Dog#039;s death shows time#039;s passing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 17, 2002

My dog died last week

She wasn't my best friend; I reserve that title for humans. I didn't refer to her as my kid or buy ridiculous sweaters for her.

But she was a good pet. And she'll be missed.

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This isn't the first time I had lost a dog. When I was 7 years old, my first dog was hit by a car.

My brothers and I worried about her until the next day when my dad came home from the veterinarian and told us she didn't make it.

Tears soaked my cheeks for the rest of the day. My parents had gotten that dog the year after I was born and she had spent countless afternoons with me playing in the yard.

But that August my parents loaded us up in the car and drove us to a nearby town where a collie had given birth to five puppies.

It was hard to pick one, but we settled on a puppy with a white stripe down her nose, which we thought resembled Lassie.

I got up early that next morning just to see how she was doing. She ended up chasing me around the yard and yipping.

After throwing out the names Lassie and Missy, we settled on calling her Kelsey.

That summer I showed off our new dog to my friends. My family bought her toys, brushed her fur and spoiled her.

Kelsey picked up a few bad habits, such as chewing on my brother's shoes and jumping up on visitors. She never learned how to fetch and the only trick she could do was shake hands.

She grew out of those bad habits within a few years. Her fur became less soft and her focus turned from constant play to always looking out for us.

In the last few years she didn't hear as well and limped up the steps. Every so often she would shake uncontrollably.

But even when I saw her two weeks ago I still called her "Kelsey Pup."

My mom called me last Tuesday. She told me Kelsey wasn't eating or drinking water Monday and that she didn't make it through the night.

It didn't sink in until last Friday. I finally realized she wouldn't greet me when I visited my parents.

I thought about when we first got her and when we pulled into our driveway, my dad said to her "Pretty soon you'll know this place like the back of your paw."

Sure, it was a little cheesy, but he was just trying to calm the nervous puppy down as she whimpered in the back seat.

That reassuring line could be used for everyone who find themselves in a new situation. It helps me as I adjust to living in Austin and my new life here.

Kelsey's death, for me, signifies a change in my life. My home doesn't stay the same when I leave it. Parts of it change just as my life changes.

In a few months, there will probably be a new puppy running around my parents' yard.

But this time I'll be a visitor. And like Kelsey used to jump up on visitors, this new dog just may do the same to me.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at