This is the story my signifcant-other wrote about “Kirah”, one of our many rescues. We have been involved in rescuing dogs for many years.

Our sweet Kirah was ushered to the Bridge, Sunday, March 17, 2002. She was in a lot of pain and x-rays revealed a new tumor near the top of the bone in her one, remaining front leg. And that was that. One x-ray showed the whole top of the bone to be filled with a tumor.

My vet left the room and came back with a syringe with a sedative in it and told me I would have a few minutes with her before he came back with the final injection. All discussion amounted to a simple, “She’s in a lot of pain, isnt she?” And his reply, “Yes”. “There is nothing else to do, now, is there” and the known reply, “No”.

Sweet Kirah licked my tears away before she dozed off. The look in her eyes said that she was ready to go. She seemed to be facing the Bridge with the same spirit and anticipation that she faced all of her hurdles with:

One last fence between her and that final freedom from pain and uncertainty and her reunion with the Source of that unconditional love she carried and shared her whole, short life.

I wasn’t ready. An xray and the stark reality of tumors came too fast. But Kirah was ready and that can be the only thing that matters. She was in so much pain that there was no question of trying to hold out for her dad, a long-haul trucker, to get back this week.

I brought her home and my son got a couple of friends to make her final resting place. We laid her by the fence, facing the fence where she loved to hold her little ‘barkfest’ visits with the dogs next door. As we were nearly ready, Sherrie let her dogs out next door and Bear and Mattie and Sheba barked their farewells to Kirah through her fence.

Then she came over with her little daughter and my friend who’d been taking care of Kirah for us those last three days came over and with her dad on the cordless phone, we laid her to rest, a rose tucked inside her blanket. And even then, the swelling was soft and pliable as you’d expect, not hard like this lump that came out between Thursday and Sunday.

Kirah was always a great ‘talker’. A notorious ‘talker’. She loved children more than anything. During the year she spent in Norman Park, GA, after failing her screening for drug dog school and being adopted by the woman who’d first found her on the internet, up for adoption in WA, Kirah lived with her and went to work daily, unofficial greeter at their small city hall where most of all, she made sure that any children coming in were properly kissed and talked to. She was a one-dog canine community affairs officer.

So great her love of people. That lack of aggression was what caused her to bomb out in police training in TX after having been imported from Germany, no taste for the sleeve at all. And that set off the chain of events that landed her next in Spokane, WA with a woman who didn’t really want her and put her up for adoption after her father had sent Kirah to her as a surprise “gift”.

We never did know what happened to land her in the kill shelter there in Spokane. But Janis, in GA, had already been discussing her with the owner. Suddenly, Kirah was in an Animal Control shelter and had five days to live. This is where Kirah first came into our lives, when the GA lady found (rescue transport list) RollingRescue and made a plea for help in getting Kirah off death row and to GA.

One look at that beautiful face and I got a hold of people we knew from past transports in CA and they got ahold of people in WA and OR and soon Kirah was safe at the Spokane Humane Society. A woman from ID fetched her to Portland, OR on a business trip and people there fostered her until Mike, her future dad, got into Portland. LOL, and Kirah taught Fence Management 101 to the foster mom’s dogs.

The woman was surprised one day, while unloading groceries, to find herself surrounded by Kirah and her own dogs whom she had left in her fenced in yard. Until Kirah showed them how to open the gate, that is. Then Mike arrived with the big truck and brought her back to Michigan where she caught another trucker headed south to GA.

So many people, strangers, working together to bring a new drug dog candidate to a small town police dept in southern GA. This was my first real exposure to the amazing dedication of the rescue network that moves unwanted dogs from shelter to foster and on to new lives. I knew the transport end well, but had never been involved in trying to arrange an actual shelter pull and foster situation.

And each one who helped Kirah, fell in love with her. You couldn’t help it. Especially, the truckers who spent days with her on the road. Mike’s daily reports were funny. Kirah loved kids so much. He stopped at one truck stop and took her out in the morning to potty. He was taking her and Beethoven over to the fence to show them some Buffalo, but just then a bus had pulled up to the resturant and a load of tourists were getting off.

Kirah spotted one child amongst them and went flying off to deliver her kisses. The tourists, of course, did not realize this was four footed love speeding towards them and as she zeroed in on the kid, with Mike running and calling behind her, these poor people about had a heart attack at the sight of the German Shepherd barreling at them, until she arrived and sat down before the child and delivered her payload of love and kisses.

The other thing he discovered Kirah loved, was the water. In CO she lept into a cold mountain stream, surprising even herself and then stood on a rock in mid stream for a long time before she took the plunge back into the cold water to come back to shore. Possibly the only time she ever showed any regret at spashing into a body of water.

Somewhere else along the way, as Mike waited overnight to deliver, she took off into a pond on the edge of a parking lot, enticing Beethoven, the trucking terrier, to follow her. We were on the cell phone at the time and our conversation was suddenly interrupted as I heard “Kirah, NO, Kirah, Come, Nooooo.” Followed by sounds of splashing and then “Beethoven, NO, Beethoven come back here”, and more splashing. (Beethoven is the truckin’ Terrier who accompanies Mike on the road.) I was still on the phone with him when I heard a commontion and Kirah’s legendary talking. Kirah had just climbed through the open truck window to rejoin him, dripping all over the passenger seat.

