Feb 26, 2018

I never knew one could love an animal so much until Kassi passed away. Such grief. I had seen friends lose pets and think “Why don’t you just get a new one?” as if they were interchangeable furballs. It is not like that. They have personalities, you get to know them, they get to know you, you love them, you lose them, it hurts.

For ten years I tended to Kassi’s daily care. She returned daily love uncomplicated by conditions.
She had several traumas when I adopted her. These faded over time but never left completely.

I did not notice Kassi’s golden eyes had slightly different colors until a friend pointed it out. She watched you continuously for clues.
She spoke with her ears, back and down for “Yes, Boss” or up and out for listening in hunting mode.
It was the brown nose that captured my heart; that and the sleek coat of this beautiful grey ghost from Germany.

Kassi loved to go jogging around the lake. On cool days, I could not keep up; on hot days, she refused to keep up, plopping down on shady grass whenever we passed a tree. She taught me to lighten up: enjoy a good workout but don’t forget to smell the roses.

Kassi loved small animals, a feeling not shared by the critters. One time, when I was not watching, she jumped into the lake, kersplash, in hot pursuit. Another time, arriving home from work, I found her standing proudly over a squirrel she had (finally) caught. Truly an intrepid hunter.

I sometimes practice mindfulness meditation where one sits gazing downward and holds attention on the breath. Kassi would come over and sit directly in front of me, her nose two inches from mine, just watching. I’m not looking right at her but, you know, there’s a large dog staring at me. What’s its problem? I will not laugh! If I burst out laughing, she slurps her tongue across my face and wins this game. No way, not gonna happen.
And … he loses it. Kassi often won this game.
She definitely practiced something though; I’ll call it Dirvana.

As Kassi aged, she developed lipoma (fatty tumors) on her underside and earned the nickname “Lumpy”.
Later she began having trouble with her hips, trouble walking, difficulty climbing stairs, incontinence.
I tried pain medications and became proficient hiding them in hot dogs.
Sometimes I was afraid. She could become disoriented, stumble about, stand shivering with claws dug into floor, would not eat for two days. I held her, tried to sooth her. Then it would pass and she just wanted her favorite piggy ear snack.

It is most difficult. Is she happy? Am I being selfish for keeping her here? The next minute I am crying and swearing I could never do that, never put her to sleep. It went like this for some weeks.
Kassi passed away March 31, 2016. She was fourteen or fifteen years old.

When I come home, where is the puppy whose entire butt wiggles for lack of proper tail?
When I finish dinner, where is the drooling beast so eager to lick my bowl clean?
Where is the unselfish friend who drags her bed next to my foot as I read, who protects me as I sleep, who remains when others desert?
My thoughts, habits, dreams and memories: this sweet grey ghost dances there.
I did not know it was possible to love an animal so much. I am so grateful Kassi spent part of her life with me. Goodbye, baby girl.

I created a playlist that most reminds me of Kassi’s gentle soul. I cannot post the media but many are available on YouTube, iTunes, and other providers.

  • Into Dust, Mazzy Star, So Tonight That I Might See
  • Re: Stacks, Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
  • Elegy, Lisa Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy, Immortal Memory
  • In The Dirt, S. Carey, All We Grow
  • Promise, Ben Howard, Every Kingdom
  • To The Evening Child, Stephan Micus, To The Evening Child
  • Never Ending Road (Amhran Duit), Loreena McKennitt, An Ancient Muse
  • Gayaneh’s Adagio, Wiener Philharmonic & Aram Khachaturian, Spartacus – Gayaneh: The Seasons
  • Soul Travel, Paul Horn, Traveler
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