A little over 11 years ago I first met a sweet, quiet dog at the animal hospital I was working at. I loved her right away, she just wanted a kind word and a gentle pet but her owners mostly just ignored her except for her yearly vaccine visit which they merged with her yearly allergy flare up treatments. For 5 years she would come in once a year and slowly her story came out to us; the kids had found her wandering the streets and they convinced the parents to keep her. Only the kids were teens and never had a pet so they pretty much ignored her and the parents didn’t want a dog to begin with. They thought she was stupid and untrainable, she had poor house manners and would raid counters, garbage and the cat’s litter box at any opportunity. Six and half years ago, when the kids went off to college and the housing market collapsed right as her owners were trying to sell their house they decided it was time to euthanize her.
The vet refused to euthanize for the paper-thin reason we were given, being that she was pooping in their basement and that was why their house wasn’t selling. They refused to understand it was their fault she wasn’t house trained since they left her outside all day and only brought in her inside to keep her in the dirt-floored basement. According to them at 10-ish years old she was too old and no shelter would take her in so if our hospital wouldn’t euthanize her they would just find some one who would. None of us could stand the thought of this sweet dog with so many years ahead of her being put down because these people were assholes. I had them sign her over to me and took her home that night, after I had given her 3 baths to get all the dirt off her. (As it turns out keeping her bathed fixed all of her allergy problems, fancy that.)
She took to being a real house dog within a bout a week. She learned sit, come here, play dead and dance in about two weeks. She learned which cats would tolerate her and which ones wanted nothing to do with her. She climbed on my kitchen table, raided my garbage cans, pulled dishes out of the sink and stole anything food like that was left unattended for over 0.25 seconds.
I learned that she was afraid to play with toys and wouldn’t touch them, she expect to be ignored all the time, she would eat until she was sick and then eat some more. She was gentle, sweet, goofy and delightful. She was also house trained.
I also discovered she loved cats, despite my cats dislike and general apathy towards her. Give her a kitten and she would cuddle right up to them, groom them, play with them. Even more than humans or dogs, she loved cats.
Over the years she helped me foster many kittens, including ones that had been pulled out of dumpsters.
Kittens that had been dumped on the side of the highway used her as a jungle gym.
Eventually I realized that I wasn’t imaging her googly eye, at some point she suffered some kind of injury or stroke and facial nerve damage that only made her cuter.
We shared six and half years with each other. As often as possible where I went she went. She traveled to Detroit for an urbex trip with me, she made friends with every person she ever met and loved a good cookout. While her allergies never came back I discovered she had some GI issues that were manageable, but over the years they worsened even as her veterinarians were unable to diagnose her. Seven months ago she was diagnosed with kidney failure, her spinal arthritis was worsening and her liver continued to shrink.
Kiska was my friend, my favorite annoyance, the best Big Sister a foster kitten could ask for and the last dog I will ever share my home with. I miss her terribly but am grateful for the time we had together. I am happy that her final years were with me, that she got to sleep on the couch and go for walks every day.
This Monday I said goodbye to her one last time.
If you are looking to get a dog, please consider adopting an older dog and giving them the life they should have had from the start.