We still miss you, Kylie…
everyday, all the time. You were the best part of our lives, the best part of ourselves; you are loved always!
We still miss you, Kylie…
everyday, all the time. You were the best part of our lives, the best part of ourselves; you are loved always!
Eight years later we still miss Kylie every day. We’ve learned that grief doesn’t pass it doesn’t even fade, it becomes part of you, and at the same time it takes parts of you that don’t come back, and you grieve for that too. There is no “moving on”, it’s just that life keeps going on and pulling you with it, like you’re in a river without a raft so you just have to keep your head above water and hope the current at least slows down for a while sometimes.
Four months after loosing Kylie, Isabella came to live with us. It was too soon. But there she was on petfinder.com, in South Carolina of all places (long story). She had been pulled out of a high-kill shelter and put in foster care over a year earlier by a wonderful rescue group called the Heartworm Project who thought she was probably about nine-ish. And even though she only caught our attention because one of the three photos of her looked strikingly like Kylie, which is probably not a healthy reason, it was not too soon for her to have a forever home.
Yet we had hesitated, then totally backed out, before one of us decided to get on a plane on memorial day weekend to go meet the dog who was quickly dubbed by friends as Hillbillie Kylie, or HBK for short. With a pronounced limp and a jacked-up grill and cologne by R.J. Reynolds, I decided pretty early into our first date that we should try and give her a better life for whatever life she had left. Because even though she was purportedly as much as seven years younger than Kylie, she could have passed for Kylie’s older, less sophisticated cousin from down south. Despite the resemblance to Kylie who was obviously mostly Jack Russell, it was very hard to even speculate what breeds Isabella was. With her tiny head and big tail, her big chest and tiny waist, we said they should have named her Dolly (as in Parton). It was the rescue that had named her Isabella, but it became apparent quickly that name was a little too… high falutin’ for her, so we just called her Izzy, and we decided she was made up of spare parts! And when it was required on official forms to narrow it down to a couple breeds, we settled on Beagle/Corgi.
She was meek at first but willing to be affectionate, unfortunately we weren’t just yet so we discouraged it, which made her kisses become increasingly rare – so when you got one it was special! Then that meekness faded away too, by the way. Izzy is so different from Kylie that soon we saw no resemblance whatsoever between the two, and slowly but surely Izzy carved out her own space in our lives, in our hearts, and in our family.
She was nuts!! A total weirdo but in a totally different way than Kylie’s nutty weirdness. Izzy is funny, but whereas Kylie was the class clown who loved to make us laugh, she did not like it if we were laughing at her rather than with her. Izzy on the other hand was accidentally, unintentionally funny and while sometimes she definitely seemed to know it, she could truly not care less if you were amused by her or not. Izzy loved us, no doubt, but she was very comfortable being herself and letting you know when you being yourself was not pleasing her. She went from being an opinionated but polite southern belle, to a totally empowered, if not a little mouthy, feminist with a strong sense of agency. And we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Izzy had more than strength of character, she was tough as nails! She had so many physical issues that I won’t list here because they did not define her, but more than one of her care-givers called her a medical marvel! She would bounce back from even major procedures like nothing had happened, usually within 24 hours, it was nothing less than amazing. She would roll with the punches and pick up speed! Of course sometimes that was to her detriment which gained her another nickname – Suicide Sally – she had no fear!
She also had no love for other dogs, something she did have in common with Kylie. Our plan had been to eventually get two dogs, so they could be friends and playmates and we could just be their parents. We weren’t looking for that powerful bond again like we had with Kylie; she was our best friend and our whole life, and loosing her was devastating. This time we wanted to have dogs in our lives and care for them, but try to lessen the impact when they leave us (stupid humans). So we made sure to make sure that Izzy got along with other dogs. Her foster mom said she did great, so we told Izzy from the beginning she could be an only child for a year but then we would be looking for a sister for her. However, on the very day that I signed her adoption papers in a vet’s office, Izzy was growling and snarling at any dog that came in her line of sight. It seemed odd but, well maybe she just gets nervous at the vet. But nope. She proceeded to be nasty to any dog she encountered, and about a year later when we introduced her to her newly adopted, adorable little sister, Leeloo, she was not amused. [As a side note, there were some other issues with Leeloo and we felt terribly guilty that we couldn’t make it work. But we did find her a wonderful forever home with a sister who enthusiastically welcomed her into the family.] So Izzy got to be an only child after all! Eventually she did make a few frien-emies with dogs that belonged to our friends so she was willing to tolerate them. But almost without fail Izzy at some point, peed in all their houses (even though she never peed in ours), and typically took over their beds. Or, in the case of Roxie, a boxer mix who was three times her size at least, when we went to see her new house, Izzy got up on Roxie’s bed and just took a dump – in front of everybody!! This was definitely one of her more embarassing habits yet somehow still oddly endearing.
