Katy is the first animal I ever "rescued." She's the first dog I brought home and said, "This is it. She lives here now. Deal with it." If Katy never learned much beyond "sit" and "pee outside," it's because she never needed to. Her heart has carried her where her education did not. Katy's happiness has never failed to make her family feel loved. Her joy has never failed to make her new friends. Perhaps Katy is smarter than I give her credit for.
They say that there are three days in your dog's life that you will always remember: the day you brought them home, the day you realized they would die, and the day they left you. In the last few weeks, I have come to realize that Katy is not long for this world. She may have years, but sooner than I would care to believe, her small but significant presence will be gone from my life.
Katy is the last of my Before Dogs. She was there for me before my marriage. Before college and car payment and a steady job. Before my mortgage. Before it even crossed my mind to refer to myself as an "adult." When my heart dog died, it was Katy's fluffy head that caught my tears. And because she has been there for all of this, it is hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that she may not be there for the Next Big Thing.
So I will take a page from Katy's book. I will try to set aside my own selfishness and just be there for my friend as she enters this next stage in her life. I know I cannot give her everything, but I will give her all that I can. And I will know that in the end, though we be far apart, I am as precious to her as she is to me.
Photo by Paige
“It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
- Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit