On Thursday December 8th we said "goodbye" to our beloved 12 year old retriever mix.
Writing is good therapy for me so I wanted to share some about this sweet doggy.
My senior year of college at Murray State, some good friends called to tell me there were golden retriever/ border collie mix puppies in the Wal Mart parking lot being given away by their owner. These friends knew I had grown up with a golden retriever mix and had just said goodbye to a border collie mix, so they thought I'd want a puppy. And I did. So Kyleigh (KY for Kentucky and Leigh after my best friend at the time, Annie Leigh) went to my mom's home in IL a couple of days later where she lived until I moved to Memphis 7 months later. It turns out Kyleigh was probably not part border collie, as she grew very quickly and ended up being 80 lbs! She must've been a golden retriever/black lab mix by the looks of her. She was the most beautiful dog ever.
Kyleigh and I loved spending time walking the beautiful streets of Memphis and hiking at Shelby Farms. Kyleigh loved the large dog park with ponds where she could swim and retrieve. It was so much fun taking her there and seeing how much she loved the water. We spent hours there hiking. I'd hike and pray and she'd walk ahead but never get too far from me. Kyleigh was with me through three house moves as a single gal in Memphis. Then she was with me as I got married to Ben. Kyleigh was with me through 2 kids, another house move, and then one more kid. We've been through a lot together. It's been en eventful 12 years and it's very weird that she is no longer here.
If you'd had seen Kyleigh three short years ago when she was 9, you'd have thought she was 4 or 5 years old. She still had tons of energy and exhibited no signs of being a senior dog. Then shortly after Elliot was born I found a tumor on her leg. It turned out to be cancerous and we had it removed. Shortly after this I noticed Kyleigh vomiting all the time. Eventually the vet decided a scope was needed and she was found to have inflammatory bowel disease. I tried altering her diet and feeding her several small meals a day, but the vomiting continued. She was put on steroids and had been on them up until her death. In the end the steroids took a toll on her body and she aged quickly over the last two years, especially the last 6 months. It was hard to watch. The steroids bought us some time with her that we wouldn't have had otherwise, but in the end they damaged her body.
It was such a tough decision to have to make. I knew back in August that the time was coming, and I agonized over the "right timing". Dogs age so quickly and that's difficult. In my mind she was just a healthy doggy yesterday, and then suddenly I was taking care of my aging senior dog.
We had a great last week with Kyleigh. Her birthday was on December 5th so we celebrated with a peanut butter cake from Three Dogs Bakery that she loved of course. On Tuesday we took Kyleigh swimming at PetFit rehab in Memphis where they have an indoor heated pool. She swam and retrieved and had so much fun. It did my heart so much good to be able to see her swimming one last time. This dog was made for the water and loved it more than anything! We took Kyleigh on walks and played fetch with her Kong as we usually did, and spent a lot of time laying on the floor cuddling with her and watching dog movies. She got lots of delicious food and treats her last week, and her last meal was a medium rare steak.
Our vet was wonderful and came to our home to put Kyleigh down. He spoke so kindly to Brooklyn to explain the procedure and why this was a humane kindness to Kyleigh. He sedated her while she licked up a spoonful of peanut butter and we said our goodbyes as she fell asleep. Our vet then prayed for us and Kyleigh before administering the drug. He spoke such nice words to me while it was happening to distract me from what was taking place. When I began to sob he had more kind words. It was like he had done this before. :) Brooklyn did really well, and Annalise and Elliot haven't seemed to have been affected at all, which is strange to me but they are young.
The few days after were extremely hard. But with enough people reassuring me of our decision and of how much Kyleigh knew we loved her, it has become easier. I am still extremely sad and miss her so much. It's very surreal. I keep looking out the window expecting for her to be looking back at me and she's nowhere to be seen. Walks will be so different without our Kyleigh girl with us. Going to Shelby Farms will just seem empty now without her for awhile. She was my first dog as an adult and my children's first pet.
It deserves to be known that Kyleigh was always so gentle with the kids. She never snapped at them or growled, even when she was old and sick and not feeling well. I couldn't have asked for a dog to be a better pet for my children. Her and Brooklyn had especially developed such a special bond over the last few years. It was so sweet to witness.
The house and yard seems like something is missing and it certainly is. She was a stubborn dog that we never properly trained so there were many frustrations, but the joy and love she brought us outweighed all the negative. She was so sweet and loved us so well. I hope we were decent owners and gave her a good life- I think we did the best we could. I'm sure we will get another dog one day, but no dog could replace Kyleigh or be as beautiful. She will always have a special place in our hearts, especially mine.
We love you and miss you Kyleigh girl.