On Saturday, Aug. 3 a Peru K-9 officer and his dog were responding to an armed robbery at a Verizon Wireless store north of Peru. The officer was involved in an accident which resulted in the death of his K-9 companion, Kali. You may have read our coverage of the death and memorial last week.
Later, after the initial article about the accident and robbery, when we were talking about the memorial service held for Kali and the amount of respect she received from her handler, the Peru officers and police officers from all over, I lost it. I started to cry at the loss of this dog who I never knew. But it was the reminder of losing someone so dear that hurt.
I grew up with dogs. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have a furry brother or sister. They were always there. Always ready to love, unconditionally. I have had five fur-siblings, a fur-niece and fur-nephew, and I hope someday to have my own fur-baby.
The dogs in my family are more than just dogs; they are family members. They went on vacation with us; they took care of us when we were home from school sick; they were there to mend broken hearts and hurt feelings; they were there to remind us that all is not lost in this world.
We had three Brittanys: Missy, Bret and Teaser, and two black Labrador Retrievers: Buddy and Tucker. Teaser was the one I was closest to. I was only a toddler when we got him as a puppy. Do I remember much of those early years? No. But I do remember, as a child, he would come rescue me when I was being tickled by my daddy and older brother, Shawn. He would come up and start licking them in the face until I was able to escape. He would climb up on the couch with me when I was sick and just lay there while I watched whatever was on TV. Often times, I would fall asleep knowing I was protected.
Teaser lived a long and joyous life. Ultimately at the age of 14, he died. Daddy, Mama, Shawn and I all gathered at the veterinarian’s office to say our good-byes. We knew we were going to cremate him, so Mama gave him a rolled up pair of socks because he liked them as a puppy, and I gave him a blue summer dress I had worn often as a little girl, so that he would know he wasn’t alone. After our good-byes, Mama ushered Shawn and me out of the room, and Daddy stayed with him until the end.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck our family two years later when we found out Buddy, who was only 3 years old at the time, had cancer. We did everything humanly possible to help our family member. Within a few weeks, he was admitted to Iowa State University’s Veterinary Hospital to undergo an amputation of his right hind leg. We hoped that it would be enough to save him and stop the cancer from spreading. Less than a month later, my parents were driving back and forth to Ames, Iowa, for his chemotherapy treatments. Again hoping that our loveable Buddy would survive. By the end of that summer, we got the news the cancer had metastasized and all we could do was give him all the love in the world until he died.
My parents made the hard choice in the fall to put him down. Again, we all went to the vet’s office. My parents had called Shawn, who was attending the University of Iowa at the time, and told him to come home. When I came home from school for lunch, we left for the office. This time instead of leaving him a child’s dress and socks, he took his favorite toy with him. And instead of leaving him alone with Daddy, we all stayed until the end. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone who has been there with you through all the ups and downs of life, whose sole purpose was to give unconditional love.
I wish to express my deepest sympathies to the Peru Police Department and to Officer Art Smith, who lost his partner. The loss of a dog is hard, but the loss of a friend, family member and confidant can be almost unbearable. I am truly sorry for your loss.
BCR Copy Editor Sarah Maxwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.