Saturday, August 26, 2006

Kobe - A Little Love Story

Kobe and DH together on the beach in Maine

I feel like all I've written and thought about for the past two days is how sad I am over the loss of Fatboy and Kobe...especially Kobe, because from the very beginning she was my little doggie. Now I want to write a happier story about them, and about her.

When DH and I got married, we acquired within the space of a month a new marriage, a new house and a new dog, Shasta. We were moving from NYC to the "wilds" of Dutchess County, NY, and I swore right off the bat that I wasn't about to live in a house in the middle of nowhere without a dog. We found Shasta, at North Shore Animal League, a wonderful no-kill shelter on Long Island, and adopted her three weeks before the wedding.

Shortly after moving, we realized that Shasta wasn't happy being the only dog in the house, and we started thinking about adopting her a friend. At about that time, my M-I-L told us about a pair of bulldogs she knew about. They had been living in the basement of a fish market for two years as the result of a puppy sale gone bad. M-I-L said that the owners were willing to give us the dogs if we wanted them.

DH and I were leery. Three dogs? We were debating over a mere two. But, I decided to go with M-I-L, just to look.

As soon as I saw the dogs, I knew I couldn't leave them there. They were living in a cage underneath a generator in a dank basement, being fed with leftovers from a Chinese restaurant and only allowed out into the basement itself at nighttime once the market has closed. The dogs hadn't been out of that basement in two years. We managed to lure Fatboy out of the cage with food and petting, but it was poor Kobe (then called BoBo) who really tugged at my heartstrings. She was so shy and so suspicious that even after an hour in that basement she would only venture as far as the edge of the cage. What really got me was that it was so clear that she desperately wanted to come out -- she just couldn't bring herself to. I've never seen such a pitiful thing before or since. I decided then and there that the two dogs would be DH's birthday present, whether he wanted them or not (and, of course, he wanted them, even if he didn't know it quite yet).

When we came back a week or so later to pick up the dogs, Fatboy let us put a collar on him and lead him upstairs on the end of a leash. Kobe, on the other hand, just plastered herself to the floor and refused to move. You would think that three adults could move a 40-pound dog...and you would be wrong. Both dogs smelled unbelievably bad, and there was only so close we were willing to hold either one -- carrying Kobe out of the basement by force, therefore, just wasn't an option. We eventually got her to sit inside a large cardboard box and rode her up and out of the basement on the conveyer belt. The whole time, she sat stoic and motionless with her head and shoulders up above the top edge of the box, just riding that conveyer belt to an outdoors she hadn't seen for two years.

Once we got the dogs home, we realized what a task we had undertaken. Neither dog was house trained, and they didn't even know what a house was. They were afraid of carpet. They barked in a frenzy at the ironing board and the Christmas tree. They didn't know how to walk up and down stairs. They absolutely refused to touch grass. It was a learning process for us all.

Fatboy adjusted pretty quickly. We realized over the years that he was truly our "live in the moment" dog. He wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but he had the biggest heart of all our dogs and was nothing but genuine heart and good feeling towards everyone and everything. Kobe, on the other hand, held onto every little hurt and kept it all stored up inside. She was a sensitive little soul, and she covered her hurts with a gruff exterior. I remember when she first came to us, she had this disturbing habit of sitting for hours just staring at the wall. She would sit just a foot or so in front of the wall with her back to the room and just stare. It was like she was deliberately isolating herself from the rest of us. I could only imagine what horrible things she was remembering about her life in the basement, or what she must have made of her new life in such different and probably overwhelming, frightening surroundings.

One of my happiest moments was watching Kobe outdoors in the yard, rolling around on the grass on her back. I remember thinking that she looked so happy, the very picture of joy.

Kobe's first time chasing sticks in the water

I remember her chasing sticks into the water when we all went on vacation to Maine. I remember her jumping up on her hind legs when she saw a treat or some food she really wanted. I remember her eating pizza crust. I remember when she first came to us and had a bad ear infection how I had to put medicine in her ears and rub them every night. She let me hold her on her lap and fondle her ears and I really think that more than anything helped her settle into her new life. She always loved having her ears rubbed. She would wake us up in the mornings by putting her face right up to ours and snorting -- "spitting" as DH called it. She would always stay up with the last person to go to bed; she would be sitting right here with me now as I type, and she wouldn't come to bed until I turned out all the lights and called for her. She loved to sleep on something soft but would always pee on it. She hated snow and loved to sit in on our yoga classes.

Kobe and DH doing yoga together.

I love all my dogs but somehow Kobe touched my heart in a different way, and I loved her all the more for it. I feel so guilty that in recent years I didn't have the time to spend with her that I used to. We got rid of our old couch, the one the dogs destroyed by sitting on it with us, and consigned them to the floor; no more snuggling with them by our sides at night. This last year and a half since the baby was born saw me paying more and more attention to her and less and less to the dogs. Understandable, the logical part of my brain says, but it hurts my heart to know that Kobe was there, waiting and wanting more. More ear rubs, more belly pats, more time just sitting close to the people she loved. She certainly had a better life than she had in that basement, but did she have the best life we -- I -- could have given her?

I know I wanted this to be a happy post, and it makes me happy remembering all the good times with my little Kobe; but it makes me sad, too, thinking of how I could have done more, could have made more of the time we had together. I'm so, so sorry I didn't.

I don't usually regret things. But I regret that.


Laritza said...

You did what you had to do and did it right. Your dogs where always there and knew/know how much you love them. They also know that you where there for them always. I love the yoga picture!

saka's spinning mom said...


You gave them an exceedingly fantastic life, especially compared to what they'd had before you came into their lives..... don't berate yourself, I have seen your babies, and I am certain that they both were comfortable in their love for and from you both.



ap said...

Splin: If I could wave a magic wand and take your hurt away. I would ~ I am extremely sorry. Really, really sorry.

I'm sending lots and lots of lovingkindness your way.


ap said...

Linda my dear - think for one second of Kobe fetching sticks in the water, of her rubbing her back on the grass - that is sheer happiness. You gave both her and Fatboy the best life they could have had - and for that, they loved you.
Rest assured, the love you gave her (and Fatboy) is more than they could have ever (ever!) imagined when they were caged up in a stinky basement.

Blogmaster said...

How heartbreaking to lose both Kobe and Fatboy - and so close together...

Thanks for posting such lovely pictures and memories

Dani said...

OK, with tears streaming down my face this may not be the most coherent post ever but it is from the heart.

Your Kobe and Fatboy were given something way beyond their expectations - LOVE. You showed them both that life wasn't always cruel and they found joy in being with their people. You have NOTHING to feel badly about, in either their life, or their passing.

I lost my 17 yr old cat to a sudden onset tumor, just over 2 years ago. He was a shelter adoption at just 6 weeks old. He was my best buddy, and as I have said many times, he was in my life longer than many people. The bond is real and the impact you all had on each other is something to be celebrated! We are the lucky ones, to have known that unconditional love. It wouldn't hurt so bad if it hadn't meant so much...

I know the words can't make it go away, but all the memories you shared with us, and even those you kept just for you, CAN and WILL help you begin to heal. We both know it never goes away, but with time, taking those memories out and enjoying them becomes more of a happy moment and less of a painful reminder of loss.

Wishing you comfort...