Five years and five days after her best buddy Sa’vich crossed the Rainbow Bridge, our sweet Kazha went to find him again. It had gotten as hard to see her struggle as it was to imagine life without her. So, with compassionate care and deep grief, we helped her make that crossing. And we are deeply grateful in the gentleness and care with which Dr. Nicole and Caring Pathways helped to make it a peaceful process for our girl in the comfort of the home she loved.

She came to us after having been abused and dumped, adopted, abused again, and dumped again. When we met her at the Buddy Center, she immediately dropped her head in Dave’s lap, begging for pets. She was scared, cowed, and badly shaved, and wanted nothing but love. She didn’t know how to play, but she did know how to cuddle and kiss and beg for never-ending pets.

Over time (and with some good grooming, which she hated but which made her feel so sassy when it was done), she bloomed into our sweet girl. Kazha especially adored the snow and long walks and being loved. She would grab our hands with her paw and push them to wherever she wanted to be petted. Nevertheless, she did have her independent streak. If we weren’t petting her, she’d find a quiet, cool place to hide away and doze.

A few years later, we brought home Sa’vich, who became her best friend and wrestle partner, her true love. They had such great times together, it broke her heart when he died far too young. She alternately clung to us and hid away even more. Older and a little slower, she never warmed up to her new, deaf, anxious brother Blaze the same way, but they got along well enough. There have been sweet moments between them.

A couple years ago, Kazha started showing signs of dementia, along with arthritic stiffness in her legs. She’d stand and stare out, trying to remember what she was supposed to do. “What is this stuff in front of me? Oh, food. Maybe… oh, yeah! I’ll eat.” We weren’t sure she’d make it through 2019. We were certain she wouldn’t make it through 2020. We were amazed when she did, still loving her pets and her snow and especially, by then, her long, sleepy days in a sunny yard.

A couple months ago, she started eating less and less. We knew then this time was coming, but that doesn’t ever make it any easier. It’s the first time we have had a dog who lived out her life to old age, in grace. She came to the end of an amazing 16 years, 13 of which we were lucky to share. She still grasped our hands the night before and the morning of her journey, begging for our love, even though she couldn’t stand up on her own and was wobbly when she walked.

As a friend of ours said that sad morning, dogs remind us that love is not a human invention. Kazha embodied that heart and soul. She was the sweetest dog ever.

Fluffer-Nutter, Fluff Bomb, Floof Bear, Snow Dog, Bear Dog, Puppy Face, Tappy Tail, Kazha Bear, we love you. Find Sa’vich—he’ll be there with you and you’ll play and play, with your pain and fogginess all gone.

We can’t follow you yet, but we walked beside you as far as we could, to your last breath here on earth. We’ll meet up again. And you have all our love, precious girl. Always.