A Tribute to My Friend Kinsey
July 15, 2008
Before you start to read this, please do yourself a favor and get some Kleenex or better yet a bucket and a sponge cause you will need it.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 was a very sad day for me, my family and for all the rest of you who knew her. My beautiful golden retriever Kinsey died Wednesday night in my husband’s and my arms at home. It is the way it should be, but it is not easy. The loss is almost unbearable for me as she was such a crucial part of my life, my every day existence for the last 12 years, 9 months and 2 days.
My sadness deepens as I think of all the people affected by her. I have received so many e-mails and calls since Wednesday night from all over the country expressing thoughts and prayers for her and her family. I am touched by their reactions, a man in Chicago O’Hare airport who received the message and had to go to the men’s room to compose himself, a woman in Florida who wept in her office, an officer in Maryland who told his dispatcher to hold calls for awhile so he could quietly cry, and others who are saddened by the loss and missing her already. I am surprised by the people whom I don’t even know who have called Kinsco expressing their condolences.
She was a remarkable person disguised in a dog suit who touched and graced our lives with intelligence, humor and an uncanny ability to know who needed her the most and when. She loved and was loved and will always be remembered by so many, some of whom I don’t even know.
I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a bit about the many faces of Kinsey. Her tale is long with much happiness and joy throughout her 12 years. She never ceased to amaze me at her personality, abilities and talents, coupled with humor, total disregard for what’s dignified and absolutely perfect behavior. She was welcomed everywhere…even places they didn’t allow dogs. She was special and she knew it.
I learned early on that I was only her driver and was truly needed because I could physically open doors, open food bags and could open the window for her at drive up windows. She opened the rest of the doors in my life and gave me the courage and conviction to go through those doors. We discussed it regularly, she and I, and she pointed out routinely that perhaps that I wasn’t the brightest person in the world, but that she would keep me. My life was enriched and enchanted by her presence as were many other people especially those in her inner circle (you know who you are).
I first met Kinsey when she was several days old and neither one of us knew she was destined for greatness. Her puppyhood was filled with too many stuffed toys, but the prominent ones were Mr. Bunny who is still with us and 2 Humpty Dumptys, 1 normal, 1 handicapped and missing a leg due to a tragic chewing accident. She knew the names of all her toys and carried them everywhere. She discovered frisbee one day and never gave it up. Balls were for other dogs…frisbee was her game and she would play long past exhaustion if allowed. She always got to play frisbee after I mowed the lawn, and discovered that after my neighbor Jim mowed his lawn, she could play over there, too. She learned to get the newspaper on about the second try and became incensed when the newspaper was delivered to the box at the top of our subdivision instead of our driveway. We fixed that quickly.
She was a tough puppy and yes, we did have to replace some sheetrock that she ate and some wood moldings. Small price to pay. As a true retriever from field trial and hunting stock she carried everything not nailed down and I found she was quite happy to carry things such as ceramic bowls, keys, eyeglasses and buckets. She always insisted in carrying her own bag when we traveled which impressed most people.
There was nothing slow about Kinsey. She did everything fast…she learned fast, made friends fast, responded fast, ate fast, and even ran fast in her sleep. She lived in the fast lane and kept me running with her.
She had a sense of humor unlike any other dog I have ever had and she had a look that told you “You’ve just been had!” She had reasoning and logic unlike most dogs and seemed to be able to use them to her advantage which just made you smile when you realized what she had done. She had impeccable manners and was welcomed almost everywhere. From the dentist’s office where she sat in a chair by the window watching the prairie dog movie to hotels, hospitals , stores and banks where she carried in the checkbook and stood in line waiting for the teller, she was welcomed and expected. I became accustomed to being greeted by people with “Where’s Kinsey?” Now, I smile when asked that, but I have the painful job of telling those who ask for her, that she has died.
The pain of losing a friend like Kinsey is worth every minute, because I am reminded of how much she enriched my life as well the lives of many others. To think ,for a moment of not ever having had the time with her is more painful than losing her. There were ones before her and there will be ones after her, all unique, yet all have some of the same features. I will endure the loss again and again because the joy of the companionship far outweighs the eventual loss. The pawprints on my heart are like merit badges and battle scars, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.
My good friend Sophie sent me a quote from People I sleep With by Suzanne Clothier and I believe she says it best .
“There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through its turnings and walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive; our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.”
So to all of you who met her, to those who knew her well, and to her inner circle people, remember the joy she brought and keep her memory in your hearts. She taught many of you and she gave each and every one of you something special…a part of her. She was special and you were special to her. I thank you for being one of her people and she would say “Thank you for being my friend”. As for me, I will continue her work with the new generation…a child named “Kelsey” and I only hope Kinsey will wait for me with the others at the Rainbow Bridge.
Nan M. Stuart