“You cannot buy love…you can rescue it…and it will save you”
named him Kansas. My first and deepest animal love. He was THE rescue that changed our lives forever.
When my only sister Kathy lost her battle to cancer, my husband Gordon gave me a gift of healing. She was a beautiful black lab named Moxie. She was both fiesty and gentle, all wrapped in a shiny black fur coat, which she wore with pride…. She lived her entire life with us, sleeping next to my bed every night. When she “crossed the rainbow bridge,” my vet called to see how I was doing and if I thought about a new dog to fill the hole she left in our home.
From deep inside, a thought entered my mind, and I asked him to be on the lookout for a different type of dog . . . one that needed a forever family, was “down on its luck . . . but was . . . well, special.” I still do not know what prompted me to say that and it was so inconsequential at the time that I did not think anything further about the conversation. One day, many months later, my assistant said that Dr. King was on the phone, and he had found “my dog.”
I picked up the phone and he explained a large mixed breed had been found surviving off garbage. A lady had unceremoniously left him at his office, and the microchip implanted in his neck, led them to a home in Kansas, which was how Kansas came to be named. Later we learned that Kansas’s original owner had passed away while serving in the military overseas. Apparently, Kansas reminded the family of their loss, and it was “too much” to take him back. In my heart, I believe Kansas traveled the distance from Kansas to South Carolina looking for her . ..
“What does he look like?” I asked the vet. He sighed and explained that Kansas had been dipped for fleas and shaved because his hair was so matted, there was no alternative. He was recovering from heart worms but felt sure he would survive the treatment, if I was willing to invest in a series of injections.
Dr. King also knew I had a special needs adult brother who is frequently with us, so it went without saying that the dog would have to be gentle and kind. It was close to Christmas and my brother was coming to stay for the holidays so we decided Kansas would be his present. I wanted to meet Kansas before the “big day” when my brother would receive the finest gift of our lives. Suffice to say, from afar he was not impressive . . . old, gawky, straggly, and bone thin. Yet he was noble, sitting erect, with the gentlest demeanor and the wisest brown eyes I have ever seen. I fell in love instantly.
The day arrived for Casey, my brother’s visit. As we sat in the Smith Animal Clinic waiting room, an entourage from my office flanked Casey. We bought a bright red bow and a red collar for Kansas, implying he was Casey’s Christmas gift. The door opened to an eerie silence. Somehow, Kansas knew instinctively that Casey needed him . . . we all needed him eventually. Without any hesitation he walked directly to my brother and laid his head in his lap. Casey’s head was tilted downward but we saw tear droplets hitting Kansas’s shaved head . . . bouncing upward, one by one. I looked up and while our vet’s eyes were moist… tears were running down the faces of every person in the room. It is a memory we will share forever. Over time, as we cared and loved him; he grew into the most beautiful creature. For years he ran with me to work and would sit quietly on his couch as clients came and left, throughout the day. Many a Christmas card had our Kansas as the office mascot. And it was not uncommon for random people to stop by the office to give him treats.
But with every first chapter of the “book called life,” there is a final chapter. Kansas lived until his poor body could go no further. Ridden with arthritis and kidneys failing, our beloved vet said, “it was time.” It was heart wrenching to watch this beautiful, noble, being struggle and suffer so. On January 29th Dr. King came to our home. My dearest friend sat with me, as I held Kansas’s large, beautiful head in my lap, just as Casey had done years before. Our vet gave him two injections until he slept his way into heaven. It was peaceful and dignified.
I walked the vet to the front door and hugged him, thanking him for bringing such an incredible being into our lives. I returned to the sitting room and watched as Becky continued to stroke Kansas’s beautiful honey locks. I said, “Becky, honey he is gone…he can’t feel you petting him.” Tear streaked her cheeks, as she looked up at me “I know, Karen” she said, “but I can still feel him.”
Kansas stories could fill the pages of this magazine. He taught us unconditional love, and yes, how to die with grace, while also leaving a legacy of love. There are unending stories about pets like our Kansas, and it is my hope that through these pages you might be inspired to rescue an animal. They can change your life forever and teach you infinite lessons of love, loyalty, and hope . . . if you are only willing to risk falling in love, it will in turn save you.
This issue is dedicated to all animals seeking forever homes. ELYSIAN will continue the quest with leaders like Cathy Bissell, whose vision remains, “Until every pet has a home.”
Thank you for sharing the journey.