Hello everyone. I want to thank all of you for the support in these last few critical months.
We have a corporate sponsor that has agreed to finance our operational fees, and to Brian at BJC Branding, you have our heart felt appreciation. You are what Cajuns call ‘Good People”. In a world full of cold digital promises, he is a man of integrity and community, and we could not more fully thank and endorse him as our corporate sponsor in the coming months.
Happy Birthday to our inspiration and mascot, Kathrine Anne O’Connor.
Eleven years is no small feat for a dog of her breed, much less a dog with Chronic Lupus. The years have flown by too quickly to contemplate, too far into her Autumn as it is for me to accept, and yet….. She still remains my Hero and my Best Friend.
From the early days, when She and I were young and a bit stupid, to the elder years.. a time we were both predicted to not live until, we have remained true.
We still find the meaning of life too sweet, when reflected in each others eyes to give up. If no one has ever been chosen by a dog to be their human, it’s not easy to comprehend.
It was in her third year, that we embarked on the grand adventure. To see all the world REALLY had to offer, in the face of illnesses that we both were told we would likely never survive more than a few months.
In the dead of winter,our dash to Boston was conceived.
The reason that all this came into being, would begin the day I packed everything I valued in my jeep on a wet rainy day in New Orleans, and left it all behind, for something more. Both of us would find help and healthcare in New England, but not before many lessons were learned by us both on who to trust and why. as well as how to be trust worthy and why.
The first time she got out of the Jeep in snow was in Delaware, and she climbed a snow bank to pee. Learning for the first time something that girl dogs who live in the snow understand… when you squat, make sure you don’t do it in a cold bank of ice. She blasted out of that snow like a jack rabbit, looked at her rear end, looked back at me, and quietly walked back to the jeep with a very annoyed gait, head held in high contempt of our new reality.
Now she always takes one look over her shoulder before she settles on the right spot to lower her bum … a trait she has taught me well. HA!
As the second day of the trip I began to think they were right in saying I would not make the trip and to not attempt it. To drive, so physically devastated, to a place that had highs at the time in the 20’s if it got sunny enough. My body was covered with bleeding cracks and lesions. When I slept at the hotel, she sat awake over me. The smell of blood in the air probably too sharp for her to get rest. Perhaps she sensed my pain. I will never truly know. I drove by day and she slept, and by night she stood guard over me.
Later when I began treatments that made me delirious for weeks, I am told she did the same thing, even at times trying to bite anyone that came near me, when I was unconscious or asleep. Someone I lived with in the early days would come in on occasion to check my pulse, ( as in to make sure I still had one), and Katey would leap from the end of the bed, cautiously watching whatever was happening. She left my side only to eat and relieve herself. After a weeks that no one believed I would live through, one day I woke up, and the gambit was to be a success. For now, it would seem, against all odds, with my one true companion by my side, I had risen once more from the ashes, a habit I am now fond of making in life. …lol.
Today, I write, with her in the chair beside me, to wish my faithful companion many many returns of the Birthday. As the inspiration for the Charity, Katey’s Keep, as well as a documentary film currently being produced, I KNOW that she has no comprehension that any of that matters.
And in THAT lies the beauty of what she is. Inspiration without expectation.
Stubborn that I am, she still has much work to do on a daily basis, and she does it through pain of every step, and WITH dignity of love freely given. When her diagnosis of Lupus came one day, and I learned that dogs with Lupus generally did not live long and suffered greatly, I became terrified yet determined.
Yet the days when I had lost hope and belief in humanity were upon me, and wanted little to do with it, I knew every day I had to wake up to watch over her as she had done for me when I was sick. She became my inspiration for life. To give her what she gave me. The protection of a relentless watchful eye.
Although I could not see a future for myself, I, like her, refused to see a future when my best friend still had needs that only I could give, unanswered.
Inspiration comes in many forms. Sometimes it is in big ways, when the dedication of one animal to her Human, inspires people I would never dreamed of ever knowing or meeting, to create a charity in her name.
Some days it is in the small ways. when we look out of the window together and I see her joy watching a squirrel tumble through the pear tree out back. I remember that life is spent in the minutes and days between doing “the BIG Stuff”. To sit and live in the eternal moment and have that eternal moment be joy in the beauty of the world just outside the window.
Together we have crossed the nation six times for various reasons, to celebrate life as we share it through each others eyes and to learn what it means to be responsible both to a bond shared between humans and dogs for tens of thousands of years, and to two living creatures who accept each other unconditionally, and are dedicated to caring for each other each in our own unique ways.
For Katey and I? The hard part is over. We neither fear nor focus on the end. We exist together in the NOW.
Our ages and our illnesses still persist, but that is what life is really about, anyway. To see that nothing will ever be permanent and to take the joy of the instant, and find strength in it to continue when you think you cannot.
Happy Birthday to Katey, and to Katey’s Keep, and to all those that are like her, and to the human beings they protect and stand by, we gladly share our joy.
I had decided to Move to Boston for health reasons. I packed up what I could in the Jeep, sold the house, put some things in storage, and hit the road. Before I left I went out and drove around the cemeteries of the city. Facing my own mortality, I was about to go to a strange city, with only my dog and jeep. I needed to feel connected to those from my home that had gone before me, to get the courage to leave.
Less than a year later, Katrina hit, and I know that if I had stayed there, I would have been one of those who had died. My home was within blocks from the 17th street canal levee break. I am simply too immobile, and I would never have left Katey behind.
This video serves as an Homage to the people who were lost to Katrina, the Dogs that were left behind, and the indomitable spirit of New Orleans. Although the New Orleans I knew, no longer exists, New Orleans will reinvent itself as it always has. Fires and floods have burned down the city, but it has always survived and adapted.
Un p’tit bec