She was warm and wiggly, and wore a chewed, purple ribbon around her neck. That first night, she shivered in my arms and cried all the way home. Over the next fifteen years, she never did learn to like the car . . . unless it was parked with an open door or window, then it was great fun to hop in and make herself at home— digging for gum or stowed candies. A workman’s lunch if she was lucky. But she never wanted the car to move with her inside of it. Trips to the vet were tortuous, for us. Her non-stop yelp was a pitch just below the glass-breaking decibel. She would paw at anything within reach, including me, and send enough fur flying to make blankets for all the homeless in Manhattan. Oh. Did I forget to mention the drool? That flew too.
“What should we name her?” Mike asked. This is my husband’s first dog; if left up to him, he would choose “Buzz” or “Scooter.” I panic and search my mind for something . . . less “Dick and Jane Name their Mutt.”
Our youngest daughter, Lauren, remembers a similar conversation. “Are we going to name her Bonnie?” she asks.
Bonnie is the name we gave the cute collie pup in the local pet shop—the one that was already in someone else’s arms the day we went back to buy her.
“This little girl deserves a fresh name,” I said. “I like Killian, like her mom.” There are cheers from the backseat as our two daughters agree.
“Like the beer?” Mike said, warming up to the suggestion. That’s not a surprise, he likes beer and it turns out that Killian will, too. He tries the name out. “Killian’s Irish Red. Well, she’s Irish and she’s red— it makes sense.”
“Erm. We can do better,” I said. “How about Lady Killian?”
“Of Morningstar,” Mike said, adding the name of our street. “Lady Killian of Morningstar.”
It looked great on her pedigree certificate— but we rarely used it. Instead, we called her Poofy, or Fuff, or Foofie, or Killie-Willian, or assorted combinations of the aforementioned. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it was the way the hair on her knobby head stuck up after a good run. Or the fact that we love dumb monikers— we call our cat ‘Pie.’ Either way, the endearments suited her. She was a silly dog who confounded us with her human-like sensitivity and crazy-stubborn attitude.
It’s been nearly two years since we lost her, and I miss her still— her big, stupid grin with the tongue lolling down to her knees, the way the fur on her ears felt like silk, or the solid weight of her muscled body leaning in for a hug. Sweet and dopey, lovable and obnoxious, she never failed to make an impression. She embraced the world on her terms and seized the day, wringing pleasure out of each opportunity available to her:
“Uh . . . Mrs. Falvo? Can I get a PBJ from you? Your dog just ate my lunch.” ~ Carpenter
“OMG. Your dog climbed through the window on my truck and stole my sandwich.” ~ Mohawk Nursery Landscapers
“Uh . . . Mrs. Falvo? Your dog is eating my soda cup. Is that okay? It won’t hurt her, will it?” ~ Lawn Service Company
“Nope, she definitely ate it. Look at her. She put herself in the crate— and see how distended her belly is?” ~ Michael, on solving the mystery of the missing 2 #’s of beef stew.
“She is so skinny. Don’t you ever feed this dog?” ~ Acquaintances upon meeting her for the 1st time.
“No problem . . . your mail’s right here and we’ll get that forwarded to you right away . . . btw your carrier said to tell you he really misses your dog.” ~ Sparta Post Office after our move to Hinsdale.
“Hi Denise! Is Killian there with you? I just saw a red blur go streaking past my window.” Connie MacIntyre-Reed, over the phone.
“I had to carry her back. The snow kept clumping up in her paws.” ~ Michael, on Killian’s first winter walk at 4 months old.
“Go potty. Go potty . . . go potty go potty gopotty gopottygopottygopottygopotty GO POTTY NOW!” ~ Pre-electric fence, in the rain, in the dark, around midnight and at about 30 degrees.
“It’s okay . . . just keep driving, she always gets out of the way . . . you won’t hit her.” ~ On welcoming every visiting car head-on in the circle driveway, and then parading ahead and leading them all the way in.
“Mike? Honey? We need to get more grass seed . . . she’s worn a rut at the top of the hill again.”
“Noooo! Mom! She won’t get her face out of the popcorn bowl!” ~ Lauren
“Mom! Make her stop. She keeps stealing our side walk chalk and eating it.“ ~ Kali
“Mom! The goose is naked again. I don’t know where she left the clothes this time . . . all I could find was the hat.”
