I walk in my room and I still expect to see your happy face. I reach down next to my bed at night and I still expect to pet your sleeping head. Your fur is all over my clothes and in my car. It’s like you never left. But you are not here. You crossed the rainbow far too soon. It isn’t fair. It wasn’t expected. And we are lost without you. You changed our lives in the short time you were with us and showed us what it was like to love completely, unconditionally, and with every bit of our souls. I’ve said it a million times and it has never been an exaggeration; you were the BEST dog I’ve ever had. Out of the 30 some dogs I’ve had in my 34 years of life, you were the best behaved, most affectionate, most peaceful dog I’ve had the honor to call mine. And you had the best hair!!! There will never be another dog like you, Kawaii.
Kawaii came to the VCAS Camarillo Shelter on December 21st. I saw her the moment she was on their website and knew she was something special and we had to help her. Kawaii was listed as a stray, so we had to wait until her stray hold was up to go and pull her from the shelter. She was severely matted and we knew she had some medical issues, the worst of it being a massive tumor that was hanging from her belly. It was extremely painful, but her shining spirit was never dulled by her terrible condition. Though she was still on hold until the 27th, I had the pleasure to meeting Kawaii when I was volunteering at the shelter on Christmas Day. Her tail never stopped wagging and she was begging for belly rubs every time you petted her. She was a mess, but underneath it all, you could tell she was a very pretty girl. We asked one of the vet techs there what “pretty” in Japanese was and that is how Kawaii got her name. As soon as she was ready to be picked up, my boys and I rushed over to get her and quickly welcomed her into our home. She settled in like she had been part of our family all along. The boys read her a story her very first night with us and I think storytime was always her favorite part of the day.
We immediately got Kawaii in to see our best vet who removed the mass on her belly, spayed her, and gave her teeth a good cleaning. We did an x-ray to make sure that the cancer that caused the tumor hadn’t spread anywhere and everything was clear. We got great big margins on the tumor and our vet even removed a few lymph nodes that were nearby for good measure. We were very optimistic that Kawaii would have a full and long life ahead of her after her surgery. We did a biopsy on the tumor and it came back as osteosarcoma from the mammary gland. The report said that it was locally aggressive, but with the large margins we got we weren’t expecting a reoccurence but couldn’t say for sure what would happen next. At Kawaii’s 2 week recheck, everything still looked good. No signs of cancer and we were all set for her to be adopted. Fortunately for us, Kawaii’s adoption fell through and we got to spend more time with her. She was going to be a really hard dog to give up, but I knew she would make one lucky family very happy.
Two weeks after her recheck, and while we waited for her second potential adoption, Kawaii took an unexpected turn for the worse. On Monday, January 21st, Kawaii was her normal happy self. She binge-watched some Netflix with me, watched the boys learn to ride their bike for the first time, and played with the puppies. On Tuesday, she developed goopy eyes. We called the vet and got her started on eye drops. On Wednesday, she started getting an ear infection, so we started ear drops, and was not as hungry at meal time as usual. Thursday she didn’t get up to greet me when I came in the room. She was starting to look sad but would still come over and give me kisses and sit with the boys at storytime. Friday I made the call that she wasn’t getting better with the meds so we would take her down to the vet Saturday morning. Once we got to the vet, Kawaii was still lethargic and not wanting food. We did and x-ray of her chest and found that the cancer had spread to her lungs. She was having some garbled breathing and there was nothing we could do. I took her home on Saturday so that we could make her comfortable and give her a few more wonderful days. We also needed sometime to be able to say goodbye as we hadn’t been prepared to put her down Saturday morning and I couldn’t do that to my kids. We spent the weekend giving Kawaii lots of love and attention and telling her what a special and pretty girl she was. She watched the boys master riding their bikes. She got to listen to a few more storytimes. She got to give her puppies kisses. And she got to be pampered and adored like she should have been for her whole life. On Sunday night her breathing was really labored and she couldn’t stand on her own, we knew it was time. Monday, January 28th, Kawaii got to sit peacefully in the park and enjoy one last Puppuccino. She happily lapped up the sweet whipped cream and looked so herself. She gave me a few more kisses and then looked at me like she was ready.
Saying goodbye to Kawaii was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. At only 5 years old, Kawaii’s life was cut short far too soon. We will always remember her as the silly, loving, and beautiful girl that she was. Though she was only with us for one month, Kawaii has left a lasting impression on us. She should have always been in our family instead of where ever she was before she arrived at the shelter. She should have always been loved. We are so blessed that we got to give her so much love for what life she had left. We could have never predicted the impact she would have on our hearts. We will miss her every day. Run free pretty girl. I will always love you.
My boys each wanted to remember Kawaii and here are their letters to her.
“I like riding my bike with Kawaii.” – Nicholas (Short and sweet – he’s not one for writing, but I can tell you that she was his favorite dog. He is currently sleeping with her elephant toy.)
“I liked Kawaii because she did not bark. I also liked her because when we were learning how to ride our bikes she was with us. She was funny and sweet. We did storytime with her. I loved Kawaii.” – William (He really did love her. And she loved him right back.)
We love you, Kawaii! – Liz, Greg, William, and Nicholas