I remember the day we brought you home. Whei and I were sitting in the laundry room trying to decide what to name you, while you layed on your back so we could rub your stomach. I remember coming home from school to see that you had peed and pooed on the floor. That was when the rents decided to move you to the garage with a cage lined with blankets to sleep in.
I remember the sheer excitement you expressed whenever someone entered the garage; the look in your eyes, the fidgeting of your legs as if you had to pee really bad, and your flailing tail rapping against the metal of the cage. I remember when you figured out how to get out of your “fenced” area, surprising us with your presence right at the door to the garage. I remember the first time you barked, when you heard another dog outside the garage that you couldn’t see.
I remember how you loved to be outside. We would chain you to the basketball hoop so you could spend the day outside while I was at school. You would dig holes in our yard and dad would have to fill them up with top soil every now and then. I remember getting off the bus, walking towards our house, and spotting you laying on the grass. You would hear my footsteps approaching, stand up with alacrity and vigil as your ears shot up, and upon seeing it was me, would start your vigorous tail-wagging, foot-fidgeting, and repeatedly bend your head down to the ground with your front legs extended forward, gripping the grass, and eager to play.
I remember our walks together. Holding you back tightly whenever you spotted a rabbit, racing you over little stretches (you always passed me in half a second because you wanted to walk in front), and letting you roll in spots of grass you picked out. I remember the times when I let you loose at the dog park, watching you completely pwn the other dogs in speed and agility, leaving them in your clouds of dust. I remember one time we were walking together and you farted and then immediately looked up at me, as if I was the one who farted, or as if you were eager to see my reaction, half afraid that I would get angry. But instead I looked back at you and cracked up laughing into the sky like a madman.
I remember the times when I almost lost you. The first time I took you out for a walk in the snow, you got so excited that you ran out and my gloves lost grip of the leash. You took off before I could even react, racing down the streets paved with snow and out of sight around the corner. I tried to chase but it was futile. I was so scared that I knelt down on the side of the street and prayed to God to bring you back. Soon after I opened by eyes you were running back and I held out my arm to try to catch you, but you just rammed into my arm and continued past. But eventually you came back to me – you just wanted to have fun. Another time I tried to catch you, I saw you pause to poo and I thought I had you. But then you shocked me into laughter (and disgust) when you stood up with poop still hanging out of your butt and began to run again. I gave up and started walking home, and after seeing that I stopped chasing, you also turned around and walked back to me. I didn’t know whether to lock you up in the cage for a bit to discipline you or to rub your tummy because I was happy that you were back, so I did both.
But then you really did leave. Whei moved to California and took you with her. She told me how scared you were to be put in a box and carried away, and how on the airplane she saw your box being loaded up on the plane. I remember visiting Whei and Ann in California and seeing you. You were just the same, but more trained and obedient. No more pooping or peeing in the house, learning to sit on command, and sleeping in designated areas. I remember going to sleep in the family room and waking up in the morning to be licked on my face.
Then came the bad news – you had cancer. Whei took you to the vet for chemotherapy, and you were able to live happily long enough for me to come this past summer. Even though you were energetic again I knew you were deteriorating inside. When I took you out for walks you couldn’t outrun me anymore, and you got tired much faster. You let me walk ahead of you. I pushed all negative thought into the back of my brain.
But then you really did leave. This time cancer took you away from Whei as you fell asleep in her arms. She gave you a new home in 2004. She gave you a happy life these past three years. And finally, though painfully with many tears, she has given you a peaceful ending.
I don’t care what anybody says, Kuma – you were the best. You touched the soft spots in the hearts of everyone in our family. I will miss your violent tail-wagging and gleeful foot-fidgeting. I will miss your enthusiastic greetings at the door. I will miss your smile.
Kuma, may you rest in peace.