I was driving to work yesterday when for no good reason the memory of this beautiful creature, and in particular, this photo, came to mind. It was strange because this dog has been gone for over 20 years. But yesterday the image of his sweet face and soulful eyes were sharp and clear in my mind. Then today, I read that the theme for ThrowBack Thursday Memory Blog Hop was “The Pets in My Life”. It felt like a sign.
His name was Kina and he came into my life shortly after I was married. We wanted a dog and I had my heart set on a Husky or a Malamute. It must have been fate when we saw an ad in the newspaper for a young Malamute. The lady was giving him away to someone who could offer him a good home. She bought him from a pet shop because even though he was still young, he was almost fully grown and crammed into a small cage all day. She felt sorry for him so she bought him but she couldn’t keep him. At least that what’s she told us and it was good enough for us. We went to collect him a few days later.
It wasn’t a bowl of cherries. He wasn’t house trained and he did not care for being left alone, even for short periods. Like a child having a tantrum, he made his displeasure clear. He gnawed wooden door frames, pulled sheets completely off the bed and left little “gifts” for us in unexpected places. But he was so adorable! He still sat crookedly on one haunch like a puppy who hadn’t quite adjusted to his growing body. One ear flopped over charmingly and his cold, wet nose was black as night. His markings were striking and his eyes were like deep pools of liquid chocolate.
With time, Kina grew into a wise, gentle soul. At the cottage where he could roam free, we always knew when a thunder storm was coming. He scratched frantically at the screen door until we let him in, and then cowered in the corner until the storm was over.
When I became pregnant with my son a few years later, warnings came from well-meaning family. Kina might be jealous and harm the baby. Maybe we should consider parting with him. But that wasn’t part of our plan. We would be cautious but unless he gave us reason to change our minds, he was staying.
If anything, the poor dog was the neglected one as our attention was thrown into caring for a small, screaming newborn. It was probably payback when one morning I found Erik, who was about a year old at the time, standing in his crib calling for “Dia” (his way of pronouncing Kina’s name) instead of “Mama”.
When Erik was almost three, my husband and I separated. I wanted to keep Kina and I tried to juggle it all for a few months. But being a single parent of a toddler and working full-time was hard. Squeezing in two long walks a day for a big dog that needed them was impossible. I was heartbroken, but the situation wasn’t fair to Kina. I knew my husband loved him as much as I did, so I was glad when he offered to take him.
Kina had a good, long life but, as often happens, when older animals are in pain and their quality of life suffers, it’s time to say good-bye. Erik’s Dad called to tell me first so I could prepare our son. My heart broke when I realized that this beautiful dog who gave us so much joy would no longer walk the earth. Love you and miss you still, big boy.