Photos and text copyright Romping and Rolling in the Rockies 2009-2017.

All photographs and text within this blog are copyrighted.

You may not copy or repost any photos or text without specific permission from the author of this blog. When in doubt, please ask.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Spirit that Guides Me

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!
It seems like such a simple thing for Shyla to have done, but it brought back an intense memory of K.

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.
I'm sure you can't tell but the two photos of Shyla and K with sticks in their mouths were taken in almost exactly the same spot. So, when I saw Shyla standing in that spot looking expectant with a stick, my heart skipped a beat as I remembered that day two years ago.

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.
K's attitude was a huge part of why we chose to adopt Shyla just months after K's death. Despite her cancer, K had chosen to live with bright shining joy instead of wallowing in the darkness. After she died, I felt the legacy of her spirit guiding us to shower her goofy little brother R with love - and to share our hearts with another dog - Shyla.

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.


  1. loved the shared spirit in these two bright spots in your life. :)

  2. So special. This post about K and Shyla and their joy and to live in the moment and find the joy gave me huge goose bumps. Lessons that we can learn from and find the joy. Thank you
    Barb and the furkids. Ernie, Chica, Lucas, and Rosie

  3. Heartfelt words, and seeing your video all over again, I can only imagine at your courage to sort through all the photos, choose, and share with us this fitting and loving tribute. K's spirit and love will indeed live on, with you, in Shyla, and with those of us who are privileged to have a wonderful friendship here. Fond greetings, Jean.


  4. Very moving, both K and Shyla hold a special place for all who read here. I look forward to seeing you in my reader each day.

    xo Cinnamon
    here's to a great game tomorrow.
    Go Hawks and Broncos.

  5. So moving. I see K's spirt in Shyla's eyes, even though I never met either of them.
    Nola's Mom

  6. such a beautiful tribute….

  7. That was a wonderful post. I remember K's journey.and so many could benefit from the life lessons that she taught.

  8. After you pointed out that the pictures were in the same spot I can see the flat rock Shyla is standing on in the picture with K. I truly believe the dogs that have past through our home have left pieces of their spirits behind. There are things that Millie does that are so much like what our GSD Steffi did I could swear that Steffi's spirit is part of Millie.

    I can see K in a lot of you pictures of Shyla and I don't think it is just because they are both chocolate labs.


  9. I am so glad you have found such peace and comfort in K's life and death. The video was great.

  10. Never having met you in person does not take away from the fact you that are a woman with wisdom of the ages. What you share with us of your life with K and Shyla helps us all look at the light instead of the darkness.
    bless you

  11. What a great post. I bet K is there with you every day

  12. I can feel the love you had for K just by reading this post. I bet K is so proud of you for bringing home Shyla and loving another dog again.

  13. such a beautiful post... losing both of my boxers (along with many family members) to cancer is part of the reason i relay for life with the american cancer society...

  14. I've felt that way several times in my life, that a new dog had some uncanny traits from one that had passed. For me, it's always been a comforting thing, and in a way, it helps me to let go of some things. After Treat died, I remember intensely missing the dance of joy she would do whenever I came home. And then Bunny came along, with her own unique dance and made coming home not so painful anymore.

  15. How wonderful to see you, K. You will be an inspiration forever♥
    We just adore you, Shyla!

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

  16. Hi Y'all!

    What a beautiful moment.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  17. You post and video brought on a flood of tears this morning. Not a bad thing though. You've given me a wonderful reminder and renewed strength to keep choosing that light each day.

  18. I finally made Sam's tribute video, it was one of the toughest things I've ever done. I think Harlow is helping my heart the way Shyla is helping yours.


    Monty and Harlow

  19. A beautiful post that is a testament and celebration of the bond we share with our pups.

  20. Dear KB, This post brought tears to my eyes, especially after your comment about Moms. I have no doubt that those heart dogs who have departed, somehow share their spirits with the pups that join us after they leave us. I have felt that so many of my different pups have traits that come from those heart dogs. I also have felt, from the time you got Shyla, that she had some of K's traits. Shyla is lucky to have you find her. On another note-you must have been a toddler when you lost your mom...sending you warm hugs today!
    So thankful for you and the pups.

  21. K was such a special girl and her legacy of joy and hope in every moment is the greatest of gifts.

  22. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Can you believe that some people think we all are just dumb dogs? Wise peeps know better!

    Your Pals Who Turn 2-yrs. old Tomorrow,

    Murphy & Stanley

  23. Oh, man, that is just so heartwarming!! Just lookin' at Shyla and K...such happy happy doggies!! ♥ ♥
    Ruby ♥

  24. This is such a beautiful post- and every word of it is true,,,
    K was "a light" that shone for all of us- and still does.

  25. What a beautiful post. Nearly brought me to tears.

  26. Beautiful post, KB. I'm still too filled with grief to be ready for another dog. Even though I can see what Shyla means to you.

  27. You are such an inspiration! It shames me to think I can feel sorry for myself sometimes!

    I must strive harder to see the light!

    Thank you!

  28. You were on of our first blogs we started reading. We remember.
    stella rose

  29. That is so beautiful. A few years ago, both Zim and our Amber were diagnosed with cancer -- at the same time. Zim also had to see the dermatologist at the same time, for Zinc Responsive Dermatosis that just sprang up out of nowhere. I told her about his and Amber's diagnoses. She looked at me in a very understanding way and said that THEY didn't know they had cancer and the best thing I could do for them was to yes, get them treatment, but also to continue letting them live the way they wanted to. Zim made it through his surgeries and did very well. Amber had lymphoma and sadly did not make it through her chemotherapy. She was taken way before her time. But I am so thankful for that vet's kind, sage words.
    Trying to live life full of joy is sometimes such a challenge; we've had way too many losses at Ao4 HQs in the past few years. But we do need to focus on the JOY in life. Having said that, I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face.
    Sending you understanding hugs,

  30. Hi!

    I just stumbled upon your blog while googling for pictures (I want to make a beanie with a girl riding a mtb) "happy moutain bike girl" so one of the pics was of your (former) dog, with this beautiful scenery behind, and I was thinking: wow, that could have been my own blog, and Binna (my former chocolate lab girl) on the picture.
    I watched the tribute you made for K, and of course I cried since I lost my Binna just two years ago, to cancer :/
    I got myself a new one though, a huge chocolate lab boy.

    You see, I'm a blogger myself, so if you want to have a look at some pics of Binna (or Lukas) they are to find on (my old blog) or you can just follow the link by clicking on my name I guess.

    I found it so funny that you too have pictures of your four-legged buddies on the margin of your blog (like I do), and lots of your pics just remind me of me and Binna and Lukas (the classic self portrait with the wet tongue in the face, I love those), the running in the snow, the open and alert look on the dogs faces, their playfulness and comradeship...
    You are taking such great photos btw, mine are all taken with my cell phone.

    Just wanted to stop by and say hi.

    Greetings from snowy Norway from Imke and Lukas :)

  31. What a special moment. I often see glimpses of my deceased dogs in my current pack and it makes me think their spirit is still with me. I love reading about your chocolates and seeing their pictures because it reminds me of my chocolate baby, Sweet Sally Brown. She's been gone 4 years now, but her spirit lives strong. Thanks for sharing.

  32. This is an incredible moment and I thank you for sharing it. It's unbelievable how much dogs can teach us in the relatively short amount of time that they're with us.


If you are a Blogger registered user, you can skip the step asking you to verify that you are not a spammer. For posts older than 5 days, I have comment moderation turned on.

Thanks for your comments!!!!!