Kenai – RIP

Our beloved dog Kenai died Wednesday at 10:20 am. He was at our house in Eldorado Springs with Amy and our other dog Brooks. It was sudden and unexpected – he went quickly and painlessly. He was 12.

My last moment with him was the day before when I left the house to go to the office. I had my bags with me as I was heading out for an overnight trip to Oklahoma City. He always followed me to the door whenever I left town (he knew what my Filson bag meant). This time he was lying on his dog bed near the door downstairs. He looked up at me with one eye – in that magical way he sort of doggie-winked at me all the time – and I patted him on the head as I walked by and said “goodbye old man – see you soon.”

Kenai was a magnificent dog. 110 pounds. Beautiful. Extremely well tempered. He loved to be with us and he loved to run wild in both Eldorado Springs and Keystone. We’d let him out and he’d run off for 30 minutes, or an hour, or sometimes a few hours. He’d always come back, sometimes with a deer bone and a big smile, and demand his treat with his signature “rrrr-rrrr-rrrr” bark. It made me laugh every time – he knew what he wanted and damnit he was going to get it.

Until a few years ago we regularly went to the Reservoir. This was one of my standard short runs when I was home and a walk that Amy and I often do together. Kenai has this drill mastered – he’d cover about twice as much distance as us as he’d jog ahead 100 yards, turn around and come back to us, and then jog ahead again. When we got to the Reservoir, he’d always be in it already, going for a swim, chasing the ducks which he never caught, and just enjoying being a dog alive in the wilderness.

Like me, he was an excellent sleeper. I remember waking up late on many Saturday and Sunday mornings with him still asleep, often where Amy used to be in the bed. On weekend days after I’d worn myself out from the week, he’d just hang around close to me, doing nothing but keeping me company.

When we got Brooks, Kenai was six. This was the same age his older brother Denali was when we got him. There was something beautiful about the symmetry of this and, after a short adjustment from being the young dog to the old dog, Kenai played his role as older brother perfectly. He taught Brooks how to run around on our land, chase deer, elk, and squirrels, bark at the occasional bear, sleep through pretty much anything, and give us golden retriever eyes in an effort to get just one more treat. They played rough with each other – just up to the edge of too much – and Kenai would always back off when he knew it was getting out of hand. He loved Brooks, just like he loved Denali, just like we loved him.

Kenai – you were an amazing companion. I didn’t think I could love a dog as much as I loved you. I’ll miss you dearly. Thank you for making my life a better one. Enjoy the giant treat yard in the sky.

  • I’m so sorry brad. Love the post.

    I know how ya feel.

    • cking

      Thinking of you, Amy and Brooks. So sad. Hand on to that treasure trove of happy memories.

  • Sorry to hear of your loss. A good dog is a treasure beyond words. We have a wonderful 13-year-old canine companion that has very similar coloring to Kenai. Dreading the inevitable day we have to experience her departure.

  • Thank you for sharing this tribute. Those of us who are lucky to have dogs as part of our families know what a special role they play in our lives. I’m sorry to hear your sad news. I’m grateful you had such a wonderful dog for every moment he was with you.

    • Thx Rex. It’s a few days later and there are less tears here in Eldo, but we are still thinking of him every few minutes.

  • I’m sorry to hear about Kenai. Sounds like he was an awesome Dog. We have one in our family and he is my first dog. It is great how they become part of the family and bring smiles to everyone. My best to Brooks and Denali.

  • Steve

    Thank you for sharing, and sorry for your loss. This reminds me of my childhood family retriever Tahoe, what a piece of work that dog was. Good memories!

    • Retrievers are so awesome. I never thought I’d be a dog lover until we got our first one (Denali). I’ve never regretted that decision one iota.

  • Oh, man.

    Hounds are the best!!

  • Sorry for the loss of your friend Brad.

  • Love the post. Can fully relate..

    I had one dog die and had to give another away since we were moving too far out to take her.

    That was really really really bad.. 🙁

    • I can’t even imagine having to give a dog away. That sounds so heartbreaking .

      • I still remember it vividly, Brad.

        That was much worse than Frisky dying of old age..

  • brgInRedSidis

    sorry to hear this. Kenai sounds like he was a wonderful friend.