“Nah, I only give her the brown ones. She spits the other colors out.” ~ The “Treat Lady” jogger, as she fished in her pocket for the correct color treat.
“Why does your dog always sit backwards on top of the hill?”
“Did you know that your dog sits with her back to road?”
“Why does Killian watch for cars from over her shoulders?”
“Oh my gosh. I just figured it out. It’s the incline. She falls backwards if she faces front, doesn’t she?” ~ Sparta Neighbors
“I gotta go, hun. You caught me unloading groceries when you called. I think the dog slipped out when I answered the phone. Yep . . . she just jumped into the back of the SUV and found the bags . . . oh, crap, she’s devouring the roast beef I bought for dinner.” ~ Denise
“She could’ve had it but she just stopped short. I think she realized she wouldn’t know what to do if she caught it.” ~ Michael, on chasing squirrels.
“Don’t worry about Killian. She’s doing great. She loves running around in the outdoor play area but she won’t go near the pond . . . we think she’s afraid of the fish.” ~ The Pet Spa
“She’s in the basement again. She’s still afraid of the cat.”
“She won’t stop barking at the pool . . . she thinks the automatic cleaner is a monster.”
“Seriously? Now she’s afraid of her water bowl? So what is she drinking then?”
“Is it alright if she drinks the pool water?”
“She likes beer.”
“She’s drinking out of the bird fountain again. Do you think that’s why the birds won’t use it?”
“Mom? She’s drinking the rain water from the bucket outside with the weeds in it.”
“No. You cannot have my coffee.”
“Yeah, once she got it open he decided to let her keep it . . . she likes chewing on the bottle.” ~ Service guy commenting on the loss of his partner’s water bottle.
“Huh! Guess she likes flavored water.” ~ Michael, on Killian’s persistence in drinking out of anything but her own bowl.
“She had to go through the fence. How the hell did she squeeze through that four inch gap?” ~ Michael
“Do NOT pet her . . . it will become your permanent job for as long as you’re here.”
“I love driving past your house just to see her go nuts.” ~ Mike Reed, on taking out his motorcycle.
“Of course, she opens her own Christmas presents. We taught her the first year and she’s done it ever since.”
“Mom! She’s opening everybody’s Christmas presents!”
“Shake, shake, shake; shake, shake, shake. Ok. Wait. Wait. Ready? Run!” On getting out of the shower, towel dried, and then joyfully running loose.
“She’s in the basement again. I think she’s afraid of Watson.” On Killian’s whereabouts while the family watched the Bonventre’s new puppy for a week.
“Aw, look at her. She’s so sweet. She always does that when we visit . . . I think she misses him.“ ~ Kelly Bonventre on Killian’s submissive posture when confronting Watson.
“She’s so sweet. Look at her. She’s always so happy every time I see her. Killian! Would you like another homemade peanut butter treat?” ~ Karen Carter, next-door neighbor in Hinsdale.
“Ugh! Killian! Get off my homework.”
“Get off the couch!”
“Get out of that car . . . that’s not ours.”
“Ouch! Get off the bed.”
“What are you doing? Get out from under there.”
“Oomph. Get off my lap.”
“Kil-eee-aaaan. Come here. Please come here. Please don’t do this. C’mon. Please-please-please.”
“Ugh. Dammit. Get over here… NOW. RIGHT NOW.”
“Fine. You can stay out all night for all I care.”
“Stop that. That’s gross.”
“Stop licking me, fish-breath.”
“Ouch! Stop stepping on my feet, you clod.”
“When that dog finally stops running, she’s gonna sit for a l-o-o-o-n-g time.” ~ Christine Zadrozny, next-door neighbor in Sparta.
“Killian? Where are you?”
TOP THIEVING SCORES CONSUMED AT ONE SITTING
5 Chocolate Cupcakes
2# Beef Stew
1.5# Deli Sliced Roast Beef
2# Salmon Filet
I Loaf Homemade Banana Bread
MOST IMPRESSIVE: Stealing chicken stir fry right out of the hot pan while it was cooking on the stove.
THINGS THAT SCARED HER:
Monsters in the Sewers
Fish in the Lake
The Automatic Pool Cleaner
Riding in a Car
FAVORITE THINGS TO DO:
Walking with Michael.
Anything else with Michael.
Eating anything, but her own food.
Running after sports cars, motorcycles, and large trucks.
Running around the lake.
Laying on anything soft.
A good “outside” day.