Recently, during a sunrise snowbike ride with Shyla, she came to me with a stick. She stood and looked at me, and her request was obvious. Let's play!
About two years ago, K had just been diagnosed with osteosarcoma. We'd taken her to Colorado State Veterinary School for treatment. On her first treatment day, she had intense radiation treatment for her forelimb tumor and chemotherapy - a tough day by anyone's standards.
The morning after her first treatment, K and I went out for what I thought would be a pitiful little walk. My abysmal attitude was that our walk would be nothing like the glorious bike rides and long hikes that we'd taken in the past. I was feeling grief-stricken. I knew the odds - and I knew that the treatments were probably only buying a little bit of time.
As I shuffled along feeling morose, I looked up and saw that K had found a stick. She'd trotted over and stood expectantly, clearly saying "Let's play!". Her naked irradiated leg with the tumor still protruding looked fragile but her spirit was strong and happy.
The photo of K provokes such strong memories for me because she was showing me how she wanted to live the remaining months of her life. She was choosing the light, the happiness, and the joy - rather than hanging her head and letting the darkness engulf her.
Indeed, K lived that way until the very end, teaching me more about life than I ever dreamed I'd learn during such a heart-breaking journey. My young heart dog was dying of cancer but was showing me how to live at the same time.
It is hard to express in words how much K's spirit still guides me every day. Life is full of challenges but, by following K's simple lesson of choosing the light over the darkness whenever I can, I am a happier person.
I know that many of you started reading this blog after K's death so I am including a link to the tribute video that I made after her death. Believe me, her spirit is still alive and well inside me. And, I sometimes wonder if a little of her spirit is inside Shyla too.