It would seem that I can't go more than a month without one of my elderly dogs passing away. If ever I was ignorant as to the circle of life, after a long Winter of loss, I feel it's power deeply. For every smile that I was blessed with at the side of my beloved dogs, there will be a tear on the day that they leave me forever. Seems like an easy choice to make when their life force is pulsing beneath your finger tips and the shine in their lively eyes promises forever. It is the best most unexpected state of bliss to welcome new life. No matter what else exists in your space, new life glows brightest. The possibilities are endless when love emerges and grows bigger and stronger with every moment together. Sometimes, new life is not young in years. Sometimes, new life is old. No matter age or size, new life is special, is pure and is the beginning of a new life together.
Kahlua arrived as an elderly rescue dog, in the Summer of 2012. After the passing of my first elderly small dog rescue, Esther, after too short a time together, Eric tried to fill the empty space in my heart with another. After an adoption event, Eric came home with a small elderly chihuahua named Tequila and her even smaller and older partner a fox terrier mix named Kahlua. The pair had lived with an elderly woman who had to go into assisted living and lost her home and pets. Eric had found Tequila at the end of the event, no one showing interest in her all day. Eric saw the shaking little dog and aged white face and knew she was leaving with him. But, he only had her in his arms for a moment when a woman came running up with Kahlua saying, "wait, you have to take him too!" Eric saw the tiny black and white dog also shaking in the woman's arms and with the tip of his little pink tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, his teeth obviously rotten and mostly gone. Eric didn't hesitate and when he called me on his way home he told me that he had something to show me. I knew that could only mean a dog, but thinking he would bring some giant breed dog or young and destructive puppy, I was not immediately pleased. Instead, I hung up and groaned a little and went back to work with the dogs.
As he lead me out of the house to the back of our friend's SUV, the back hatch open, I couldn't see what was inside until I had reached the crate itself sitting inside. Cowering and shaking, Tequila and Kahlua sat looking up at me, wide eyed and trembling. My smile was instantaneous. My heart was sacrificed to this surprise of new life. They had all of me from 'hello'.
With some dental work to remove most of what teeth had not yet rotted from his mouth, Kahlua kept his new all purpose expression of tongue out to the side. The gap between two good teeth on that side let his little pink tongue slip out to the air. He could still eat most anything and even chewed bones like he hadn't been left with a toothless mouth in his old age. Being a terrier, Kahlua always knew he was as tough as anyone and actually came into the house with a little more of an edge than his Chihuahua sister. Although, Tequila was always aloof with new people at first, but warms up to some and still remains fierce with some strangers. Kahlua was always willing to meet new people but would then sit in front of them and guard them fiercely, attacking any dog that came in his space, no matter the size of the other dog. Of course this would only make himself a target and he was lucky that his pack members respected him enough to accept his seeming sudden ferocity. We worked on this behavior and like a little dog that was never properly house broken, he would mark everywhere, which we also helped him with and eliminated over time. Who says that you can't teach old dogs new tricks? Kahlua, in the less than two years that we had him transformed from a tense, dominant and wound up little monster to a sweet laid back old man. His lifetime with me was like many other rehabilitation stories, when a dog comes to us and lays all of their issues at our feet and takes in every new opportunity to grow and learn and enjoy this pack life. He was the smallest dog in the house, but he had the inner strength of a warrior. He didn't let a traumatic event like losing his forever home suddenly end his story. Lucky in rescue, he made his way to a place that let him be the best and happiest little social creature he could be. And at the peak of his new journey, at the highest place of balance and reward that he could achieve, Kahlua's age caught up to him and his body gave out on him. Like a burning candle filling the space around him with warmth and light that is suddenly snuffed out, Kahlua's energy is gone. In his final moments, in my arms, he breathed his last loving breath, a devoted companion to the very end. His terrier zeal, all four pounds of it, is extinguished and it leaves the all too familiar weight of loss. In his absence, my heart is filled with the love and admiration that I have been storing up from quiet moments when true love was shared with my little man Kahlua. Thank you for being everything you could be in this life together. Your memory is thick in my mind and heart. I still feel you here. I miss you. xoxo