Recently, my family lost our beloved Kacy. It has been devastating to say the least, but I decided one of the best ways to deal with my grief and our loss was to talk about her and celebrate her life.
Kacy was not always her name. When we adopted Kacy from the Wake County Animal Center, her name was Sirius. Her description said she was a German Shepherd mix…a go getter…a sweet dog…found on Bunn Road in Zebulon between Highway 97 and Highway 39. She was tan and black with white socks on her legs and a diamond pattern on her tail. Like Aladdin, I always though she was a diamond in the “ruff”.
For the next 14 years, Kacy was our gem. She was loyal, loving and never knew a stranger. She would run up and greet other dogs at the dog park that sent our other dogs running for their lives. An Italian Mastiff…nice to meet you! A greyhound…we can see each other when you stop running. Kacy was always “bouncing” with happiness where she would jump up with her front legs while her back legs remained stationary.
She was our timekeeper…Time to go out, time for breakfast, time for dinner. God forbid we didn’t feed her and the rest of our dogs after 6 PM. Kacy would start “chomping” making this awful sound where she slapped her jaws together…or she would come up and lay her head on your lap with “the look” as if to say, “You know what this means, now get busy!”
Kacy was always my muse. She helped me get through two job transitions and helped me discover my passion for drawing cartoon dog art. If you look at many of my earlier drawings, Christmas ornaments and designs you can see Kacy or some Kacy influence such as her white socks.
Dealing with her loss has been especially hard on me. I found her lying on the living room floor on that Sunday morning. We believe she had a stroke or seizure earlier that morning. She was cold with her tongue hanging out. We noticed that her muzzle was wet…we think our other dogs had been licking her to comfort her at the end. I felt so guilty. I hoped she had not suffered. I balled my eyes out, crying from both the loss of not being able to do anything for her but also from the guilt of not being there when she needed me. Should we have done something sooner?
Coping without Kacy has been tough. I see other dogs that remind me of her. I keep telling myself, like the other great dogs in my life, I have to keep moving forward. A list of new firsts…First trip to the dog park without Kacy…First walk around the block without Kacy…First trip to the vet without Kacy. The grief process is long and likes to creep up on you when you think, “Hey, I haven’t been upset about losing Kacy this week,” and then I get ambushed by a photo on my phone or a comment at the dog park when one of the regular asks “Where’s your other dog?”
What have I learned from this whole experience? KEEP MOVING FORWARD. Celebrate the life you had but keep everything in perspective, knock out the “first” lists, and think about adopting another dog (but don’t expect that dog to be the same as the one you have lost). I like to tell people that is important you consider a rescue, senior or pound puppy. They need you and you need them. By adopting one of these dogs, you save their life and make room for one more in the adoption center / rescue process. Who knows, you may be adopting the next greatest dog in the world!
Here is a great list of articles and resources about dealing with your pet’s loss: