In December 2004 I was at my Christmas staff party. I was waiting for my then boyfriend to come who had been stuck at work. I took my phone out of my bag to see if he had texted/called. I listened to my voicemail. I did have a message from him that he was on his way, but I also had a message from a friend of ours, RJ who had recently got a golden retriever puppy. In the voicemail RJ said, ‘He had another female golden retriever puppy at his house who was in need of a home. Were we interested?’ I wasn’t sure why he had another puppy, but I got very excited and of course immediately wanted to meet her. We called them back and went over to the house right after dinner.
When we arrived at our friends’ house, we walked up the stairs full of excitement, anticipating what this puppy would be like that we were about to meet. We walked in to the kitchen and there she was. She was a beautiful golden red color with big brown eyes. As soon as she looked up at me my heart melted. After a few minutes of us gushing over her, talking in that weird baby voice that we all swear we will never do, we sat down at the kitchen table to find out some more information about this little three-month old beauty whose name was Kayla.
“RJ told us he had received a call from the breeder the day before asking him if he could go rescue Kayla. The breeder was not able to get in contact with the family and was concerned that something was wrong. RJ agreed to go get the puppy. When he arrived at the house, he went inside and found Kayla sitting alone in a corner. The woman who owned the house was a single mom with three young girls. The house was filthy. Kayla was dirty and had gum matted in her coat and was not she being fed.”
As I was listening to RJ tell the end of the story I looked over to find Kayla nestled up asleep in my then boyfriends’ lap. She came home with us that night. We also changed her name to Kaia. Over those first few weeks Kaia slowly began to reveal little bits of her personality and being a new parent, I had no idea what I was doing. On Boxing Day a group of us had gone for a big hike. It was dark by the time we began to head home. Kaia was in the back seat wrapped up in a towel, but she was cold so she walked up to the front seat and crawled in to my lap. In that moment I bonded with her in a way that I hadn’t yet. Nor did I know in the months to come how she would forever change my life, and I hers.
Over the next few months we had moved and I had begun to realize that my relationship was not working. That Spring my relationship came to a tumultuous end. A few days after the breakup, I began to notice that Kaia’s eyes looked weird. She was blinking a lot and it looked as if her eyeballs were beginning to lodge out of her eye socket. I took her to the vet right away. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her and sent me over to the Animal Critical Care Group. Kaia knew that something was wrong and kept hiding under my legs. I was an emotional disaster to say the least. With my relationship ending and now the possibility that I might lose her too. I couldn’t bare the idea of it. They ran a bunch of exams including an ultrasound of the eyes. They concluded that she was suffering from one of two things: Extraocular Muscle Myositis or Retrobulbar Tumors.
Extraocular Muscle Myositis is a rare inflammatory disorder of single or multiple extraocular eye muscles, but it would treatable with a drug called Prednisone. Retrobulbar Tumors are tumors that formed behind the eyes. If it was cancer there wasn’t much I could do. I did not have the money, and at that point it would also be pretty advanced so that means there wouldn’t be much that they could do either. After a few more tests results they were able to confirm that it was Extraocular Muscle Myositis. I was thankful because this disease could be cured with the treatment of a strong drug. From there, the real journey of Kaia and I began.
Within a day she had had an amazing reaction to the Prednisone. I, once again was thankful to the universe. Throughout the next couple of years we were in and out clinics. She was always puffy. She would get brown patches or rather lesions on her skin, not to mention constant diharrea, sometimes vomiting. To meet her, you would have never known. I was living in Vancouver at that point. I would take her to the beach every day sometimes twice. Regardless of what time of year it was she would be in the ocean swimming to find her bright orange ball only to be curled up by my side hours later. This dog of mine has an undeniable everlasting spirit.
After being on the Prednisone for close to three years, my vet at the time decided that it would be good to lower her dose significantly so that we could slowly move her off of the drug. I was shocked. I thought that she would have to be on this steroid for the rest of her life, and as much as I was excited, I was terrified. Once again though, Kaia responded amazingly! Over the next few months her dose was lowered until the vet decided she was good to stop taking the drug altogether. She was three years old, she is now nine, and she has never had to go back on Prednisone. She is a healthy middle-aged dame rocking it out every day!
Some of the things that I love about her daily; she smiles at people. She is extremely vocal. People have asked me over the years what is wrong with her, why does she cry like that, ect ect. I have always encouraged people to speak their truth; I guess Kaia caught on. Or, as my friend Dawn used to say when people would ask those questions, ‘Kaia can’t help it. She’s the daughter of an actress!’ It’s true, she is. I refer to her as my magic little pony. She doesn’t walk down the street but prances with her head always held up high. I love when she looks up at me with her big brown eyes. That when I put The Cure on she knows it’s go time, and as I begin to let my freak flag fly dancing like a crazy person she is right there with me. Although as I have said to her many times, she gets a little carried away. Who mosh’s to The Cure? Apparently, she does.
I love that every time I get on my yoga mat to practice she thinks this is the best idea ever and proceeds to lay directly across the mat underneath me as I am in downward dog. My dog makes me laugh. When I am sick or having a bad day she will not leave me for one second. For all of this, for her I am thankful. She is a dog. She is my dog. She is Miss Kaia always.