Our sweet Kennedy was two months shy from being 16 years old. Over those sixteen years she has been there with us through it all. The ups, the downs, and everything in between. She has greeted us at the door when we brought all three of our babies home. She was even there when I went through two miscarriages. When no one else knew what to say or do, she did. She would lay there next to me and just be. She's been something different to all of us but none of us got just a piece of her. We all felt 100% of her love all the time. To Mike, she was HIS dog. First and foremost, she belonged to him. His love for her has never been more evident as he has lovingly taken care of her in her time of need these last few months. He has cleaned up her messes when she could no longer control her bodily functions, he has held her when she could no longer hold up herself, he has carried her when she could no longer walk. He was right there with her till the end. To Colby, she was a fan. She always wanted to be outside with him. Not to play with him - just to watch him and be with him. To Holden she was a best friend. She was a constant companion and the best secret keeper! To Hope, she was a babysitter. I could always count on Kennedy to make sure Hope didn't get into anything that she wasn't suppose to. She had this gentle way of positioning herself between Hope and anything that could hurt her. And, to me, she was that quiet presence and constant companion that I could always count on - even when everyone else was out of the house.
We've watched her slowly age and have gone through episodes where we thought this might be it. But, in true Kennedy fashion, she would always rally. This past Thanksgiving was one of those times. We even cancelled our Thanksgiving plans with family so that we could be with her. Holden begged and pleaded with Kennedy to please make it till Christmas. I honestly believe that Kennedy willed herself to make it through Christmas.
This past week, Kennedy started refusing food. She wouldn't eat anything - not even treats which she loved. She was having a hard time getting around. Thursday night as Mike and I were laying in bed, he quietly said, "I think it might be time." Hot tears puddled in my eyes. It had been the elephant in the room but we hadn't talked about it. We both agreed that he would call the vet on Friday.
Friday came and went and the vet never returned his call. We took this as a sign that it wasn't suppose to be and went about making plans for the weekend. Mike finally heard back from the vet around 10am on Saturday and he told Mike what we didn't want to hear. It was our decision but he recommended that we put Kennedy to sleep. The appointment was made for 2pm that afternoon. So we had four hours. Four more hours to love on the dog that had loved us for her entire life.
Time passed and then it was time to go. Kennedy slowly walked to the garage almost like she knew. Mike had gotten her kennel out but had taken off the top. It made it easier to get her in and out of our car with less stress on her. No one said a word. We pulled up to a stoplight and the truck in front of us had two golden retrievers in the back of the bed. It almost looked like they were smiling. The sun was shining and the wind was blowing. Kennedy use to love to ride in the back of Mike's truck! It was like a sign - she was going to be ok. Soon she wouldn't hurt anymore.
We arrived at the vet and the led us back to a room. We let each kiddo decide if they wanted to be there and they all agreed they did. They were all very brave but very upset. Kennedy's breathing was heavy but she didn't seem agitated or scared. The vet staff took her to the back to place the catheter in her front leg and then brought her back for us to have a few more minutes with her. Each morning we stand in a circle and hold hands and Mike prays a quick prayer before everyone heads out the door. We always loved when Kennedy would stick her head in our circle so we only thought it was fitting to gather around her and pray. We thanked God for giving her to us and for showing us what real love looked like. We prayed for a peaceful passing for her and for comfort for our broken hearts. We petted her, kissed her, and told her goodbye. We noticed her breathing was not as labored. She seemed at peace. The vet then came in to put the medicine in her catheter. At this time, all three kiddos left the room. It was just too much for them. But then Hope came back. So, Mike, Hope, and I, through tear filled eyes, watched as Kennedy took her last breath. It was peaceful. She just stopped breathing. The vet checked for a heartbeat and then confirmed what we already knew. She was gone.
The vet staff prepared her so that we could bury her at our home. We loaded her in the back of our car for one final road trip. As we walked through our door, the finality of it hit. She wasn't there waiting for us.
The boys spent the rest of the afternoon and into the evening preparing her grave. Once it was ready, we all went outside and said one last goodbye. They filled the hole in the ground but the hole in our hearts will never go away. We know with time the sadness will be replaced with happy memories but for now we grieve. We grieve a dog that loved us with every thing she had. She forgave us immediately when we would get upset with her. She never put herself before us. She always protected. She was always there. Until now. But even though she's gone, she's left us the best part. The reminder of what it feels like to be loved the right way. The reminder of how we should love others.
Rest in peace, sweet Kennedy. We love you so much.