On December 11th, 2020, my Kara passed away. It was sudden, unexpected, and has affected me in ways I’ve just not been ready for. Part of my grieving process has always been to journal my thoughts. I’m guessing this is going to be that.

September 2020

I moved to the Bay Area from Los Angeles back in June 2014. Anyone who really knew me at the time knew how hard of a transition it was. I struggled not being around the people I left behind. I struggled connecting with my new local communities. I felt very alone and defeated. Before moving up here, though, I knew a dog was going to be an immediate addition to my life and soon after getting settled in, I started that search. Little did I know a month before my move, on May 10th, 2014, Kara had been born and was waiting to be found.

I knew I wanted a Doberman and it took a little time finding the right litter, but discovered one about 70 miles away to check out. Thirteen puppies made up of nine males and four females. When we finally went to check them out, eleven had been claimed and two females were left. One was a very happy, very approachable black/rust that immediately ran up to me for attention. “This is her,” was my thought, as she played with me on the grass, clearly excited to do so. Marie, though, focused more on the last pup. She was red/rust who was more subdued. Her tail had been docked too short, she had a small white star on her chest, there were these bright green eyes, and her ears were left floppy, all traits that Doberman owners actually try to avoid, but there was no denying she was absolutely beautiful. When picked up, she was still and seemed to like being held, but when put back down, you could definitely see her safe spot was back with her mom.

As I started settling in and remembering my research on choosing, it became clear the green-eyed red/rust pup with nub tail was coming home with us. We proceeded with the adoption on June 29th, 2014, picked her up, and started walking away. Upon doing so, she began to cry and continue throughout the car ride home as I sat and held her. This felt familiar. Moving from your comfort zone and into the unknown. Yeah, this felt all too familiar and I couldn’t help but feel sad and empathetic to her. She did calm down, though, and eventually fell asleep in my arms the rest of the way home.

After a couple iterations, I eventually landed on the name. Inspired by the little star patch on her chest, we called her Kara after the fictional character Kara Thrace because she was our little Starbuck. We quickly bonded her first year. She was so smart and intuitive. She knew when it was time for work, she played hard, and she was beyond affectionate. Personal space just doesn’t exist with Dobermans and Kara made sure there was none between us almost all of the time. It didn’t matter where I was because she was just always there… and I needed that.

First trip to the dog park, August 2014

This house I eventually moved into, there were a lot of things that helped make that transition easier, but Kara was a significant factor. When I would cry or was weary or felt conquered, she gave me strength. Whenever I felt lost and couldn’t find a way out of the dark, she’d lead me to light. She loved me so much and made sure I knew that every existing moment between us. And I loved her back more than I thought I was capable of at the time. I don’t believe unconditional love is something that can exist between two humans, but it absolutely happens between a fur baby and parent. She loved us all unconditionally.

1st birthday hike, April 2015

As the years went by, our family grew with two more kids, human ones this time, and Kara would continue bringing her spark and joy to us. She bonded quickly with Luke and those two got into a ton of trouble and adventures together. We’d all have our ups and down, but Kara was a constant whirlwind of support and never let you stay down for long. The house finally felt like a home, our family felt complete, and Kara was, without a doubt, the glue that helped keep it all together.

But she’s gone now and I haven’t known this house without her. The liveliness that use to fill the rooms seems dissipated. Everyone seems to be going through their own way of grieving. Marie is staying more positive than me, remembering all of the good times. She’s good at supporting me when seeing I’m down. Luke, unprovoked, mentions how much he misses her. He cites all the times she jumped in his bed and slept with him or how much “exercise” they got outside playing tag, noting she was way too fast for him. He asked a couple day ago about details on how Kara passed away. She died from a heart attack and immediately left, so he got the simplified version of that. I added that she just loved us so much, her heart couldn’t support her body anymore. He understood. Logan is far too young to know what’s happened.

This last week has been a blur. I can’t believe she isn’t here anymore. I just can’t believe it. She was right there and was her normal high-energy puppy self. I keep replaying all of the events leading up to finding her to see if there was more I could do to prevent it. I know there was nothing, but I can’t stop thinking about it. It was inevitable. This is just how it is with the breed. I’m still so heartbroken, though.

I have regrets, too. They are there for us through everything. Everything. Without fail, they are there. One of the only things we need to do to repay them is to be there in the end so they don’t have to cross the bridge alone. We help them finish their journey. I found her after she was gone, though. I wasn’t there. She crossed by herself laying down in the grass. I just wasn’t there. I will carry that regret with me for the rest of my life. I’m so sorry, Kara. You deserved more and I have a debt to you that will never be repaid. I’m so sorry, girl.

She burned so bright for the six years she was with us and left way too soon. I always told myself I just can’t see her growing up. That she was just too silly to every be old. I guess I was right. She was the goofiest, most childish, yet somehow gentle pup around. So intelligent and loyal. Above all, I don’t think I’ve never met a more affectionate dog in my life. She was just the perfect companion. I know she knew how much she was loved and, oh boy, did she know I was a complete sucker for her and how to take advantage of it. She knew exactly how big a part of the family she was. I hope she understood how essential she was to keeping me safe and sane all these years. I tried my best to give her a life filled with love and affection. I don’t know what to do without her and really hope the memories we had together eventually bring me some sort of peace.

You were such a good girl, Kara. I miss you so much.

Bridge Over Troubled Water, Johnny Cash