Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

The thing about Katie


Dearest Katie,

The thing is, I thought you’d live forever. For so many months during your last year we thought we had it figured out. We were a great team, you, me and your daddy, on a strict schedule of meals and pills and head rubs. You were so good about eating the food you didn’t love, taking your pills in peanut butter, going outside to do your jobs so we could photograph and analyze your poo, even coming out of the bedroom in the middle of each night on your own to get your blue pill from your dad, right on schedule.

Until suddenly it didn’t work anymore.

And now when I wake up in the early morning, not because you’re huffing at me to go outside, but because the morning light shines in my eyes, my face is wet with tears and my very first thought is of you. And when I go to sleep at night, not because you insist it’s time to go to bed, but because I’ve worn myself out, my face is damp with tears and my last thought is of you.

And all through the day, when I glance out into our yard, where you lay on a blanket in the shade of a tree under blue skies with white puffy clouds and a soft early summer breeze, my eyes fill again. Sometimes I go stand out there, the place you left us, and silently call for you. I want you to come home. My head is filled with your lasts. Last walk, last time sleeping in the tent, last time at your park, last….everything.

But that’s not what I want to remember.

I want to remember all the wonderful things you did, we did together. I want to remember your days of running with a big grin on your face, and all the thousands of times you posed for a picture, and your joy in meals and ice cubes, and how you loved to catch snowballs and frisbees and run through tunnels and leap over legs and jumps and just how joyful you were, how very ready to go on the next adventure. Always ready.

You remember, don’t you, Katie-girl, how you weren’t sure you wanted to come home with daddy and me when we first met you? How you hid behind a chair when you were left alone with us for a moment that day we went to pick you up? How I came and got you and held you and you snuggled your head into my neck and in that instant you were ours. And we were yours.

Do you remember that first night at home? When you were so exhausted by all the change that you fell asleep upside down on the sofa? You were so tiny. But when you woke up you were a little tornado, always into something. If I didn’t know where you were, if you were quiet, I knew for certain that you were doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing. And loving every sneaky moment of it.

I was in graduate school and you didn’t allow me to read. Your entire life I called you my anti-reading dog because you always felt that if I sat down I should be focused on you. You napped while I did chores, washed dishes, clothes, or cleaned. If I was moving then all was right with your world and you’d settle in on one of your many beds and watch me until you fell asleep. But if I sat down, then all bets were off and I should be playing with you. No reading allowed.

And when you were young, if you really wanted attention and I was ignoring you, perhaps reading on the sofa, you’d leap up, walk up my body, stand with your little feet on my chest and bark at me. The only thing that kept you from continuing to bark was if I massaged your shoulders. You loved that. Your little feet would begin to hurt me, and I’d move you slightly as I massaged, but you’d move your feet right back, insisting on more attention.

As you got older we did more things together. Remember how much you loved doggie school? Even when we were doing obedience and you got bored with all the heeling and sitting and standing and waiting and coming, you still loved school. Mostly because of the treats. And, of course, all the attention you got because you were so beautiful. Everybody loved you. Everybody wanted to give you treats, but you’d only take treats from me. You’d sniff their offerings and then, as a true Princess, you’d turn your head away. You broke so many hearts, little girl.

You got your CD title in AKC and your Rally Excellent, and then we both retired. You weren’t excited about competing, all that waiting around, and your mom couldn’t get those rally signs down anyway. Your job was to follow mama around the ring, not your fault if mama couldn’t read. You tried a bit of agility, but didn’t like waiting for your turn. A princess, should, always go first, right? Plus there was the scary teeter, and don’t even talk about that chute thing!

And then your mama introduced you to scent work. Man, you loved that game! Sniff a box, get a treat! How perfect was that. You loved, loved, LOVED going to scent work school! You couldn’t wait for it to be your turn, you pulled on your leash the entire evening, begging your mama to let you get into the ring and find the right box! I felt bad that we didn’t pursue it further, little girl, you loved it so. But we were traveling more, remember? That made up for missing classes, right?

Remember all the camping trips in northern Michigan sweetie? All those walks under towering pines at Hartwick Pines, or along the beaches of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron? I never got you up the Lake Superior, but those waves might have made you nervous anyway. You weren’t sure about waves at all the first time we walked on the beach, and they were just tiny waves. Your ears went flat and you turned your back on them. Your face told me that my fantasies of walking my dog on the beach at sunset were not likely to happen. But later on, when you got more brave, you ran on the beach and barked at those old waves. You were set on protecting your mama from the danger they presented. Mama tried not to laugh.