  • Sandy

    I’m so sorry. Kenai was a very lucky dog. I can feel your love for him.

  • jeff

    So sorry for your loss Brad. I’ve loved and lost two goldens and can relate. They bring such joy to our lives and teach us lessons if we pay attention with golden retriever eyes.

    • Sending you good golden karma.

  • Very sorry Brad. Dogs have an amazing impact on us while they’re with us and then provide some of our fondest memories when they’re gone.

    • I think I hear the phrase “dogs are gods” from Jerry before I heard it from anyone else.

  • I’m pretty sure that Angels have 4 legs and a snout.

    • What a deeply wonderful line! I will reuse it often.

    • Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.

  • Sorry for your loss Brad. You and Amy ensured Kenai had a great life and he returned the love X10.

  • Sad to hear Brad, but it looks like you gave him a wonderful life and he returned the favor while he could.

    • He returned it 10-fold – such an awesome dog. Thx for the nice note.

  • Those photos make me want to cry. So sorry about your loss.

  • Allison Bergamo

    Oh Brad – your post brought tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry for your loss. You and Amy have been blessed with beautiful, loving dogs. Sending warm thoughts your way. How is Brooks doing?

    • Brooks is doing surprisingly well. He’s outside right now laying in the sun with a smile on his face.

  • Kevin M

    Brad – so sorry to hear about Kenai. Sounds like he was a great dog. You were both so lucky to have each other for 12 years.

  • beachhousevp

    Amazing how much perspective a dog can bring to ones life. May the healing be of happy of thoughts of Kenai

  • Very sorry to hear.

    Bear is only 3. Rescued him this summer, and we’re inseparable (which makes travel very tough). Sounds similar–loves to run (daily hikes at state parks), and loves water. Finds a puddle and lays down in it, sees a river, dives right in.

    I’m always so amazed by how distinct their personalities are, and how much better I feel when I’m with Bear.

    Sorry to hear you’ve lost your friend, and thanks for sharing.

  • Rahul Pathak

    Thanks for sharing, Brad. As a dog owner and sap, this made me tear up.

  • He was a good dude. Im sure he will be missed, great post.

  • You know you’re thought of getting a second dog at five sounds like a good idea. When we lost Gretel we almost couldn’t get another dog because our hearts were so broken.

    • This is round two of this. I think we are probably going to be a one dog family going forward. Brooks seems to be doing well, which cheers us up.

  • Ed

    Ouch. We have a Lab and Red Setter that are both 15 1/2 years old. In ‘extra time’ as the vet keeps telling us. Not looking forward to the inevitable.

    • Cherish the extra time – 15.5 is awesomeness.

  • My condolences, Brad. Life doesn’t truly begin until you get a dog and it’s never the same after you know the love from one.

  • Sorry to hear about Kenai, Brad. It’s great to cherish the years we get with them. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks for sharing Brad, going through that sort of love and loss adds perspective to our lives that few other experiences can match. Best to your family.

  • rosscarlson

    Damn you for making me tear up at the office. Kenai really was a great dog and I’m lucky to have gotten to spend some time with him. The last time I saw him was a week or so ago when I went up to do some work. I’d always just let myself in and he and Brooks would always greet me with a big smile. He was lucky to have had an amazing life with you guys, there are few dogs as lucky.

    • He always loved seeing you. He sensed your deep golden happy love dog energy.

  • I am so sorry to hear of his passing. I am glad that I was able to meet him and his energy and personality will be a welcome memory.

    • Just recently he telepathically said to me “where’s Micah – I miss him.” And I feel the same – can’t wait to see you soon.

  • Brad, so sorry for your loss. Kenai sounds like an amazing dog. I work at home every day with my beloved 12 year old lab at my feet, cherishing what time we have left together.

    • What is your lab’s name? Give her/him a hug for me.

  • Brad, so sorry to read about Kenai. Brought tears to my eyes. My condolences to you and Amy…..

  • So sorry to hear.

    Painful, but enjoyed reading your and Amy’s blog.

    I hope you, Amy, and Brooks are doing better…

    • Sill plenty of tears here but today is better.

