It's funny how even if you tell yourself that you are past something, that you have come to terms with the loss and remember all the good times how it still can drag you down to tears to think about those you have lost.
The reason I love german shepherds and the white ones in particular I owe to my first dog, the dog I got to rescue after three long years of blood, sweat and tears volunteering at our local humane society. The day we were there looking for a dog, we were supposed to be looking for my brother, since I was starting my senior year of high school and was planning on going upstate for college if not out of state. But when I was walking through those kennels I knew so well and saw the small ball of white fur with giant ears, that was it. Her little paws went up onto the wire and I was down on my knees with my hands pressed to the other side. It was love at first sight. I knew without doubt she was meant to be.
She was so smart. I made all kinds of terrible first time owner mistakes with her. I didn't socialize her well with other dogs at all, and even with people at times she wasn't exactly on her best behavior. She was not outright aggressive toward people, but when we had company over and they moved from having been seated, she had something to say about it. However we never worried with her with kids. Even with bilateral hip dysplasia (which I knew we'd be facing when she was only two months old), they could push her, lean against her. I even saw one boy decide to hug her had hand off of her neck. She never once did anything other than turn with a smile and a kiss.
She was always at my side, no matter the challenge. She learned that going off trail when hiking could be dangerous (she caught her shoulder on a hidden rock chasing my friend's shortador), but if there was ever a part that could be dangerous for me, she was right at my side. She hated water but if I was crossing a stream, she was there, her beautiful eyes always watching. She stood between me and whatever she perceived as a threat the world had to offer.
I still remember when I'd come home during breaks from college. The happy dance I was greeted with when I came home. The kisses. She always slept so that she knew where everyone in the house was, but first thing in the morning, if she could not get in to check on me, she would bug my mother until let into my room so she knew I was okay. If she heard my voice, no other person mattered. There was something so special about her, even with the things that weren't nearly what you'd consider a good dog.
We battled bouts of diarrhea constantly. She was misdiagnosed with EPI when it was later discovered to be IBS. I got one of her hips replaced when she was 8 years old, but before that she went into acute kidney disease with just three doses of Deramaxx. The potential to lose her was something that hit me so hard. I always knew losing her would be hard. Just never saw a potential til her kidneys showed damage. Thankfully because of the wonderful people who I work for, she recovered and after her hip was replaced it was like she had life anew again.
For the first time in her life, she had 3 legs to stand on.
I learned so much from her. To this day, I will always look for traits about her that I loved. Her loyalty, her heart, her spirit, her willingness to give it her all. How she trusted me every step of the way. For three months before it was finally too much to ignore, she fought for me. While her kidneys were giving out and we struggled to figure out what was happening, her few visits to my work. Everyone who knew her loved her. The day I decided to let her go was a day I will never forget. My wonderful co-workers who were there for me, my friend who came back after clocking out to help me with her and take care of her for me afterward. The vet whom I trusted the most was the one to ease her pain.
I fell over her, I couldn't stop crying. And I couldn't even stand up until after they came to take her away. Part of me followed her that day, leaving a huge hole in my heart. Knowing how badly losing her was going to hit me, I had gotten a puppy a year almost before I lost her. That night when I came home, numb and empty, clutching her collar tight, it was the night my relationship with my golden changed. Myles plastered himself to my side and has been my emotional support since then. Our partnership turned into something I'd never imagined when I brought that small golden bundle home.
Six months after losing her, I had an urge to make a video. To put something together to commemorate our time together. How one little ball of white fur with giant ears could change me so much and leave such a mark in my heart.
It was not long after that, I found out about Surefire Shepherds up in Washington, and got my second white shepherd Leia. She looks nothing like Kenai, but she has many traits about my big moosey girl that I'd always loved. And the joy I get from seeing her run and move so effortlessly used to nearly bring me to tears. Where Kenai was weak, Leia is so very strong. I learned so much from Kenai, so much that helped me with the dogs I have now.
I have a small pawprint urn charm that I wear every day with a small amount of her ashes in it. I always have to have her with me. She sits on my dresser with her collar, pawprint and a small crocheted white shepherd a dear friend made for me. Her urn was decorated with her hair, the black marks dashed around it where her fur was used in making it.
Not fully sure why I've felt the need to post this up. Last year was a terrible year. My grandmother, who has always been an inspiration and support, was lost to us just after Christmas 2012. Three months after that, the darker colored golden you see in some of the pictures on the video, my father/brother's dog Grizzly, passed away despite the excellent care he received from my amazing co-workers due to hemangiosarcoma. I lost two friends, one to suicide and one likely to ODing on something. So much death in a year, no time really to recover from blow after blow. I think somewhere in all of it it made me remember how not over losing my girl I am. Part of me tears up still thinking of her. I still expect to see her when I go visit my parents, only to find a house so devoid of life, if I didn't have Myles with me I don't think I could take it.
Eleven wonderful years was not enough. Nor would a hundred have been either. Kenai was one of a kind. Nothing can ever replace her. <3