And remember when we traveled to Alabama and you ran up and down the dock barking at the waves? You were so cute. You loved the Alabama house, with the air conditioning vents in the floor, perfect for cooling a sheltie tummy. You loved exploring Smith Mountain and the boat rides with your Uncle and Aunt. You loved sleeping on the deck overlooking your lake and napping in grandma’s chair by the big window. And you loved visiting friends, especially the farm with all the horses.

Remember visiting your Aunt’s house? She made you a special bed and you slept on it along with your new toy Mr. Porcupine. We went on long walks in brand new parks, and you got to sniff new smells in downtown Columbus along the riverfront. Why that walk was so long you got to walk in Georgia and Alabama before you made it back to the car!

And you loved running on the beach with your boyfriend Reilly and his dweeby brother Denny down in Florida, remember? You visited them more than once and you always had a wonderful time with them and their parents. The special treats you got while you were there were unrivaled! Let’s just say doggy ice cream was a hit. It was a special time in your adventurous life wasn’t it, girl.

You were lucky you got to meet so many people. Remember Ricky and Callie and their folks? How you had such a good time walking in the ravine, though you wouldn’t walk across that little stream, even after watching Ricky and his mom do it? You made me go back and carry you across, though the rocks were little more than damp. I guess it’s true a princess does not get her feet wet. And you made me carry you up the stairs at their house too. Repeatedly. You figured out how to go down stairs there, when Ricky showed you how, but you refused to go up. Silly little girl.

Sometimes we had adventures closer to home, remember? We’d meet people and go for walks in all sorts of parks. Remember your friend Deuce? We went for plenty of walks with him and his mom. We even went on one walk with him and his brand new little brother Ace. Ace was just a tiny bundle of fur and you were a mature girl of 13 or 14. You told him in no uncertain terms to back off, and he did. By then you were turning into quite the diva, but we figured you’d earned it.

You loved your walks with Queen Abby too. She was sedate like you, and the two of you ignored each other most of the time, except when the moms made you sit for a picture. Even then you didn’t want to sit too close together, you both knew about royal space requirements. But you sure enjoyed some wonderful walks together.

You had good walks with your friend, Peep, too. Lots of long walks in the woods, in all kinds of weather. Peep introduced you to one of your favorite parks in Holly Recreation, where we ended up camping so many times. We wouldn’t have even known about it if it weren’t for Peep explaining how great the park was.

And let’s not forget your time with your sister Payton! Two peas in a pod, you two. You only got to meet twice, but you both loved your walks together. In fact it was with Payton that you walked around Katie’s Park for the last time. You guys were so cute together, I’m glad we were able to spend time with Payton and her folks. I think they loved you too.

In fact, sweetie, I think that’s your legacy. Love. Everybody loved you. You had a huge fan club filled with people, most who never got to meet you. They all feel like they know you, they all loved you, and they all miss you. I know you’ve seen all the cards we’ve received in the mail, all the emails, all the comments on your blog, all the neighbors expressing their sadness.

We all thought you’d live forever, little girl. And I guess you will, just in another way. It’s been a month now. The longest month of my life. The shortest month of my life. I saw you out of the corner of my eye a couple nights ago, heading down the hall to the bedroom as the evening light dimmed. Just like normal, heading off to bed when it got dark, looking over your shoulder to see if I was coming. It was just a shadow, not really you. Or was it?

Come visit me again, sweetie. I take comfort in knowing you are up there with so many that love you, lots of your doggie friends, and members of our families. I know you’re just fine sweetie, no more achy hips, no more upset tummy. You’ve got all sorts of great treats to munch on, and snowballs and frisbees to catch, wonderful beaches to run on, and lovely woods to walk in with so many great smells it’s beyond description.

Watch for us at the bridge, baby-girl, because we’ll be looking for you, our beautiful Katie, when we get there someday. Your daddy and I miss you so much, we will always and forever be yours.

Run fast and free sweet Katie-girl, we’ll see you again one day.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

59 thoughts on “The thing about Katie

  1. hugs to you … we agree with every word… and the most with the first sentence… that’s really the thing….


