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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.