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Monday, February 11, 2013

Always on my mind

It has been snowing on and off since Saturday, creating a Winter Wonderland. We've hiked in snow and in the sunny breaks between snow squalls. If you look closely at R's eye in the photo below, you can see that he's gazing intently at a person. If you know R, you know that he only bestows this look on a few people, and the main one is the Runner.
As an aside, there's no news on R's cancer test yet so I'll have to make some calls tomorrow.

I participate in a photography group called the "Daily Dog Challenge" which challenges you to take a photo with a certain theme each day. Today's challenge was "Always on my mind" - and it involved photographing a place that you strongly associate with your dog.

I have certain places that I've been visiting with my dogs for years and years, particularly K and Shyla. So, this morning, Shyla and I started our snowbike ride on the plateau where K and I often watched the sunrise together. Shyla has carried on this tradition, although I've found that she likes to play and perch in different spots than K did.

It had snowed overnight... and it was gorgeous. I felt like K was with us.
It was also very cold, below 0°F, and Shyla had a frost beard for our entire ride.
Aside from having a shaved belly that is growing back its fur at an incredible rate, Shyla seems to be completely recovered from her laparoscopic spay.
After playing in the sunrise light until a cloud shaded the world, we headed up to Hug Hill. I'm sure that many of you remember how precious I felt that my trips to Hug Hill with K were as we approached the end of her life.

Here is K running across the peak last spring.
And here is Shyla doing the same. Of course, Shyla is younger and healthier than K was in the photo above so she added a bit of pizazz to her gallop, kicking up her heels.
And stretched out into a full galloping stride...
K loved to prop herself on a stump that's near the top of Hug Hill. She did it on almost every visit to the hill. She was squinting in this photo because her chemotherapy gave her hypersensitivity to bright light.
At one point in the spring, K went through a rough patch, and I thought that we had no more visits to Hug Hill in our future because the hike was too strenuous for her. It turned out that I was wrong because K rallied. We started hiking there regularly again - but I felt like each visit was "extra" and extremely precious. Consequently, I started a ritual. For every "extra" visit to Hug Hill, I'd find a small rock and show it to K to inspect. Then, I'd put it in one of the crevices on top of K's stump. You can see the accumulating pebbles in the photo below.
After K passed, I felt like those pebbles represented an important lesson from K - to seize and appreciate each day - so I collected them into a jar that sits on my dresser. Each of those pebbles represented a day that K and I lived and loved together. These pebbles inspire me to get out in the forest with Shyla even on days when I have lots of pain from my spine.
At first, when Shyla arrived, I felt a little funny about her propping her paws on K's stump. But, over these months, it's become "K and Shyla's stump". I hope that Shyla feels K's spirit whenever she stands tall and proud on Hug Hill.
Yes, in all of these places, K is "always on my mind", and she will be forever.


  1. Hi Y'all,

    What a moving brought tears to my eyes...

    BrownDog's Human

  2. Those girls on their stump,so very special, frosty beards and paws, and YES, always in your mind, forever. Greetings to all, R and Runner too, from Jean

  3. What a wonderful post! I love the pebble remembrances for K, and the photos of K and Shyla covering the same ground are so very beautiful - visually and emotionally.

  4. Wow, KB. Got me blubbering and thinking of what I can do with my girl to forever seize the day!

  5. Thank you for sharing this with us - very touching (and lovely photos.)

  6. The special bond & love you have with Shyla and R shows even through the photos and stories you share with us. We miss K too.

    xo Cinnamon & Linda

  7. That made me tear up. Beautiful post.
    Nola's Mom

  8. Very beautiful KB. The pebbles brought a tear to MOM's eye as she looked up to see a few of the pebbles she has on our entertainment center that she collected with her time with Pete. He's never far away.

  9. This post so touched my heart. Hug Hill has special meaning to Bert and I as well. Shyla looks incredible blazing up the hill, posing on the log. I just know K is proud of both of you.

    Bert's My Vickie

  10. I love the story you've told, especially the symbology of the rocks. It's the perfect depiction of the human animal relationship at its best.

    p.s. I hope you get a chance to see the two photos I posted of Latte today. They were a pleasant surprise when I downloaded them. I love when that happens.

  11. I love that you did that with the pebbles, that that you kept them!

    I also love Shyla's frost beard. And that gorgeous shot of R.

  12. The look in R's eyes! That loving gaze... alert & ready. The look that says:

    "If you tell me to go to the Moon & back, I will... for you!!"

    I can hear the wistfulness in your voice today. A walk down Memory Lane you went... on your way to Hug Hill.


  13. It looks to me that someone important is telling R that Labradors are once again the number one dog in America and that he and his sister are top notch.

    I love the little rocks you have saved, a sweet remembrance of K and your time together.


  14. R's photo is so beautiful. It is one of life's more magical feelings to have a dog look at you like that.

    It seems that K and Shyla are part of a great circle of life...

  15. What a beautiful post, KB!

    Love ya lots
    Mitch and Molly

  16. Beautiful and moving tribute to all of your dogs...I, too, have tears in my eyes! Thank you so much for your inspiration each and every day.
    Jeanne, Chloe and LadyBug

  17. I truly loved this post. Made me think about my sweet chocolate lab Buster and all the things i loved about him. He taught me so much about life and how to live each day. He taught my son to really love dogs and because of him, Jonathan wanted a dog in his life. Sadly that never came to pass but I have a beautiful tribute to Buster that Jonathan put together hanging on the wall. He put some fav pictures of Buster in a frame, and wrote these words: " Though I may live to be 100, i will never love as wholy and purely in my entire life as Buster Taylor did in one day of his". It is a treasured piece that I love to see every day and those words bring me closer to both Jonathan and Buster. Always on my mind......

  18. What a beautiful post and I love the idea of the pebbles!

  19. I think about K all the time too. I'm so glad to see Shyla taking on her own traditions. Love seeing her run like that. Silly! I need a pebble thing for Lilly to help me cope. Neat idea.

  20. That snow is not stopping you guys one bit. We like that Shyla found K's stump
    Benny & Lily

  21. What a heart-wrenching and heart-warming post.

    Nadine & goldens Neeli & Elle

  22. Love the pebble idea! What a sweet way to remember K!! Thank you for sharing that!! :)

  23. Lovely post and I´m sure Shyla will feel Ks spirit on that special place Hug hill.....
    SUperb pictures as usual, you are very good

  24. To fondly remember K while enjoying the days with Shyla - it is as it was meant to be. I'm sorry to hear that you're having more pain, but glad that you have Shyla (and memories of K) to remind you to seize as much life as you can.

  25. This was such a beautiful post, for a lot of reasons! The photos are amazing and the lessons behind it are so important. I think K would be happy to know that her stump is still being used. Just because we lose someone that we love deeply doesn't mean that love dies, even when we begin to love again.

    I loved reading this post today because my mom called me tonight in tears to tell me that she'd lost her beloved dog. I knew he was on borrowed time for a long time, but he held on for her. It reminds me of the dogs that I've loved and lost, too.


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