Something she did NOT share with Kylie was a love of snow. Kylie reveled in the winter wonderland whenever she found a blanket of snow on the ground. Izzy just took to the couch, disgruntled, and waited for it to pass. She was also not the sophisticated, seasoned traveler that Kylie was, but she did take a couple short road trips, and was happy to ride along to run some errands. She was just generally content to be at home with us, in fact she was just generally content, and a happy little dog despite her shortcomings, including her shortness. Although when one girl was working most week days an hour away from home, Izzy became quite accustomed to four-star accommodations in the dog-friendly hotel, where she got complimentary breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausage, chauffer service in her stroller, and her own ‘hotel bed’. She was still a little bit country though, so she liked going to the county fair at the grounds next to the fancy hotel, it was like the best of both worlds! And eventually, Izzy became the biggest and best part of our new, post-Kylie world. She made it a manageable place to live and laugh and even love again.
Once we were on one of our notorious road trips with Kylie, and we were pulling up to our hotel for the evening – which would have been a Motel 6 or Super 8 since not many hotels allowed dogs back then. As we were parking a man who had just stepped out of one of the rooms was staring at us, and looking at us very strangely, which is not a good feeling in that scenario. But as we came to a stop he stepped back in his room and came back out a few seconds later holding his dog.. which looked exactly like Kylie! Well, except that his dog was a greyhound! (This explained the staring and the strange look.. he had seen Kylie in the car and noticed she looked like his dog.) We all laughed about how amazingly similar their coats and markings were even though they were totally different in shape & size.
Another time we were at a fund-raising event for a local animal shelter and saw a couple carrying Kylie’s ‘mini me’. So of course it was totally adorable! We stopped and talked to them as well, it was like the greyhound situation but this time Kylie was the big dog!
Too bad we didn’t take pictures of these other dogs, but it doesn’t matter… because there may be other dogs that look like Kylie either a little of a lot (including the one who lives with us now) but there was only ever ONE Kylie!
There never will be anyone, canine or human or otherwise, as amazing and fabulous and fun and beautiful as our Kylie! She was like a unicorn or an alien, but cuter than either or both, and the world is less without her, as are we.
It’s a sad day. It seems incomprehensible that Kylie has been gone, from the planet but not from our hearts, for seven years. There’s never a day when we don’t think of her and miss her and her beautiful silliness.
For example, we were just talking about how we would be lounging in the living room and Kylie would go out her doggie door and come right back in, then go right back out and come right back in, over and over.. Until somebody would ask “Kylie, what are you doing?” She would respond with a look trying to convey that something very important was happening, and we should come and check it out. Not quite the “Timmy fell down a well” look, but there was definitely a sense of urgency.
After just a few minutes of this excitement one of us girls (aka, suckers) would get up to go see what was going on outside, but as soon as you took a step in her direction, Kylie would bolt to the Cookie Bar all excited! – ‘As long as you’re up, you might as well come over here and give me a cookie!’
Of course we would try and resist and explain to her about The Dog Who Cried Wolf, but since we actually admired her powers of manipulation, she usually did get a cookie out of the deal! Which meant she would play this little trick repeatedly! What can we say… we were happy to be Kylie’s bitches!
Kylie loved everything about christmas, or Kyliemas as we called it (except maybe when we made her stamp her own christmas cards by putting her paw in ink, then on each card)!
But one of her favorite parts was un-stuffing her stocking..
And it was one of our favorite things to see!
Kylie WAS christmas for us, but we miss her all year long.
It was no secret that Kylie loved to go shopping – for toys or treats, or sometimes even new collars, beds, or clothes! [Like the time she let us know which new bed she wanted by peeing on it IN the store so of course we bought it, even thought it was about five times too big for her!]
