Dear Miss Zora,

My dearest Zora… where to begin?

You entered our home as a clumsy, little fur ball whose legs were too long for your body. I loved you instantly. Even as a puppy, you are such a good dog, minus the fact that my armchair and ottoman are missing some corners. You sleep in our bedroom every night without incident, patiently spend time in your crate while we’re away at work and spend hours staring our the window to make sure the house is safe.

Thank you for making sure I’m protected at night while daddy is away for work or hunting. I no longer have to worry about all that goes bump in the night because I know you’ll probably lick ‘em to death. I love being woken up to your face on my pillow every morning, even when it’s before my alarm goes off. I love your kisses and hugs and when you spoon with me during TV time.

Adopting you during our first year of marriage is great practice for kids someday. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a tad OCD. Toys and blankets all over the floor from one end of the house to the other tests my patience sometimes. Just because I pick up a toy and bring it to your basket, doesn’t mean you immediately have to get it back out. Just sayin’. Even your nose artwork on my sliding door, my chewed up underwear and shredded fleece blankets are constant reminders that you’re so very special to me.

I don’t know what I would do without you. I’d probably still be talking to myself in an empty house, making excuses why I shouldn’t go out and run and feeling like something was missing in my life. I love you so much and can’t imagine a life without you and your crazy ears.

I may have rescued you, but you rescued me as well.

Dear Dakota (a goofy and adorable people dog),

Dakota. What can I really saw about you?

In 2008 I was volunteering at an animal shelter. I fell in love with pretty much every dog I walked. After finally convincing my mom that we should get a dog, I put in an adoption application. Once my application was approved, I got a call from the woman who runs the shelter. They had just gotten the perfect dog in for me! YOU!

Enter Dakota-a skinny, goofy looking, Husky/German Shepherd dog. You instantly won my heart and even managed to win over my mom. I brought you home that day and you instantly felt at home, even snagging a spot on my bed. Apparently you were too good for the dog bed on the floor. You also decided you were too good for the food they fed at the shelter, and refused to play with any of the toys you had while there.

You quickly became my best friend. You went everywhere with me and I was rewarded by your ‘smiling face,’ face licks, and nightly cuddling. You tilt his head when I talk, get excited to ‘go to grandma’s, ‘let kids do whatever they want, love kittens (and even carry them to different rooms), and even accepted our foster dog. Your personality is distinct. You’re loving, caring, mischievous, hilarious, energetic, entertaining, friendly, and my loyal companion.

When you first came home with me you were only 1/½ years old. You’re almost 5 now and still as energetic as the day I brought you home. You make everyone smile and you’ve even been called ‘the coolest dog in the neighborhood.’ The neighborhood kids call you a K9 and always run to come play with you. You’re my little boy and I wouldn’t change you for the world.

Love Always and Forever,
Mom (Kandyce)

Dear Eddie and Hiko,

The Ones We Feed…

Thank you for traveling with us. We come together as family, each with our own wounded pasts, us humans from being in our heads so much, you teaching us to come back to our hearts. We honor you both as we contemplate how to live in the present surrounded by obvious uncertainties.

Eddie, you were seen scavenging and roaming the streets of LA with your dear friend, found grieving by his side after his departure, having been struck by a car. Your rescuers saw your sweet soul, your nurturing spirit, playfulness and curiosity as you snuggled with their dogs until you came our way. How your being would have been left uncared for? You’re a pleasure to have in our lives, eager to please, looking for approval with those big blue eyes, “Am I a good boy?” Yes, Eddie, you are a very good boy!

Hiko, knowing Eddie would be happier with a playmate and seeing your photo online, with that laughing smile, we didn’t believe you were destructive because you were inherently bad. It wasn’t your fault you escaped into your neighbor’s chicken coup, landing yourself behind bars. You weren’t given the outlets you needed to explore your universe. Not scared by your seizures which began after you were hit by a car in your first home, we believed you could live in health if your spirit was nurtured. The big, fun nut that you are, it’s been difficult to understand how, at the age of three, you already had two families, each wanting to end your life. It was obvious you were misunderstood. We chose to believe that with the right love, you would thrive. You’ve proven yourself!

Like us humans, your coming together hasn’t been free of struggle. Eddie, when Hiko joined our family, it was stunning to see the weaker side of you. We thought you’d love your new playmate, which seemed the case at first, but only until you realized he was staying. Yes, we are feeding him. Yes, we are taking him running. Yes, he is sleeping here. You took some time to accept and understand Hiko, who knows no boundary. But now that you have, it’s our pleasure to watch you two wrestle and play, as you’ve learned to understand and appreciate one another and your differences, and learn that with love, everything will be alright. Thank you both for teaching us to remain our true selves as we travel, to know it may not be the easiest path, but by continuing to navigate with heart and kindness, the perfect balance will be found.

Hiko, not that you’d been mistreated, but you weren’t the quickest to enjoy humans as much as your own species. We’re so happy you have now, but oh, how you enjoy your own species! You’re always sure you’ve met your latest love, exclaiming, “Hi, do you see me? You love me, right? I loooove YOU! You do love ME? Please tell me so NOOOOOW!” Eddie, you’ve grown so patient, as you want to play too, but have so graciously learned to be tolerant of the rambunctious one.

You both are so much fun to cruise the neighborhood with, our universe. It is always a pleasure to share your spirit with those who need some husky love. “Can we pet your dogs? Are they friendly?” “To say the least!” Many laughs as Eddie politely jumps to give a kiss and make eye contact, attempting to connect through the soul, while Hiko greets with his enthusiastic crotch sniff … well, enough said!

As us humans contemplate the uncertainty of life and love, you have taught us to have compassion and understanding, to see our own faults, and offer forgiveness. You teach us to listen to our hearts, laugh when we can, be in the present, and keep to coming back. Journeying together as family and friends, uncertain as to where we’re going, yet nurturing each other, Barefoot Ted McDonald, Leah Dawn Kangas, Eddie and Hiko in Seattle.