April 21, 2011

Letting Her Lead

The other day, my friend Tamara tweeted a touching little story that I was lucky enough to catch:

"Saw something special on my way to work this am...an elderly golden retriever walking with her mom. Mom was very patient with her slow walk. I thought now that is a lovely relationship. :o)"

The vignette made me smile and stayed with me. My friend's words inspired me to share a very important part of this journey I'd always meant to write about.

Two peas, a long time ago when we were both pups.

Kiva was 11 years old when I made the decision to raise a service puppy. I had debated for months about bringing a new dog into my one-senior-dog household. Kiva is tolerant, very well socialized, and she's met hundreds of other dogs in her lifetime without issue, but she had never shared her home with anyone. I wanted very much to be a service puppy raiser, but I worried if my gentle oldster could accept a toddler superball bouncing all over her space. If they did bond, would Kiva have trouble with the loss when it was time for the puppy to move on? Would she feel threatened or jealous of all the attention I'd need to devote to training a service puppy? Was I asking too much of my precious girl?

I worried constantly in the weeks leading up to the puppy’s arrival. I should have known that I didn’t have to. As soon as our service puppy, Ruby, arrived, Kiva accepted the puppy without reservation, scattering my shadowy doubts to the breeze like dandelions. She always turns my worries into wishes and makes them all come true.

Kiva nurtured Ruby, guiding with her gentle nature and the experience of age. She imparted a calmness into the puppy that only a dog can convey to another. Kiva’s invaluable lessons will serve Ruby well as she becomes a service dog whose actions are careful and deliberate. And, throughout that year and a half, Kiva gave me as many gifts as she gave Ruby. She accepted Ruby with a level of patience I can only ever try to live up to. She let me delight in the whole experience, enjoying it with me. And the morning after Ruby left us to move on to advanced training, Kiva glanced around the bedroom for a moment or two...then flipped a toy in the air and never questioned me.

These days, at nearly 13 years old, Kiva needs me to walk a little more slowly with her, too. But no matter how long it takes her to get me there, she still always leads me where I need to go.


Bessie Mac said...

What a touching story. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

You got me all teary-eyed :)


Ruby's Raiser said...

Anon - As did I when I read your tweet! :)

1000 Goldens said...

Kiva, you have a heart of gold, just like your human Mom. I love the picture of you and Roo on the steps, like a couple of old friends!

I got your note and sure home the Rimadyl starts working better for you. The Deramaxx is working good for me. I was on a full pill for a week, now they reduced me to a 1/2 pill.

Love you Kiva...

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, sweet girl. Lovely story.

The Thundering Herd said...

Some of my greatest memories of Nikita are in her senior years when we just took time - because that is what she wanted. Those are the most poignant memories I have of her.

Lisa, Ellie and Hosta said...

THat is such a beautiful post and such a sweet tribute to a loyal friend!

Anonymous said...

We loved your post. Our hearts filled up. We love our Kiva and all the joy she brings.

Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

How do they know?

Because they are the better species!

Thanks for sharing this one!


melF said...

Oh I love your blog post! What a beautiful tribute - it made me all teary too.
Ruby looks like a younger version of a dog client of mine named Ella. It was so cool to see what Ella might have looked like as a youngster. She's 10 now and moves more slowly too.

Kiva - you are a gem! I am a huge lover of senior dog and your mom's story of you and Ruby warmed my heart. Belly rubs!