From the moment our eyes met, I was lost to him. One day in October 2010, I found myself at a Veterinary clinic in Clearfield, Utah. I was returning a lost dog to its owner through the clinic where the dog was registered. As I waited my turn, I looked across the room to a pitiful sight. In a free-standing black cage, a pup stared at me with deep, soulful brown eyes. His gaze never waivered. There were other people in the room with dogs and cats of their own, but this little guy stared straight at me.
I concluded my paperwork at the desk and handed over the lost dog. As I turned, I looked back at the blonde pup in the cage, still staring at me, and noticed a sign on top of the cage: “Please take me home.” My heart absolutely melted into my shoes. I walked over and knelt down next to him.
There is no way to explain the soul-connection that happened at that moment. I felt him, deep in my soul, talking to me. I know this sounds so weird. But at that moment, he told me he would be going home with me.
He did not go home with me. I was shaken. I wasn’t looking for a dog! I didn’t need a dog! (I thought.) I had just begun a very big project at work and was about to leave the country for a few weeks. I didn’t have the time nor the resources for a dog.
I did, however, ask about him at the desk. He had been found wandering, and a good Samaritan brought him to the clinic. Severely malnourished, dehydrated, sick and full of cuts and bruises, they estimated he had been on his own for no less than two months, probably longer. They nursed him back to health and gave him the name, “Kirby,” with the sign above his cage.
Uneasiness followed me all week. I kept thinking about him, even dreaming about him. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I shouldn’t have left him there. I had been too stupid and wrapped up in my own life to recognize what he already instinctively knew: He was mine, and I was his.
The following Friday I called the clinic to find out if he was still without a home. “Yes,” the receptionist replied, “He’s still here.” I arranged to adopt him the next day.
When I apologized to him for leaving him there that week, he gave me his crooked smile (they had to take some teeth), and let me know, “It’s alright. I knew you’d come back.”
Kirby was the most special dog I’ve ever known. He passed away quietly early Sunday morning, October 9, 2016, just one month short of his 15th birthday. He died in my arms. He taught me so many life-truths that, if I could emulate, would make my life so much better. As a tribute to my dear departed friend, here are a few “Kirbyisms.” I call them, “Kirby’s Carrots.”
- Always eat your carrots. I love carrots! I eat a carrot everyday and have the cleanest dog-teeth on the block. Not to mention fresh breath!
- Smell your food before you eat it. It is animal, vegetable, or medicine? You should always know what you’re putting into your mouth. Besides, it’s rude to grab.
- Be polite. Say, “please” and “thank you.” If you want some of that delicious-smelling food your people are eating, don’t jump up, prance around, or make a nuisance of yourself. Sit quietly, questioning with your eyes. “May I have some, please?” Then, when you get a treat, say, “Thank you.” Don’t worry if you can’t speak the language. Just do your best. I think I got pretty good at making the two-syllable sound my master makes. “Thank you.” It’s not difficult to do.
- Wash your paws every chance you get.
- Do your best to smell nice. Alisa always said I didn’t smell like a regular dog. She said I smelled like fresh-baked brownies: whatever those are.
- Be excited to meet everybody. You never know: they might give you a treat, or a pat, or kind word. Wouldn’t that be nice?
- Always come back to your master. It’s OK to explore. As a matter of fact, it’s great! So many smells to explore! But always check-in with your master. Come back often and regularly to say, “Hi, I’m here! Just checking that you’re here, too.” (Alisa drew a picture of our footprints in the snow as we took our morning walks.) Also, if you come when your master calls, there’s no need to wear a leash. Isn’t that cool?
- Keep the house clean. When you come in from the outside, always stop on the landing to wipe your paws. Then check with your master—“May I go in?”—before climbing the stairs.
- Forgive quickly. If your master makes a mistake and leaves you alone in the house too long, let her know it’s OK. She already feels pretty bad about it. I know she always does her best.
- When a member of your family comes home from a long day away, be so excited to see them you can hardly stand it! Run to them. Express your love to them immediately and let them know how very glad you are that they are home. This helps them feel important. Because of course, they are.
Lots of Love,