  2. Writing through tears- what a beautiful tribute, what a girl, and oh that last picture ❤


  3. What a sad but sweet trip down memory lane. Your Katie girl had a beautiful life!


  4. A wonderful tribute to Katie girl, very sweet. I’ll admit that tear in my eye as I read…


  5. Wonderful tribute to an amazing friend 😢


  6. This is beautiful Dawn. “I thought you’d live forever.’ Me, too. ❤


  7. Such a beautiful tribute to your Katie-girl… We so want them to live forever but that’s an awful long time. Hugs to you 🙂


  8. Beautiful and perfect, just like Princess Katie! Thank you for sharing her joyous life with us. 🙂


  9. Thank you for sharing your beautiful Katie with us. She’ll live in our hearts forever.


  10. What a beautiful dog and such a heartfelt post! They DO live forever… in our hearts.


  11. Doggone it, Dawn — now my eyes are leaking! What a lovely tribute to our favorite princess, one she truly deserves. I love the photos you’ve chosen — ALL of them! — because they show what a pampered, treasured pup she was. Y’all gave her a fabulous life — don’t ever doubt that; I see news reports of pups abandoned and/or abused, and I just cringe. They should all be so lucky, to find a forever home where they’re loved and cared for! I’d tell you the first month after losing a pup is the hardest — that it will get better — but you’re not going to believe me. I wouldn’t have believed me either! But it’s true. Yes, I still miss Dallas every day (Monkey is no substitute, but he does keep me busy!) Hugs to you on this bittersweet day.


    • I hope it gets better, because this is pretty darn bad. I know it’s not like losing our folks, or siblings, (I went to a funeral for a distant family member yesterday, and so many people were saying condolences for Katie I started to feel guilty), but I sure miss my girl. The grief is real, that’s the truth.


  12. What a fabulous post and tribute. Your Katy sounds like our Ivy. She was the first dog our family got. She’s definitely slowed these last few years and I know one day her day will be here. I am not sure how we’ll handle it. I hope we are able to deal with it with the same grace you have. Hang in there and remember all the times she made you a better person. Peace.


    • Oh dear, I’m sorry your Ivy is slowing down. It’s hard to watch. The time just rushes by and you want to slow it down. You know all the advice about savoring the time you have. Same thing as you do with your kids I suppose. My grace is only online. Alone at home I ugly cry. A lot. But it’s starting to feel less stressful, though it will always be so sad. We were lucky to have her for 15 and a half years. I wanted 16 or 17…but I was lucky I got more than 10 or 7 that some people get. Thank you for your support. From Wicked…..I am changed for the good because I knew you.” that’s how I feel about having had her in my life.


  13. So many wonderful memories!


  14. Your words and your photos combine to make such a full illustration of a life well lived, although we know that this is just a peek into a few minutes of all those years. Often after my dogs have died, I swear I heard one trotting down the hall for some popcorn from the popper, or adjusting her position in the crate in the back of the car while we drove, or patrolling the shrubs around the perimeter fence… someone so alive doesn’t simply stop suddenly, although of course they do.


    • She was such a force in our lives, there’s a huge vacuum. But she’s still here. We didn’t put away EVERYTHING though I did give away a few things. We left her rug by the back slider there. I stand on it and look at the back yard and talk to her sometimes. Well. I talk to her all the time, wherever I am. She’s only answered once so far, but I’m sure she’ll stop in again.


  15. Oh my. This was tough for me. I’m crying for your loss, my own loss of Katie, for my long gone dogs, and for the two who I know won’t be with me much longer.

    These sheltie creatures sure know how to wrap themselves up around our hearts.

    What a great life you gave to Katie. She was so special, and you two were quite the duo. I hope next month is a little easier, and the grief a little less for you Dawn.



    • I am so sorry, Sara. You’ve known Katie for a long time, and I knew she’s about the same age as Oreo. I always hoped someday they’d meet, but that never really would have happened…we lived so far away, Oreo was so scared of strangers. I think of him often, and of Chewy of course…and of you and Jeff! I hope all of you have many more months and years together. Hugs.


  16. These first six months are the worse…I know I cried every day and my heart just ached. It still does and I still have the odd day where’s the tears still flow and it’s now two years. But every day you have to force yourself to think of one good memory and let that memory warm your heart again. It is hard …really hard but you will never stop loving her and never stop remembering.


    • I imagine the boys helped a lot. I don’t know what we’ll do without our girl. I cry at the drop of a hat all the time now. I figure it will eventually lighten up. Someday. I keep seeing things as I drive or on TV or on the internet that I think would be fun to take her to, and then I remember I don’t get to do that ever again. And I cry. The never again part is what’s so hard. She loved adventuring so much.


  17. Yes. You’ve expressed it all, and so beautifully. I couldn’t read it all in one sitting. Crying too hard. I cherish what you wrote because it allows me to see that I’m not the only one who feels like that about my dogs. Love for our furry companions never dies and so, they never die either. They go on, loving us, as we go on loving them, and I swear, the connection becomes even stronger, as time goes on.


