I’ve always been a shy person. Usually when I tell people this, they don’t believe me and insist that no, you’re not. And it’s true that once I know someone, I’m pretty chatty. But put me in a room of people I don’t know, and I clam up. Or even if it’s just me and one other adult at a park, I find it hard to strike up a conversation. I’m very uncomfortable introducing myself to random people (which is funny, since I’m a journalist, and that’s what you have to do all the time…but it’s somehow different when it’s work).
My husband’s an introvert, too. Again, kind of amusing, since he’s running for city council, has done lots of public speaking, attended trade shows for The Konan Koalition.
It should come as no surprise then that our little boy hates crowds. A few weeks ago we tried to go to a wedding brunch. No dice. Instead of hanging out, he and I walked to a nearby park and then a friend who lived nearby. He didn’t even want to play in their yard.
The next weekend we went to a friend’s birthday party. Nope. Instead, he and his dad walked up and down the street looking at trucks.
One time we tried to go to a friend’s 40th birthday party. Kid-friendly, as there were other little ones there. It was raining outside, but Cub still insisted on staying outside and was totally happy to do so.
The weird thing is we will take him to Superstore or Costco, which should be his version of a nightmare (it’s kind of mine), and yet he chats away excitedly at people and points to all the different groceries.
Today we tried to go to a friend’s house. I’m all about accommodating as much as I can: I respect the fact my little man is shy. Frankly, he comes by it honestly, and I don’t like new situations all the time either. But sometimes, Mama just wants to have a coffee with another adult, and this friend is going back to work soon, which will make it hard to do so. Plus, she has a paddling pool across the street, a little boy a year older than mine, and a little girl a year younger. Perfect!
Nope! Cried, paused, cried some more, threw his head back, arched his back…ugh. We’ve even been to their house before. I try so hard to be patient because I get that it’s hard being a toddler. Eventually he calmed down, and he even started playing – which was of course right before we were going to head over to the park/pool area.
Once he’s at a park, it’s like he’s in his glory. He doesn’t care if there are tons of kids or no kids, he just does his own thing. The one thing I can always say is he happily plays by and entertains himself.
I convinced him to walk by the paddling pool but not go on the other side of the fence. He splashed up and down the sidewalk. Good times.
He just takes some time to warm up to things. He comes by that honestly, too, but that’s another story for another time.
As I sit down to write what could be called a eulogy, the sun is pouring in through the window. I like to think this is Konan telling me, It’s ok, Mom. I’m ok.
Before my husband took him to the vet tonight, he took this photo of us. I think you can see in his eyes he knew he was about to cross the Rainbow Bridge. In my heart, I knew it, too. Earlier in the day, I made sure to spend some time with him, petting him, and I even sang to him. I tried not to cry, because as the mom, you don’t want your baby to feel or pick up on your sadness. You want them to think everything is ok.
Knowing the end is near and that it is for the best doesn’t make saying good-bye any easier. Reading texts from my husband as I sat in Dairy Queen, sharing a funnel cake and ice cream with our toddler who doesn’t understand he won’t see Konan again, I tried not to cry again. I felt bad I couldn’t be there for my husband (who also had to be there at my cat’s side a few years ago when we said good-bye) and for my dog. For the jerk that Konan had become to some people, he clearly loved and seemed protective of Cub (likely why he was a jerk to others), and Cub wasn’t intimidated or bothered at all by his 100 pound dog.
The universe has a way of coming full circle. Many people know the story of Konan: when he was young, ruptured his ACLs, required surgery, it was expensive, we fundraised to help us cover the costs because my husband was in school, and from that experience, Doug created The Konan Koalition to help other families cover the cost of expensive surgeries.
And tonight we found ourselves facing the very decision many families we helped (or couldn’t help) had to face…our now old dog had ruptured the suctures from his surgery, had an infection in his leg, and is beginning to show signs of dementia. It would cost a couple thousand to fix. We could try meds and physio, also expensive, and no guarantee that would work. The irony wasn’t lost on either of us as we texted back and forth until we agreed, “This was it.”
Konan joined our family because my husband wanted a dog, and yet he became my dog. I fondly remember him shitting on a yoga mat as I talked on the phone to my boss, unable to get him outside. We enjoyed many play dates at Sutherland Beach dog park. My first cat, Patches, tolerated and played with him a bit, but not to the extent our second cat, Jeremy, did. Jeremy loved that dog, and we often joked Jeremy thought he, too, was a dog, because he always wanted to rough house with Konan. All three of our kids loved Konan, and he never showed anything but love back.
Konan scared the shit out of many a friend and foe, partly because he was a big dog with a big bark. We admit he became a bit of a jerk by the end in his old age. But to us, he was a big lug with a big heart who grumbled when you tried to cuddle with him. I’m certain he’s in doggie heaven with Patches, chasing her as she hisses and swats at him. He’s running joyously and pain-free through water (though not too much), chasing and eating sticks as big as fence posts, hopping around like a goof with other dogs.
Thank you to everyone who over the years has supported The Konan Koalition and the SPCA, which is where we brought Konan home from. Thank you also to the U of S small animal clinic for all their kindness and compassion over the years (when Konan used to go for physio, he was a memorable guy!). From all the comments I’ve read so far, our silly mutt touched a lot of people, and that makes me feel good. Until we meet again…
Wake up a bit earlier than usual, just in case parents were getting too comfortable with the routine.
Alternate between playing with trucks, watching videos on trucks, and banging the gate, thereby signalling you want to go outside.
Crying when your mom answers the door to greet the visitors, again signalling that you’d rather be outside.
So your mom takes you and her friend outside. You point to the stroller, so your mom puts you in, only for you to insist she takes you out. You’d rather walk and guide her and her friend for four blocks in the neighbourhood. That’s pretty tiring, so then she must pick you up. You want her to carry you another two blocks to the park, but she carries you home instead, so you cry in disgust.
Not pictured: the cartoons allowing this photo to be taken.
Decide you’ve been social enough and instead of playing with the two other boys who love all your trucks, you watch videos about trucks. You do look up to wave bye-bye.
Fall asleep two hours earlier than usual for your nap – but that big walk was exhausting! This means you can go to your friend’s birthday party, so your mom is pretty excited about that!
Wake up and get into the car. Drive to birthday party. Walk into the backyard with all the people, immediately get upset, cry, and insist your dad takes you back out to the street, which you walk up and down, pointing at the trucks.
“It’s not my party but I’ll still cry if I want to!”
Dad tries to bring you back, but you repeat. Stay with Mom for a bit while dad uses the washroom. Cry. Go back to the street with Dad, point to your SUV, climb into your carseat and buckle yourself in. Time to go home.
Get home and play with neighourhood friends and then point again to stroller, so your mom and dad take you to the park. Play for a while, have fun, get back in, go home. Get near home and get upset that Mom won’t keep walking around the neighbourhood.
Continue being pretty upset inside. You’re likely hungry, but too upset to eat. Eventually you calm down.
You decide even though you got up earlier, napped earlier, and had a big day, to not go to bed earlier. Won’t fall asleep for Mom, who texts Dad in a pleading manner. He lies down beside you, takes you in his arms, says, “Cub, it’s time to go to bed,” and you promptly fall asleep sprawled out beside him….while Mom thinks both, Why the hell won’t you do that for me? and Thank God, now I can grab a snack and pee.
It’s hard work being a toddler.