But Kylie had another version of shopping that she would do without leaving the house. And I don’t mean online shopping.. While Kylie was ahead of her time where the internet is concerned, she wasn’t quite that advanced. I’m talking about every time we got home from shopping how Kylie would stick her head in each and every bag looking for anything we might have bought for her…
And the really impressive part was, every time there was something in one of those bags that was for Kylie, which I must admit was pretty often, she always found it, pulled it out of the bag and claimed it as hers! How did she know?? What told her that one particular little ‘stuffed thing’ was intended for her, not us? Why did she ignore a bag of human goodies but unpack a bag of Kylie treats?
We did fool her once, when we bought a stuffed thing because her “frenemy”, Min, had a birthday coming up… So Min got her present with some teeth marks in it and no doubt smelling like slobber. Kylie seemed pretty pleased with herself about that too!
Kylie just loved laying out in the sun, we would call her a lizard when she would come in from the patio, tongue dragging, panting like crazy. Then she would stretch out on the floor inside, where it was nice and air conditioned, just long enough to cool down so she could head back out there.
We tried getting her an outdoor bed, like a cot so at least she wouldn’t lay directly on the hot pavement, but half the time we would find her laying on the hot pavement directly beside or in front of the the bed. So on extremely hot days we would just close the doggie door and say, “sorry it’s just not good for you.”
Inside the house she would find the sunniest spot she could, even if it was on the hard kitchen floor, but usually that was in one of her window seats. When we lived in apartments and condos where Kylie didn’t have a yard or even windows low enough for her to sit and observe the world, we always made sure she had access to see out at least one window. We even bought her those seats that you attach to the inside of your windows so your cat can see outside. Of course we didn’t tell Kylie they were really for cats – or that they had to be reinforced because she was slightly heavier than most cats!
Then at some point we noticed on her little nose that she had turned really pink, it even peeled a little. She had a sunburn! Yes, dogs can get sunburned! We felt terrible. For awhile we banned her from the west-facing window seat, but she was so unhappy – so we still felt terrible.
So we went to the store and bought the diy window tinting for cars. We got the darkest they had and put it on the window…. problem solved! Well, that problem anyway, there were also the times Kylie got ‘grounded’ from the window seat for barking, and barking, and barking! But that’s another story.
Btw, we also put heating pads in those window seats for when Kylie insisted on watching the snow fall all day long.
During Kylie’s puppyhood in Hawaii, one of our favorite saturday activities was going to garage sales, aka, “garage sale-ing”. Yes, they have garage sales in paradise – and with the cost of living in Hawaii, garage sale-ing was not only fun, it was a necessity!
And no, going to garage sales is not always fun.. but going with Kylie it was always and adventure! Like the time we decided to leave her in the car and just take a quick look at a garage sale that didn’t look particularly promising, then the next thing we knew while we were looking at the goods in said garage, Kylie was at our feet!? How, you ask?? Well in Hawaii you shouldn’t really ever leave a dog in the car because it is always too hot for that, but since it was only going to be a few minutes (and since we’ve mentioned before we were bad parents) we thought it would be ok if we left the windows about 1/3 of the way down (not just a couple inches). But we definitely did not consider it would even be conceivable that she could climb out, or would for that matter since that left a somewhat significant drop, but We Were Wrong!
“How did you get here?!” we asked her. She answered with a simple, self-satisfied wag. Then there was the time we were walking away from a garage sale and Kylie had rolled over on her back and was squirming around, kicking her feet in the air, which was quite cute and funny until we realized, she was rolling around on a dead frog!! [We later learned that this was a ‘thing’ with Kylie, rolling on smelly things. But as this was early on, we were fairly appalled at the time.]
But there was one thing that was a regular ocurence on our garage sailing adventures.. You may have already read about Kylie’s rescue fund, that turned into Kylie’s allowance once she stopped destroying things. Well thought it was important that Kylie learn the value of a dollar, so when we went to garage sales, she would bring along some of her own money and she could pick out whatever she wanted. Kids’ stuffed animals were ideal toys for her, and getting them for a buck or less was also ideal since she would shred them in short order.
The problem was the people hosting the garage sales would without fail say, “Oh, she’s so cute! She can just have that,” referring to whatever stuffed thing had appealed to Kylie. So we would explain, no, she can’t just have it because we are trying to teach her the value of a dollar! We didn’t want her to think she could always get by, just by being cute!
Of course some people were amused, others thought we were nuts no doubt. But it must have kind of worked, because Kylie truly liked to tear up paper, yet she never ever tore up money.