  • So sorry to hear this. I have a 9 yr old sweetheart golden also, who is most certainly in her golden years. It’s amazing what I’ve learned from her though. With each new physical issue that slows her down, she seems to make up for it in enthusiasm and sweetness. Dogs are amazing and Goldens are even more. So sorry for your loss.

    • Give her a hug for me.

  • Oh no! You were just showing me his picture with Brooks on your iPhone last week! 

    I’m so sorry for your loss. At least he waited for you to be back from your 19 day trip. He was a smart dog! RIP Kenai. 

    • I’m so glad that I at least had a few days with him in between the 19 day trip and hitting the road again. I would have been even more devastated if I hadn’t had a few days with him.

  • timpettit

    You have such vivid and warm memories of Kenai — thanks for sharing them with us. May God find a way to fill that gaping hole that Kenai’s passing has left in your heart. So very sorry about your awful loss.

  • sorry to hear that. take care.

  • Sorry to hear the sad news. My wife has been pushing for us to get a dog and one of the things holding me back is fear of losing them after so many years. Still will probably get one in the next couple of years.

    • Take the jump – they are amazing companions.

      • My wife is very happy to hear these words. We will probably sooner than later!

  • gutted for you Brad, they truly are man’s best friend.

  • Thinking about you guys.

  • 🙂
    Fond farewell to a family member

  • What a lovely tribute. I’m glad Kenai lived in a place where dogs are allowed in reservoirs. Where I live they’re not even allowed in some watershed areas. In particular, they can’t go to Dog Lake of all places.

    • Oh – the irony of a dog not being able to go into Dog Lake. Sad panda face.

  • My deepest condolences to you and Amy. We lost Kobe back in September after 11 1/2 great years together. We still talk about her nearly every day. But it is a blessing to die peacefully and quickly. I consider us fortunate that a routine exam caught her cancer early; even though it was incurable, it gave us nearly 6 months to spoil her and love her, knowing her time was short, and like Kenai, she was only ill for about 24 hours before passing away.

    • A fast passing is merciful for everyone. It’s how I want to go. I don’t even want to know it happens – I just want the lights to go out.

  • lynnerae

    My heart goes out to you and Amy for the loss of Kenai. But the companionship, love, and lessons these special souls share with us make any loss minor in comparison to the gifts given while by our sides.

    Claude, my 10-year old Golden is my best friend, running buddy and our office receptionist. I have known him since the day he was born, and he lived with his father, Max, until he passed unexpectedly at age 8 (reaction to poison toad is our best guess). The “backup dog” plan worked well for me in overcoming the supreme sense of loss of Max, but I have not brought in another “sibling” for Claude, and frankly — as he goes everywhere with me — I’m going to just brave it up and enjoy him solo. We live at the beach in Punta Mita, Mexico, and Claude enjoys a similarly freestyle life as Kenai and Brooks. He swims in the ocean several times a week, runs off-leash alongside me as I run, and contemplates the golf course in his back yard without every venturing on it.

    Goldens rule.

    • Goldens are the greatest. We are struggling with whether to stay at one or go back to two. I think one is going to win out for a while as Brooks seems to be hanging in there and doing fine.

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  • Can painfully relate to the utter heartbreak of such a loss – it is some consolation that a loved pet becomes a friend and creates so many happy moments and memories for us. It’s a privilege to have them in our lives. RIP xx

  • beautiful animals, i’m sad for you that he’s gone but glad to know there was so much love there and you had such a great companion. thanks for sharing

  • Sorry to hear that Brad, always a tough time. RIP Kenai

  • Rich

    So sorry Brad. Had 3 dogs before I had kids. I know how tough it is.

  • I smiled reading your memories and shed a tear at the same time because we too lost our lovable Obi (a Golden as well) earlier this week – he was 7. The hardest part was trying to explain what happened to our 18 month old who was looking for him the next morning (they were best friends). Our thoughts are certainly with you and your family (and your other furry friends).

  • Marianne Navada

    Sorry to hear about Kenai. Both my husband and I work from home and our two yorkies are our constant companion and best friends.

  • Sorry to hear. We lost our golden this year as well, such amazing dogs, it’s unreal how much a part of your life they become so quickly.

    • I still miss him every day.

      • I second that. My 4 year old son still asks “where’s shadow?” at least weekly. Still hurts. Hopefully we are in a spot this spring for a new Golden.

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