Sitting here in the studio this afternoon, the baby started to kick in a way I hadn't felt yet. Typically when this happens, I start to daydream about what she's doing in there and also what it'll be like once she's out here with us. I crack up laughing so often, she makes me laugh in the ways she moves and already I feel like I'm getting to know her so well...
My daydream trailed off a bit and caused me to get a bit teary eyed when I started thinking about the first moments she gets to meet Kenai and Orson. I wonder if Kenai will ignore her and I know Orson will be incredibly curious about this new creature in our house. But you see, Kenai, she's always been my #1 girl, it's been her and me for so many years now I can't be mad at her if she does ignore the baby at first. She really is a bit of a snob... and probably doesn't even care what you think.
We made great effort to help Kenai feel like she had an important role in bringing Orson home but when DK first lowered the fluffy puppy to her level to meet, she literally, nose in the air turned her face away from him with the most obvious disdain - this memory still cracks us up. Little by little when we weren't looking, we'd catch her giving in to him, hard as he is to resist. And I'm confident it'll be the same with the baby.
I get pretty emotional thinking about the last 8 years of life experiences we've shared together. So many storms, adventures and travels, from break-ups to job changes, she maintained a pretty vital role in the last decade of my life. But how do you ever express the depths of your gratitude to a dog? How do you properly show a canine the love and appreciation you feel for the ways they've stretched you, taught you patience, grown you outside of yourself, and been the greatest friend you've ever known? I'm confident she understands. She knows I know. And sometimes it's just an eye to eye ackowledgement in the midst of a lot of chaos (bouncing Orson) around us.
When I reflect on the moments in my life, past and present, where I've felt the most alive, it's when I'm with her. And typically because she causes me to slow down and recognize that fact. Whether we're kayaking the Bayou together or in a wide open field, to watch her experience the exhilaration of no boundaries and see her sit so tall and regally as the wind flap her ears, she absorbs every element around her and reminds me to take in the most precious moments in life, that this is where we remember how to live.
Car rides alone with DK or me are a really special way we remind her she's not just grouped into the dog side of our family, but that she too needs to get out of the house once in awhile. Even if it's to the grocery or back, she goes berserk at the thought of getting away and does a dance we call "The Kenny Bop" where she jumps and contorts her body much like that of a sailfish when caught on a fishing line. She only sits on the right side of the car (to avoid oncoming traffic, naturally) and insists on having her head out the window, even at 60 miles an hour on the freeway.
Kenai is an incredible swimmer, is a passionate fetcher, is faster and can jump further than any dog at the park, loves to snuggle and sleep in and is also a seasoned model and actress. DK shot a short film in my old house a couple years back and because Kenai showed such consistent dislike for a certain actor as he entered the scene, they decided to keep her in the shot. And like a pro, after her lines she quietly exited the shot and parked herself next to DK behind the camera until needed again.
Looking forward to this baby coming, I do worry how it will affect Kenai because honestly, this adventure would not be the same without her part of it. But she and I still have big plans together for the future. In fact my greatest dream for her is to get her into some serious snow. This Christmas I'm hoping to make that a reality for her, the thought of watching her bound through acres and rolling hills of snow absolutely makes my heart soar. She'll always be my first girl ... and no one will EVER compare.
(Photo credits: Donald Kilgore, Liz Jordan, and Chris Pereira.)