“Kaya’s Legacy,” by Jan Canavan

By Guest Contributor November 7, 2016 16:17

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Kaya

Kaya

Kaya’s Legacy

By Jan Canavan

Two dogs were perfect…or so we thought…until the day Kaya showed up on our doorstep.

She’d been hanging around a nearby neighborhood and our daughter, Robin, had seen her scavenging cat food in a yard there and told us about her; a skinny, hungry, beautiful lost soul.  “Can I please bring her home?” she asked more than once that week. We responded with an emphatic, “NO!  (And don’t argue!) We have TWO dogs already…two sweet, well-trained, happy dogs.”

Robin had recently acquired that fearsome (to every parent) certificate called a driver’s license. We were allowing her to use the Jeep on short jaunts around town while she put some miles on her driving experience…and it happened. She came home one afternoon and in the back of the Jeep was “the dog.” Into the kitchen came our daughter with a very skinny, beautiful, black and tan dog…both with hopeful expressions which had our hearts melting within seconds. Robin called her Kaya.

She was maybe a year old and so starved for attention, as well as nourishment, that we figured someone must have abandoned her. But why? Although she didn’t know a thing about living in a home with a family, it was obvious that she was special. We went through all the normal channels of advertising a found dog, somehow knowing (and hoping) an owner would not come forward.  We had a call from some people in the Valley who thought it might be their lost dog. They drove all the way to what I know they were hoping would be a joyful reunion. When they walked in the door and saw Kaya their faces fell. They had been so hopeful, they said…the description could have fit. As their hopes died, our lives embarked on nine years of blessings. We were a three-dog family!

Kaya on the job as a therapy dog

Kaya on the job as a therapy dog

Our other dogs accepted Kaya, seeming to understand how desperate she was for love and shelter. It seemed to take a very long time for her to gain weight and begin to understand the concept of “play.” In fact, in her entire life, she never really did play like other dogs; it must be something they learn as puppies…something she missed growing up. But when she finally regained her health, Robin took her to obedience classes where she learned her doggie abc’s!

She was a constant companion to all of us. She often could be found curled up with one of the cats. She loved our walks, and running along with us on horseback rides, and she would get so excited about going horse-camping. She always knew a couple of days beforehand, just from the preparations going on. Once there, she always stayed close by, only occasionally visiting a neighboring camp when their campfire fragrances were too enticing to ignore. I had an old wool army sweater which shrunk in the wash, and she wore that sweater in the mountains on many a chilly night.  She loved to sleep in the tent with us. Some nights we’d be sitting by the fire and Kaya would go and sit by the tent entry, as if to say, “Please unzip the door…I’m ready for bed!”

canavan-kaya-full-face-editedWhen Robin went off to college, Kaya and I found a new avocation. She became a certified therapy dog (Therapy Dogs International), and we  spent many hours visiting nursing home patients.  Her visits were special to so many people. Her head was right at lap level, and her eyes melted many hearts and brought smiles to many lonely faces. She was a big dog with a big heart.

Some years later, after a tearful goodbye to our eldest dog, we decided we were used to being a three-dog family, and we took Kaya to the shelter to help pick out a new sister. We came home with a border collie we named Abbey. Now we had three rescued dogs, each very special in her own way. Little did we know then that Kaya’s time with us would soon be over. During the next few short months Kaya helped Abbey learn the joys of “life after abandonment.”

When the day came for us to say goodbye to Kaya, she passed her legacy on to Abbey who became a certified therapy dog and continued Kaya’s work, bringing smiles to many hearts, young and old.

By Guest Contributor November 7, 2016 16:17
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