The phrase "a dog is a man's best friend" also applied to this woman. For 13 years, my world revolved around our baby boy, Kasie, an energetic, loving Dalmatian.
With several recent stories about lost animals, abuse and good Samaritans helping an animal in need, I thought it fitting to share some of my fond memories of Kasie and the joy he brought to my life.
Without a child at the time, Kasie was our world. I know many of you can relate. On the ride home after we picked him up from the breeder, Kasie started off our relationship by marking his territory ... all over my lap and the blanket he was wrapped in.
His puppy stage was not awful, and we thanked our lucky stars that he was not a chewer. The only item I can remember him destroying was my husband's Oakley sunglasses.
(By the way, these are not cheap. Why he would spend more than $100 on a pair of sunglasses is beyond me. I tend to lean toward the $5 ones, since I seem to lose or break them more often then not.)
For obvious reasons, Kevin was not a happy camper, but he took the good with the bad. From Kasie's puppy breath to the times when, exhausted after running around so long, Kasie collapsed and we could lift his paw in Hulk Hogan fashion three times without him opening his eyes, it will be etched in our minds forever.
One of the hardest things we ever had to do was put him to sleep. His health was failing and it was time. Yet, Kevin and I could not bring ourselves to do it at first, canceling the appointment over and over again.
We knew it was the right decision but could not let go for selfish reasons. On that day, we laid with him on the floor in the vet's office for well over an hour, sobbing while saying our goodbyes.
It took months to adjust to not having a pet in the house. The little black and white hairs that were embedded in the furniture remained after numerous cleanings. The table scraps we saved were still set aside during dinner only to be thrown out.
Habits are hard to break. Almost every day without fail, Kasie and I took a walk around town, even in snowstorms and downpours. He didn't care what the weather was; he would whine and carry on until we went.
In his final months, when his hind end was giving out, he still insisted we go. I accommodated him, although I was extremely pregnant and had to carry the 75-pound bundle of canine joy home after he could no longer walk about 100 yards from our house.
He was my protector, my snuggle buddy, a member of our family.
I have to share a little secret: I don't particularly care to be home alone.
There is a reason behind it _ my brother. Years ago, I was home alone reading in my bedroom and the day shifted to night.
My childhood house was old, and creaked constantly. I heard those familiar noises from the stairs, which would generally indicate someone was home.
I yelled out "Mom?" "Mark?," but no one answered, so I thought nothing of it. Then I heard it again. I called out a second time with no response.
I was convinced there was someone there, and my nervousness and terror had me grabbing for the softball bat in my closet.
Mark, my self-proclaimed jokester brother, jumped out from around the corner into my doorway. He was lucky he ducked or I would have hit a home run with his head. I am sure he is probably hysterically laughing right now as he thinks back to that night.
Kasie, based on my fear, was my peace of mind. I knew he would protect me, and it was comforting.
My husband has been pushing for another dog, even enlisting my daughter, Hailey, to string mastered words together like "mommy," "puppy," "please," to drive home the effort.
Do I miss the security and the companionship? Yes. Do I want another dog? Yes. Now? No. I am simply not ready to move on yet. I miss Kasie and he will always hold a special place in my heart. There will never be a replacement for Kasie.
No news is good news, right? Well the smoking effort remains constant; yes, I am still at five.
Over the last several weeks, I have had the opportunity to attend many community functions, and have been recognized as "the woman who is trying to quit smoking." The stories and suggestions you give me are extremely helpful and oftentimes keep me from reverting back to more than my daily allotment.
If nothing else, the five I am at now is a far cry from the 40 cigarettes I was smoking before, and I consider that a small victory.
Tanya Shalor is publisher of The Daily Star and may be reached at (607) 432-1000, ext. 214, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears every other week.