Monday, March 19, 2012

In Memory of Miss Katy: Sweet, Loyal Companion for 17 Years

 Miss Katy was much more than a dog, that much is certain. While almost every dog has traits that endear them to us: loyalty, companionship, unconditional love, even courage, I have never seen a dog impact people as much as my little Katy. This little 7 lb. Papillon brought joy wherever she went, most especially into my own life.

Following the death of my parents back to back in the early 1990s, by spring of 1995, while I was still in mourning, I had reached the place where life was going on, but it was colorless and devoid of laughter. Then I got Katy and everything changed. Suddenly there was a happy little face waiting at the door for me, a tail wagging, eyes sparkling, ready to play and perform any number of funny little antics and tricks. It wasn't long before she wriggled her way into my heart and snuggled softly around it. She brought so much joy and laughter into my life.

It was also clear from the start that my Katy had separation anxiety, so she went everywhere with me. She traveled with me, went into hotels and restaurants and conventions in a big purse, or waited in my Jeep, perched on the console where she could watch for me, barking until I returned.

When I would take her for walks, people young and old alike flocked around her while she wagged her tale, smiled, and ran up to greet them. Everyone wanted to touch her and admire her big ears, her fluffy tail, her sparkling eyes, elegant nose, dainty body, and incredible happy spirit. She brought joy and laughter wherever she went.

Miss Katy was such a good sport. She put up with traveling in bags, with hotel rooms, waiting in the car, with my work schedule, with having no air conditioner one year and no heat two other years - she put up with everything to be near me, because that is where she wanted to be from the first moment she saw me until the day she died.

Katy picked me out in a pet store. I went in for rabbit food and left 4 hours later with the little dog who had followed my every move from her display window. Although I walked right on by and went for the rabbit food, the clerk saw how she was watching me and took her out. Miss Katy ran across the store to me and begged me to pick her up. I couldn't leave her. For 17 years we rarely left each other's side, and then only for a few hours except for 28 terrible hours when she was lost in New York City in 2000. After the New York incident, both of us had separation anxiety.

Miss Katy survived almost dying after we were forced into a Microtel by a flood for 9 months, fought hard to recover and to live, because she didn't want to leave me and knew I was not ready. I am convinced she stayed for me.

She lived another year, and got better and better, doing more and more of the things she used to do. What courage it took my little 16 year old dog who was nearly deaf and had issues with blindness to learn to walk in the park again. Later I learned that due to some genetic issues and old injuries, it must have hurt her for years to go on our walks... but she knew I wanted her to walk with me, so that's what she did. What a big heart she had.

A month ago, I told all my friends Katy was back to normal -- a year after she almost died. She had several months of good health including three weeks of stunningly good health when she was almost a puppy again, and then she went downhill. Less than a month after I shot this video, my beloved Miss Katy was gone.

Distracted by almost losing my Christian Activities website and the struggle to rebuild it, busy with a convention I had already paid to attend, and lulled by a vet who said my Miss Katy just had back pain and would be herself in a few days, I ignored the ways she tried to tell me something wasn't right her last week. I was busy writing more articles the day before Katy died than I had written in a long time, and called my brother up to meet me for dinner the next night, telling him Katy seemed OK, and I thought I could do a quick dinner with him.
Miss Katy's last photo
  I can barely write of the anger I feel at a vet who told me Katy seemed fine the week before, and that she just seemed to just have back issues 3 days before my Katy died; of my anger at myself for not reading Katy's signals -- so clear in hindsight; for making all the wrong decisions as she started to struggle with pneumonia which I still thought was back pain (heavy breathing is a sign of pain --  Google it like I did); and a recent financial fiasco that had me so broke I didn't think I could afford a visit to the same emergency vet who wanted to put Katy down last year when she was so sick. My anger at a god, who would let a sweet little dog drown in my arms of pneumonia -- alert and awake -- while I uselessly prayed non-stop all night long for her "back pain" and then for her healing or release when her breathing got more labored before the vet opened up, is limitless.

Suffice it to say Miss Katy suffered too long and too cruelly, and although I got her to my vet before they opened it was still too late, and her last hours were spent in an oxygen tank and getting injections of a diuretic until they took her out to give her another injection and she died -- without me nearby.

The loss of my sweet, gentle and unconditionally loving little constant companion is a hard loss to bear. But the memory of her last hours is unbearable. I wish I could honor in some big way the spirit and faithfulness of this big-hearted little dog who brought so much joy to everyone who knew her and who handled old age and illness with such courage. She stayed with me as long as she could. It wasn't nearly long enough. I will have other pets, and I will love them all, but not as much as I loved my sweet, sweet Miss Katy. She was my best friend and constant companion for 17 years. She was my family.


Miss Katy - A Little Papillon with a Big Heart

A Poem for Katy (Who Made My House a Home)

Lessons Learned from My Dog


chocoholic said...

I'm so sorry for your great loss, Kathryn, and for how difficult the time was for Katy. But you gave her so many years of great care, and perhaps if you had known God knew it would have been a frustrating and painful, yet longer battle. I hope you will be encouraged that He had it in His hands. I will miss hearing about her on facebook. May you have peace and strength in knowing that you were blessed and a blessing to and with her also.


Mary Jo

Kathryn Darden said...

I am missing my little Miss Katy today. It doesn't seem possible she's been gone a whole month, but I lost her on March 16. It seems like only yesterday I got her. She would have turned 17 this month. I really miss her.