This is my dog Keesho as a puppy, who was my best friend and companion till cancer took her life at the age of ten. This was a long time ago.
I was living on Squatters’ Row in a cabin in the Yukon outside of Whitehorse and one day a dog down the road “Gypsy” gave birth to six puppies. I went to have a look but there was only one left and she was the cutest little fluff-ball hiding beneath the stairs of the cabin. She looked at me with her sad, brooding eyes and I at her and it was love at first sight. I named her Keesho.
My place was a little cabin in the woods and life back then was slow and easy. There was a creek filled with brook trout, and running around were lots of small animals such as red squirrels, grouse, and foxes. That suited Keesho just fine and she spent her days chasing after them though never hurting them. We’d go for endless walks in the forest, wade in nearby lakes, pick berries. Yes, we lived the simple life. When we went to town she would ride in the back of the pickup truck with the wind in her face. Once in town, she waited patiently until I finished my errands. We would go on trips – all around the Yukon and Alaska – Dawson, Haines, Carcross, Fairbanks, Top of the World Highway, the Dempster. We went everywhere together. When I was sad she was sad, when I was happy she would jump and wag her tail.
Eventually, our days in the Far North came to an end and we moved to the big city of Toronto. Keesho, being a bush dog adapted surprisingly well – she took to riding streetcars, scouring the streets for sausages, exploring back alleys. When we traveled to the Maritimes, she loved it, especially the ferry ride to Prince Edward Island and not to forget the beautiful Cabot Trail. We went to New York City together and she spent time walking and sniffing around Soho, the Lower East Side, and Times Square. In Florida, she loved the Keys and splashing around in the Gulf of Mexico.
Then one day I found lumps on her chest. It was a diagnosis I couldn’t bear to hear. The vet said the cancer had spread and was inoperable. Within a few weeks, my best friend was gone forever.
But she wasn’t gone forever, not really; I dream about her from time to time and she always brings a smile to my face.