My dear Kirby left me on Monday, April 18, 2022. He crossed the waters peacefully with his family surrounding him. Kirby lived to be a very, very old dog. When the leading cause of death in dogs is cancer followed by cardiac and kidney disease, this hearty big boy has simply run out of steam. His weakness was due to poly neuropathy from just getting to be a hundred years old in people years. I am incredibly sad but so grateful that he didn’t die from one of these terribly sad diseases. He beat the odds. I have been blessed.
Those of you who knew him personally, knew him to be a big, sweet, slightly naughty, and sneaky fellow, with the personality of Eeyore. Adopted from Safe Harbor Lab Rescue in 2007, he came to me already about a year or so old. He was a gangly guy with a big head and a big appetite……for everything……from the interior of a 2004 Subaru Outback to a leather sofa which he actually ate. That was a trip to the ER and a lot of vomiting to move about 1/3 of that leather from his gut. The rest came out the other end for about 2 weeks. He’s eaten literally pounds of cheese, butter, baked goods, an entire watermelon, 14 lbs. of kibble (they couldn’t put a tube down his throat because the food was literally all the way up his esophagus), and of course, he made the rounds at various soirées that I have had over the years. He was a member of the clean plate club—his and YOURS! He opened a can of dog food himself while I was at work. That can was mangled but completely emptied. His culinary escapades are legendary and far too extensive to list out here. Just trust me.
His body eventually caught up with his head, he filled out, and he was just gorgeous. He was my sweet Lucas’s best friend, bonded “brothers” and I was so worried when Lucas died that he would grieve himself to death, but he stayed with me. He knew I needed him. Kirby loved to swim and chase tennis balls. He loved going to parks and beaches and in his last two years, Connie’s ranch where he was free to walk and swim without a care.
Kirby loved my human daughter, Kelly and her human husband, Arvin. Whenever Arvin was around, Kirby would completely ignore Kelly and I. Arvin was his bro. Although my canine daughter, Maple was a relatively recent addition to the family, Kirby accepted her and came to love having her bossy little self around. He was happy to let her be the family alpha since he has never had an alpha bone in his body. When he was younger, he would put himself in time out when he felt overwhelmed by my parties and all the people, but in his older years, he came to love company and always insisted that someone give him his proper due in scratches on his big dome of a head.
Thank you to Safe Harbor Lab Rescue for rescuing him from the Jeffco “clink” and allowing me to be his guardian and “mama” for all these years. Thank you to all his veterinary caregivers over the years. Dr. Ami VanDeventer of Louisville Family Animal Hospital, who cared for him for at least 10 of those 16 years, and Dr Jeret Benson, Teri, Erin, Meaghan, and the whole Red Sage Integrative Veterinary Partners who have shepherded him through these last two years, keeping him comfortable and enjoying his senior years. Jeret promised me last Christmas with him, and he made it. She also promised to help me in my final decision, and she kept that promise. I will forever be grateful to these incredible people for their compassion and their patience with me. Thank you to Connie Fredman, who has cared for him during my many work trips and who loved him, too and who has talked me off the ledge more than once when I have been so worried about him and Miss Maple. Thank you to all of you who didn’t mind walking away from my house with yellow hairs all over you. I know that over the coming months and years, I will still be vacuuming up remnants of Kirby fur and I will cherish every single hair I find—reminders of a really wonderful friend who never let me down.
And to you, Kirby, I know you will be standing on the shore waiting for me along with all the dogs I have known and loved. I will miss you every day. I will miss your beautiful big brown eyes looking at me in the darkness of my bedroom in the middle of the night. I will miss seeing that pointy head of yours in the rear-view mirror on our car rides. I will miss seeing the joy on your face as you anticipated that I would throw the ball for you. I will miss the silly way you walked. I will miss stroking your soft fur. My companion, my buddy, my therapist, my dog. Swim out to my canoe and guide me to the shores. I promise you and Hector, Casey, Sadie, Chuck, Sophie, Maddie, Lucas, and Monty that I will care for you all again one day. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being you and for being my dog.