The Story of Kiku (the pup, not the yarn)June 13, 2022

2022-02-06 Kiku enjoying a warm, sunny winter day.

Kiku, Best Dog Ever!  June 11, 2010 - June 13, 2022

Kiku’s mommy, Blossom, was a stray in Kansas and was transferred to Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue in Denver. They quickly realized she was pregnant so Blossom was moved to a foster home.

Blossom had a litter of 10 puppies on June 11, 2010…nine survived. And it was evident that there were at least two daddies--one with hound characteristics and one with pug eyes.

We met Kiku when she was just 6 weeks old…when it was our turn to meet the litter, we had a choice between two female puppies (the others were spoken for). Richard and I played with both puppies and each agreed that "Skinny Cow" (Kiku's name then) was the puppy for us. We brought her home in August 6, 2010, when she was 8 weeks old. 

We named her Kiku…it means “chrysanthemum” in Japanese, a tribute to both her mommy, Blossom, and to Autumn, our dog of 12.5 years who crossed the rainbow bridge on June 8, 2010. It was because Autumn was “best dog ever” that we wanted our home graced with another dog.

After buying Treenway Silks in August 2011, I named our most popular yarn “Kiku” so that Kiku (the pup) would live forever.

Kiku had terrible hip dysplasia. Kiku had two hip replacements at Colorado State University (CSU) Vet school when she was about 2 years old. The first (left side) was May 2012; her right side was January 2013. 

Kiku and I walked regularly at Crown Hill Lake, a 1.25 mile loop that was just 3/4 miles from our house. Kiku was famous for carrying sticks, branches, limbs…the bigger the better!  And Kiku must have been a tree trimmer in a former life—she would break off all the side branches and never broke the lead branch.

Kiku would ride with me every day to the post office….as long as it was under 90 degrees. If too hot, she had to stay home which she didn’t understand and didn’t like AT ALL! I estimate we made 2,799 trips together to the Post Office, our last one on June 11, 2022, Kiku's 12th birthday.  Often on the way home, we would stop at the school yard to chase balls or a Frisbee, and visit with other doggie friends and their humans.

Kiku loved swimming. I would find all the end-of-summer doggie swims.  Being in the Denver metro area, we could go to 5-20 swims a season.  Kiku would swim for a couple hours.  Other dogs were all about jumping in, retrieving the toy and scrambling out to repeat it over and over. Kiku was a swimmer! She would swim the length of the pool, I’d throw the frisbee, and she’d retrieve it and swim back to the beginning. If she could stand on the bottom, she didn't waste any energy getting out. "Bark, Bark, BARK"  which meant "I'm ready, let's go again! What are you waiting for?!"  It was like she was training for the Olympics!  She couldn’t be bothered with balls if there was a frisbee in my hand—and she never went after other dogs’ toys.

We have a household of cats...we adopt strays and we adopted several of Mom's kitties when she moved from Iowa to Colorado, June 2017. Each kitty would learn quickly "If I don't run, Kiku won't chase."  I have so many photos of Kiku sleeping with one or more of our kitties.  Kiku would be inside and start to bark and I'd look outside to see why.  Usually it was a delivery, but often Milk Mustache or BC (Boy Cat) would sitting by the door, waiting to be let in.

All was great until August 2018 when Kiku started limping after one of the doggie swims. We took her back to CSU. The “cap” of the left hip implement had micro movement. Our best course of treatment was pain management, which included restricting her movements….only short walks, no swimming, no jumping on couch, etc. But Kiku laughed and said “I want to snuggle with my humans," ignored our commands to stay on the floor and jumped on the couch to be close to us.

We started lifting Kiku into the Subaru and bought a ramp so she could get out. It was important to continue those daily car rides.

We changed meds during the 3.75 years of pain management, increasing them to the maximum level. We added CBD oil, in increasing concentration and frequency.

After Mom passed away on June 9, 2021, I whispered in Kiku's ear "I need you to stay with us for at least 3 months.  I can't take another loss now."  Kiku looked at me (she understood everything I said) and with her eyes, said "I love you and I'll stay with you for as long as I can."  Our sweet baby more than lived up to her promise.  Every day of the last 12 months has been a special gift.

I found an indoor doggie pool with a ramp into the water. We swam nearly every Sunday between August 2021-December 2021.  Pure joy on Kiku’s face ♥

We pulled out Autumn’s Help ‘em Up harness so we could assist Kiku with standing up.

Richard fixed chicken and sweet potatoes for Kiku’s breakfast and dinner for months, when she got tired of her kibble. 

We started celebrating “month-day” the 11th of every month in anticipation of Kiku’s 12th birthday. Kiku’s favorite "out and about" treat was a Starbucks puppuccino.  And believe me, we tried all of the drive-through puppy treats!

Finally Kiku said “I love you both with my whole doggie heart. You've done everything for me, but now I must go."  Because we love her with our whole hearts, we helped Kiku cross the rainbow bridge on Monday, June 13th.

Our hearts are shattered. Our house is empty.

"If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever" David Ellsworth

I have over 1,000 photos of Kiku--we had so much fun together ♥ and such a wonderful life. Even though it's painful today, I wouldn't give up those 12 years of joy for anything.

We have expressed our love by donating, in honor of Kiku, to both Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue and Animal Rescue League of Iowa, where we used to volunteer.