deal. But yesterday and today have been pretty sad to see a once superior athlete struggle to walk without falling over backwards. She wants to go run so bad, but the body just isn’t working for her. I do wonder if the little show she put on last week, sprinting back and forth through the yard and around the trees for 15 to 20 minutes was just too much. Like an old and worn out athlete, trying to make one last display of greatness. Maybe she has some lessons to share with Brett Farve?
Anyway… I always learn something from her. Today on my little run, that I wasn’t all that excited to go do, I did think of her around mile 4. I thought about how much she would love to be running with me. It made me very grateful for the gift I have today. The gift of running.
I am writing this as she lays on the coach next to my feet. Crying of course!
It’s only fitting that the next post I have for my “I’m happy when..” series includes her. And it simply needs to say, I’m happy when – Kelty. I’m just happy when we do anything together, I’m so thankful for the Lexington Humane Society 10 years ago and that Nikki didn’t listen to me and my fears.