This past week I went through a painful experience: My 11-year-old dog passed away. She was so much more than ‘just a dog,’ though. She brought a lot of firsts to our family…
Her name was Kaya, but we also called her Monkey. She recognized both names as hers and would respond to either. She was a funny, athletic, and amazingly loyal dog who was somewhat wild, naughty, and yet loved to be pampered like one of those designer dogs.
We referred to her as ‘crazy Monkey.’
A few years ago, she protected me from an encroaching black bear I accidentally wandered into while hiking. She chased a group of coyotes through a barbed wire fence, was kicked in the head by a horse when she was a pup, and even ate a fresh deer leg we found in the mountains which was left behind, likely by a cougar. I liked the mountains before she came into my life, but Monkey made me love them. She protected my home with absolute dedication and gave the best cuddles. Most of all, she was the epitome of a loyal friend who provided unconditional love to my family.
To honour her, I want to share an extraordinary lesson that Monkey taught me about life…
Monkey lived for ‘the chase.’ You see, her breed is known as the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and they have a strong prey drive. Her instinct to chase after animals gave me years of entertainment and provided one life-long lesson…
Without a moment’s notice, Monkey would bolt across a road, field, or river to try and catch her archnemeses: hares.
From puppyhood up to her last week, she chased hares with an unquenchable desire; you could not stop her once she spotted one of those jumping rodents, with their tall pointy ears and jittery bodies. But those bloody hares were always a step ahead. However, that didn’t stop Monkey from trying to catch them with all her might for her entire life whenever she saw one, which was almost daily as we lived near a ravine and field infested with them.
In her prime, the hares would run frantically away, zig-zagging across the field, shit-scared for their lives. As Monkey aged, the hares seemingly toyed with her as they knew there was no chance of being caught. It didn’t matter to Monkey though, she was always game and optimistic that maybe, just maybe, this was the day she would get lucky.
Even as she aged and had lost a step or two, Monkey still went for those hares with all she had, just as optimistic as ever that she would catch one.
Monkey’s lifelong pursuit of the hare was funny and somewhat sad because I wanted so badly for her to finally get one; at the same time, it was inspiring to watch her fail day in and day out.
Whether her desire to eat a hare for dinner produced success or failure mattered little to Monkey’s resolve. She would never catch a single hare in her life, but after every failed attempt, she would prance back over and give me a kiss, as if to say “you see that, Dad, I was sooo close.” And every time she failed to catch one, I’d smile and pat her on the head with another ‘good girl!’
Imagine if we carried her resolve and determination… what could we achieve? What’s more, when you love the chase, you’ve made it. You can’t lose.