The Story of Kia
As I write her story, or my version of her story, my red-headed firecracker of a pomeranian cross Kia struggles to catch her breath. Despite her stubbornness and her unwillingness to accept what is, her heart is failing and it is deteriorating daily. This morning she came close to fainting, her body collapsing, her breath gurgling, her eyes glazing. She struggles and yet, she fights, or she does one better, she lives fully and with abandon, just as she’s always done.
When Kia came into my life she was just six months old, tenacious, territorial, and, quite frankly, a bit of a shit. She had been rescued by a friend and client, and bore the marks of crate bars on her nose, which she still carries today. To say she was poorly socialized in her first six months would be an understatement, and to this day, I thank the lord she is less than twenty pounds and adorable (there’s a reason one of her nicknames is ankle biter). But, like her adopted mother Elaine, her heart was as big as the sun and her love ran deep and strong.
Elaine was a beautiful earth momma who spent her life taking care of those without a voice. When she could still drive, she filled her trunk with bird feed and drove daily to Royal Roads where she proceeded to feed the Canadian geese, ducks and swans, their ritual. Her railings were covered with feeding spots for song birds, her gardens full of deer, and her many cats were strictly indoors only. Her bedroom was filled with books on nature and crystals and the newest new age wellness gadget and angel cards, and her bed with critters of all shapes and sizes. She was my very first human client and we met at a class I was teaching on Applied Kinesiology. She fought tirelessly for the well-being of animals near and far. For over 5 years, we would spend the afternoon together every two weeks, my whippet B joining in the fray, Elaine baking me my favourite brownies and making hot herbal tea, or finding me a selection of desserts at the local bakery.
Kia came to me when she was four, a little over seven years ago now, when Elaine, in her late seventies, fell ill and weakened to the point of bed rest. She entrusted this fiery soul to me to care for as my own, acknowledging that she was no longer capable. I truly hope I have held up my end of the bargain. Elaine died, in a care facility, a number of years ago. Her death, I suppose, fuels my desire for a different type of understanding about death and dying. She lived before the days of compassionate euthanasia, instead, suffering in a hospital bed, in varying levels of extreme pain and lucidity for the last several years of her life. She, a women who revelled in nature, who resisted having a doctor and refused hospitals, who was nourished by the sound of bird songs and waves.
We would visit her regularly, Kia, B and myself, in her care home and do sessions and eat chocolate (or I would) and chat, as we always had. She was unendingly curious about my love life, which provided excellent gossip and fabulous stories, and about my work with animals and my writing. She was and is an angel in my life, and even today I feel her watch over me – she would have loved to hear what I’m up to and that I wrote a book. When she passed, it was a flicker, not fully landing until I walked until an empty hospital room and realized she was finally free from suffering. The overwhelming emotion was relief for her. And Kia, officially, was my girl.
Kia and B. Inseparable. Incredibly. You see, B was the queen and tolerated little in the way of other canines, preferring other company. But she loved Kia and they settled into a routine of sorts, Kia racing after B (and always losing), snuggling together for naps and generally egging each other on, which didn’t always work in my favour. And as her mentor, B taught Kia how to work with people, to lay with them while they heal, to provide comfort and cuteness just when it’s needed. When B passed on at the crusty age of 16, Kia helped us with laying her to rest, was low for a little, and then adjusted, as she does. When Parker the kitten came home to live not too long after, she embraced him as a momma would her cub. And most recently, when Reilly, some 100lbs bigger than her, came to live with us, she saw to it that he felt most welcome.
This big heart of hers, her joy de vivre and her most adorable ears, continue to win her admirers worldwide, even as her time here draws to a close. When I think about her favourite things, it would be in this order: first, working with my clients in my healing space, second, hiking and coming out riding, third, really awesome beef liver treats and pepperoni (of course), fourth, sleeping on the bed, and finally, men. This dog, she loves her men. Maybe they give better snuggles? I’ve never quite figured it out. But, I do know this. She is a terrible judge of male character (wonder where she got that from?) and will throw herself at any male in her club that will scratch behind her ears. In order to get in the club, you must undergo a full sniff and bark routine as well as visit at least twice. Truth is, she’s not overly stringent, especially if their are any treats involved.
Suffice it to say, my healing space won’t be remotely the same without her, my bed will feel completely weird, and I’ll even miss her call-and-response episodes with the neighbors dog (she’s always got to have the last word). She is one big heart and ironically, that big heart is breaking down and we wait for the moment that it can no longer sustain.
I love you Kia Bear. And thank you. Because of you, I know that ferocity is a strength and stubbornness will get you places, that you can have a huge open heart and scary boundaries at the same time and that you should always take every opportunity for an adventure. I promise to be the most exceptional steward I possibly can be, to trust your timing and listen deeply over the coming days, to bury you in a gorgeous sunny spot with a lake view and covered in wild flowers, to keep up this death and dying work for animals and their people, and to have better taste in men from here on out. I will miss your many shades of adorable every single day. God, I hope I got enough photos. Tomorrow I need to video your cute little butt wiggle, just a warning. I may just need that for the tough days to come.
For now, I’ll enjoy every moment, knowing that there aren’t overly many left. You Kia, on the other hand, seem set to be a firecracker right until the end. Perhaps that’s for the best. And it’s definitely fitting. A wild whole-hearted beauty until your time is through and hopefully beyond the realms of this physical experience too.
I’ll keep you all posted but I have a sense it won’t be long – till then, book a session – after all, working with you is Kia’s favourite thing…and mine to.