Sunday, June 25, 2017


Kona Collins
May 6th, 2006 - June 14th, 2017

As many of you already know, we had to say "bye soon" to our sweet Kona girl last Wednesday. She had a swift two week decline that seemed both fast and eternally slow. I agonized over this decision but on Wednesday there was no question that it was time to say goodbye. Just 10 days earlier she had been running with me each morning and then she was gone.

Patrick and I got Kona and her brother, Brick, from a breeder in Blair, NE on July 6th, 2006. They were 8 weeks old. The plan had originally been to bring one puppy home and to take back Patrick's Brittany that had gone to his parents when he went to grad school. Several things happened to change this plan.  A.) his mom fell in love with Roxy and wasn't about to give up the companionship and B.) there were two pups left in the litter, one boy and one girl. The girl was the runt. She was tiny and had an umbilical hernia repair done... twice. They were so sweet and we just couldn't take one without the other. This turned out to be the best decision. They got along great. They were constantly taking things back and forth from each other and so there was very little puppy destruction at our house.

Patrick and I had been married for a year when these two sweet pups joined our family. They lounged on our bed, sat on our laps, rode in the trailer behind Patrick's bicycle. He was working at a church in Omaha at the time and they went to work with him each day, roaming around the youth room while he worked. They had us wrapped around their little paws.

At about 6 months old, I had them at the dog park in Omaha while Patrick was working on bikes with the youth group. Kona managed to step on something and cut her paw wide open. We ended up at the emergency vet clinic for stitches to two layers of tissue as well as the artery that she severed. It was quite the adventure as I was trying to apply pressure to a gushing, bloody, puppy paw, drive a stick shift, and figure out where the clinic was. She was wrapped up to heal and send home with instructions to keep the paw and the stitches dry... and then it snowed about 8 inches. Sigh.

Recovering from the anesthesia

Trail Sisters
As they grew, we walked and walked and walked them. At 6-7 months we started doing short runs and soon, they were full time running buddies. Kona was my trail sister. She trained with me for over a decade worth of races, including triathlons of all distances from sprint to half ironman, running events including 5 and 10k, half marathons, full marathons and ultra marathons. She even snuck into the track with me a few times and did track workouts. We ran trails, pavement and crushed limestone. She ran in as many states as I have and saw the prairie, lakes, streams, woods, back country fields, dirt single track, country road, and city trails. I did my first run without her this week and there was a big gaping space where a cute little puppy bum should have been. 

At the lake!
In Sept 2010, E joined our family. Bringing home a new baby to these two dogs was no problem. They loved that he spit up all over and they hid in our room when the crying became too much to tolerate. Emmett called Kona, "na-na" and the name stuck.

Emmett and Na Na
Thanksgiving 2011 we had our house on the market and due to a mistake by the Realty Company and their hired photographer, both dogs got out of the fenced in yard and were hit by a UHaul truck on a busy street. I stumbled across the accident on my way home from work. Brick had died instantly and Kona had a terrible brain injury and a few abrasions. Thousands of dollars later, with much thanks to our vet and the emergency vet clinic (thank you Thanksgiving weekend), she recovered. There were agonizing moments when we weren't sure what to do. We were grieving the loss of one and trying to make financially feasible medical decisions for the other. We brought her home and nursed her back to health. We fed her soft food with a spoon, held up her water and rigged up a towel to help her walk. We have video of her first independent steps following the brain injury. She was back to running with me 8 weeks later and trained for 2 ultra marathons after the incident.

Immediately following her accident at the vet clinic.
Patrick visiting Kona for the first time after she was hit.
Soaking up some rays on the back porch on her first day home.
Kona survived three toddlers and a drive across the country. As a friend said, "she got you all transitioned to Connecticut".

Kona and Micah
I keep expecting her to be laying on my bed when I come in the room. I feel like she should be under foot when I am cooking and making peanut butter. I miss her when I run and when I lay down to relax in the evening. Her favorite spot was to be curled up between my knees and feet. She liked to lay on the bath mat when I was in the shower. I keep catching myself telling the boys to push their uneaten food away from the edge of the table and I have had to sweep the floor 30 times because there is no canine vacuum cleaner.

The last days were awful. She spend one night at the vet clinic for lyme tests, blood work, and chest xrays. All normal.  The vet recommended a veternatiry neurologisy in New York but it just wasn't feasible. We brought her home on broad spectrum antibiotics, anti nausea and a probiotic. We never figured out what happened, why she got sick. Feeling so helpless. She seemed glad to be home but still she didn't wag her tail once. She had quit eating. I could coax her to eat a spoonful of peanut butter here and a few tablespoons of applesauce there. She was drinking water voraciously (maybe due to the medications we tried unsuccessfully). I carried her up and down the stairs for fear she would fall and get hurt and because she just wasn't steady enough. I lifted her on and off the couch, covered with a blanket, so she could rest in her favorite spots. I cuddled her up and let her lay her head on my lap. I took her outside and put out a blanket so she could soak up the sun, one of her favorite things. And I cried, hoping she would rebound.

Snuggling with momma in her very favorite spot
Finally, I called the clinic and asked for an appointment. Such a long day. I sat with her while the sedative made her sleepy and I sat with her while the injection was given. I was there when her soul left her body and I felt such sadness and yet an overwhelming sense of presence. I am so thankful Patrick let me take her to the appointment by myself.

See you again sweet girl. 

1 comment:

  1. Kona was a sweet companion. She was a good and faithful dog. You helped her have a good life. Bye soon, Kona.