Sharing Your Life With an Old Dog

The story of Kyra

No more chasing balls, no more hiking. Your breath smells bad, you can’t hear, you can’t see, you have accidents in the house and you are no longer as interested in pleasing me.

Life with a young dog is much different than life with an old dog. Recently a client and very good friend of mine lost his dog Kyra.

Let me say first that someone in my field often becomes very good friends with their clients. Being involved in the clients life because of their dogs is where the friendship forms. Some friendships last the life of the dog and some longer. Which leads me to Lou and Kyra.

Kyra and Lou came to me when Kyra was about eight weeks old. She had been found two weeks earlier with a broken pelvis, radial nerve damage in her right front paw, head injuries, starvation and parasites. Everyone thought Kyra would only last a few months. Kyra, with Lou’s love, proved everyone wrong. The two shared life together for over 15 years.

When Lou first came to me for training with Kyra, I could tell right away that Lou was the kind of owner that was prepared to do whatever it took to ensure he and Kyra could live peacefully together. Lou listened to what I told him, practiced and asked questions. Soon he and Kyra were quite the team. Kyra loved to hike with Lou. They spent hours in the beautiful rocks of Sedona, AZ.

I was fortunate to be able to watch over Kyra when Lou would travel so she also became a part of my dog family. Lou traveled often and I almost felt she was part my dog as well.

When I left Sedona, Lou and I kept in touch. I followed Kyra’s life to the end. When she became very old and started having serious trouble, Lou would call me and share his frustrations and sorrows. It’s not easy owning and caring for an old dog. You are battling conflict on a daily basis.

For the last eight months of her life Kyra couldn’t get in the car anymore. Lou only left the house for short periods of time. He stayed by her side as she had always stayed by his. It wasn’t always easy, your life can change drastically when caring for an old dog. But Lou stuck it out. I remember times when Lou wondered if he was failing Kyra by considering euthanasia. I couldn’t tell Lou anything much more than Kyra is one of the luckiest dogs in the world to have an owner who loves her and has always loved her when other people said she didn’t stand a chance. I told him Kyra would let him know when it was time.

Her last day Lou had gone out to run an errand. Upon returning he found Kyra standing in the kitchen with one of her hind legs awkwardly tucked in and up towards her body. She was frozen in that position and her eyes were looking off as if into another dimension. He asked her if she wanted to go outside and she stumbled towards the door. She made it to the grass where she laid down and never got up. He knew she was ready. When the vet arrived and started to shave her leg Kyra did not flinch or even look. As the vet inserted the needle Kyra didn’t respond. She just simply closed her eyes and moved on. That was December 24, 2010. Lou and Kyra began their life together on November 4, 1995.

Living with an old dog can be difficult. But for all a dog gives us unconditionally including love, devotion and laughter, the least we can do is give them a piece of this when they need it most.

I was fortunate enough to share a part of the life of Kyra and Lou. Luckily we are able to hold on to the memories of a little red dog that touched our lives in such a big way and meant so much to us.

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