By the time they reached Michigan, Mike had already announced that if anything ever happened and Kirah did not work out as a drug dog and needed a home, she should come back to us. He was hooked.

In Georgia, after they discovered that she had no ball drive whatsoever and Janis adopted her for her own, Kirah continued to amaze people. The first thing they noticed was that she could not be contained. Fences were not a problem for Kirah. The first time Janis left Kirah in her kennel at home to go to work and had one of the officers stop by to check on her, they called to say, “yep, she’s fine, sitting on your front porch, where do you want me to put her?”

Janis built the kennel up two or three times, but Kirah was not happy at home alone. And thus, Kirah’s career as the city hall greeter dog was born. And for a year she was thus employed, spending her days laying behind Janis’ desk, waiting for kids to come in.

When a family crisis came up, it was no longer possible for her to keep Kirah and remembering Mike’s statement, she contacted us. By April last year, Mike was headed home from the west coast when a change in loads resulted in his going down into GA, enabling to pick Kirah up and back to the West Coast before ultimately bringing her home to us.

Kirah loved to ride. She would have made a great road dog, but for the fact that she didn’t like being left behind. Just as she scaled fences, she didn’t think too much of truck window screens. Mike finally brought Kirah home along with two sets of truck window screens and both had perfect Kirah-shaped holes in them. She would always be waiting for him when he came back to the truck, but she’d be waiting outside, on the ground, where she prefered to be.

She had her last great swimming adventure back in OR. Kirah loved the water. On a potty break in OR, in an isolated stretch of beach near the OR port of entry scales, she jumped into a lake to chase a flock of geese. Mike watched as she swam and swam, wondering if he was going to have to go get her. Wondering if he could swim that far. She came back, not even breathing hard.

Kirah only had a short few months between coming back home to Michigan and the diagnosis of osteosarcoma, which required the amputation of her right front leg. But her amputation meant nothing to her. She was up and going as soon as the drugs wore off. Hopped up the stairs coming home and then the bed and then the couch. LOL, the new used couch that was going to be off limits to the dogs. Well, okay, Kirah, off limits to four legged dogs.

I took her fishing with me after one of her post surgical check-ups and she was extremely irritated that I would not let her jump in and chase ducks. And then, the fence. I was shocked the first time the next door neighbor brought her to the front door after she’d cleared the fence to go and greet her. How could a three legged dog clear a fence?

But, this was Kirah and there was someone on the other side of the fence that she liked a lot. Of course she jumped the fence. Silly me.

She went right on being the bossy big sister to Queper, Frankie and Yahoo, barging in between them when she thought their play too rowdy. Taking Yahoo by the neck and pushing him to the ground when he ignored “Kirah says stop”. And still, chasing an occasional cat when the opportunity presented itself.

And this was Kirah’s life after diagnosis and chemo. For almost nine months. Perfectly normal for Kirah. I didn’t mean to give Kirah’s whole life story, short as her life was. But, so many things intertwined, in Kirah’s life. So many people. From Germany to TX to WA to GA to MI, a score of people helped with Kirah’s rescue and fell in love with her along the way.

And then, after her diagnosis, even more people, some of them rescue friends and some of them strangers, from coast to coast, who helped raise the money for her treatment. Something we could never have done without their help.

And now, slightly less than a year after Kirah came back into our lives, she has gone to the Bridge. Too much love for the police work she was bred for. Too little time for the therapy work we hoped to do with her and her love of kids.

As I said, I didn’t mean to write her life story. But those doubts that plague us, after we’ve taken the treatment path and it ends far short of the extra years we’d hoped to give her that, in the end, amounted to nine months, those doubts are, perhaps, inevitable.

And the sadness over a life so full of change and turmoil, one of the things that has always haunted me with Kirah. All the changes she went through. She was clearly born to work, only too late did anyone realize what kind of work she was met for. She would have made a great therapy dog. And with her three legged status, she would have been uniquely qualifed, it seemed. It all seems such an injustice.

But in the end, thinking about all of the people in Kirah’s life who returned Kirah’s great love of people, perhaps this was Kirah’s mission in life, bringing people together, spreading her message of love. An ambassador for GSDs and rescue dogs, everywhere she went, everyone she touched.

And, having written this, much longer than I meant it to be, I have answered my own questions. Kirah enjoyed and deserved these last nine months. Her life wasn’t necessarily the one we would wish for a dog, with so many changes, but we have to try and trust God’s process. What seems like too much uncertainty for dogs and humans to bear, perhaps is not without the certainty of His plans, which we may never fully realize or understand.

All I can say, to all of you, all over the country, in the rescue and transport circles and on the Caninebonecancer list and beyond, who’ve helped so many times, in so many different ways, is a simple Thank You.

That is a heartfelt understatement.


Laurel & Mike from MI