It’s Never Easy

On June 15, I lost my best friend of 12 years – my Doberman, Kaila. She was a sprightly 84 and slowly becoming more elderly with her mannerisms. She still jumped at the door to be let in, ate both her food and her sister Daisy’s food and was always eager for a gentle hand to rub her neck, nose and belly. But even with knowing that her age would overcome her excitement for life one day, our family did not predict at all that it would come while we were on vacation.

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On her 12th birthday in April.

As soon as I answered the phone with my pet sitter (another Sigma Kappa sister) on the other line, I knew what had happened with her teary voice and gulps of air as she told the unpleasant news. The mother in me tried to console her as this was not to be part of her job; the best friend in me tried to hold back my tears, knowing that I would have to break the news to my ten-year old, with whom Kaila slept with every night. I’ve lost animals before, but never one who I always considered to be my rock and my constant. She became part of the family at twelve weeks old, the runt of her family. She sat on my lap on the way home, a little fifteen-pound black and tan bundle that was all legs. She wore a cone around her neck for a month as a puppy, since she kept knocking out the stints in her ears to keep them straight and upwards. She was my first dog and I welcomed every trial and delight.

She welcomed my baby as her baby two years later. She helped me cope through my divorce, allowing me to lie on the floor, head on her belly and cry out my tears. She withstood the introduction of a new puppy when she was seven (me thinking that she needed a friend as she went into her “senior” years) who further enriched her joyfulness for life. At ten years, she welcomed my second son and had been enduring his Jeckel and Hyde toddler years. At eleven years, we moved to a new house and I began to witness her newfound difficulties – learning to overcome stairs for the first time, falling, accidents and taking medication. She never gave up – her spirit always high.

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Enjoying a baseball game at a Dogs in the Park event.

I wasn’t there when my father passed away and I wasn’t there when Kaila passed away. As I write this, still on vacation with the beach and sea out my window, the reality hasn’t fully hit me, even though I’ve bawled so many times already my eyes are consistently red and puffy. Maybe it is better that I handled her arrangements remotely. This way my last memory of the two of us together is down on the floor, my head to her belly, like so many times in years past.

I love you old girl. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life.


At lunch the day we found out, to help us with this loss, we all toasted Kaila with a memory (milk for the boys of course!). We decided to cremate her so that we can both have an urn in the house and sprinkle some in a grave we’ll make after her remains are ready. Writing this post also helped with my grief. My oldest will also choose a picture of her that he loves and we’ll blow it up to hang on the wall. Another way to remember a favorite pet is to donate to a cause in their memory. The Sigma Kappa Foundation is a fantastic option!

What are your suggestions of remembering a favorite pet?

Jennifer Helton Holt

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