    • I hope she stops by for more visits, and I hope I recognize them when she does. As she has said in numerous posts, sometimes her mama is a bit dense. I love her forever though, and she knows it.


  18. Hard to read but so beautiful. So many wonderful memories to keep your heart full.


  19. Quite the accomplished PRINCESS!
    The points you touched on made me reach back to NAK’s life with me -like NAPK’s not letting you read, NAK had a predetermined time I could speak on the phone before she would start letting me I WAS DONE and NEEDED TO ATTEND TO HER!

    I recall in her final day with me – we had a late in the day appointment for Peaceful Pet Passage to come to The Khottage – just reaching in to her fur and running my fingers thru it –

    I recall the morning of that day when we took our last walk – and told the neighbors as we passed them – the conversation wa had –

    NAK and I were thru so much together – and I had gotten trhu SO VERY MUCH before I had moved bacj with TADN – who gave me the okay to get a dog – and that dog became KHYRA –

    NAK enabled me to meet all of YOU – and grow thru the BLOG WORLD of friendship!

    The blog world had introduced us to Holly – and when she needed a new home because her mom Debbie left the earth, we brought her to PA –

    And when it was time for Holly to join Debbie, I was dogless for six months –


    Here is to YOU findking YOUR WILLOW!

    Phyll and Willow too!


    • Our last walk. I knew it was the last one. She wanted to go further than normal and I let her for a bit. We ran into a snapping turtle laying eggs by the side of the road and I let her watch for a bit. Then we headed home and she got tired and I carried her. Didn’t realize it then that that was the last time I’d carry her. We sat out front the last hour or two of her life, waiting for the vet. She barked at the trucks going by, but mostly dozed in the grass. It was one of her favorite things to do. When the vet arrived she was eager to go over and find out why some guy was parking in her driveway. She thought he smelled interesting. She walked into the house on her own. I didn’t even think at the time, but it was the last time she walked into her house. Then we went out the back door and she never came inside again. I’m glad I wasn’t conscious of any of that, wrapped up as I was in the paperwork and details of what was happening. My girl. I trust that she will bring us another dog to love when and if it’s time. She wasn’t much of a sharer, but she wanted us to be happy and she tried so hard to make us happy. So we’ll see.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. What a beautiful tribute to your gorgeous girl♥


  21. ❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️


  22. Hi Dawn, What a heartfelt happy, sad blog post. Someday you will see her again and I hope I get to meet her too! I loved her too…thanks to your photos and conversations about/with her, she was a wonderful companion and best friend for you and your husband. The grief is something you will carry for a long time, but it changes to become more accepting as time goes on. Sending you a hug! By the way I loved the toilet paper photo…that one made me smile…thanks for sharing!


    • Oh I hope you DO get to meet her. You’ll recognize her because she’ll be the one with the crown tilted over one ear. And mud on her feet and probably a bur or two in her tail. She was a tomboy princess. She might even be playing with your boy. Though she didn’t play all that much. She mostly sniffed and amicably walked along beside whoever her mama had matched her up with for the day. She liked everybody, as long as they didn’t sniff her behind. She was a little bit of a diva too.


  23. Love and laughter, given her face so often seemed to be laughing. What a sweet post, and sweet, too, to see her as not much more than a puppy.


    • She was a very very happy girl, always smiling. That’s how we knew when she wasn’t feeling good anymore…she stopped smiling. She was an ADORABLE puppy! Glad to share some puppy pictures here. It seems a lifetime ago that she was that little.


  24. Dawn, so beautiful! Your words, the pictures of beautiful Katie! But I am too choked up to write more in a comment. Hugs!!!


    • Thank you P.J. I know, it’s too close to home for you right now. She sure had a good time visiting your bookstore. So many good sniffs! Thank you also for the wonderful picture you took of the two of us. It’s one of my favorites. The image in this post of us sitting in the chair was down on Karen’s beach in Northport. I’m so glad I got to take her there.


  25. So hard, and yet so wonderful. That was beautiful, Dawn.


  26. This is such a beautiful tribute to Katie and to your love for her. Hugs. When you talk with Katie, please ask her to show Jake (our granddog) around. He crossed over on Saturday and I think he and Katie would get along well. He knows how to show respect to royalty (having lived his life with two cats who insisted on it).


    • Awwww Robin I’m so sorry. That will be hard on the littles in your family. And you and your children too. I will sure ask Katie to show Jake around. I know there is a lot to see there. She’ll keep him company She’s good company even if she is royalty. She doesn’t push herself on another dog, but she’s around if he has questions, or if he’s scared or lonely. Sending your family hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

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