Every once in a while, we come across a story that is truly remarkable… One that brings to light that even the most difficult dogs to place can overcome all obstacles with the help of someone very special. Kymmie was placed in Heather’s life for a reason, and Heather would say the same about Kymmie. It has not been an easy road, but Heather’s incredible love and devotion to Kymmie is unmatched. Kymmie is now 15 years old, and this is their beautiful story…
“Our story begins on a cold January evening. I was at the local non kill shelter as a volunteer for a new program called One by One. It was an initiative for people who wanted to help the dogs as a mentor…to spend time with them in a constructive way. I was paired up with a dog named Kymmie.
Upon seeing her I had no idea what breed she was, but she looked very scared. As they got her ready for me to take her out for a walk, it started to snow. I remember her pulling me towards the grass outside with so much enthusiasm, that she was shaking. I somehow instantly felt like her guardian. I told her that I would be with her no matter what, until the end. I whispered this in her ear and told her I loved her. I think she understood me. One volunteer said it looked like she had picked me to be her mommy. We relished the snowfall and our time together that evening.
Kymmie was brought to the shelter around Christmas…and she had mammary cancer. The shelter vet removed the cancer and she was spayed. I was determined to provide quality food for her after that. Every week I brought her food and baked healthy cookies for all of the pups who were recovering from surgery. She did a certain dance when she knew I was coming for her. A special light would shine in her eyes and she would come alive.
She was not a popular dog at the shelter, as the workers found out that she had many issues. She was not fond of men, being pulled by her collar, being restrained in any way……just to name a few. It was obvious she had a life of neglect, abuse, and isolation.
A few very special volunteers knew that she had been through a lot and understood that she was just communicating in her own way. For some reason, I completely understood her. Every week we would take her in the car and she would spend hours walking with me and my husband. In fact, she was even adopted a few times…only to be returned a few days later….the people said “she has awful separation anxiety, she showed nervousness when my toddler lunged at her neck, etc.”
When she was with me, all I saw was her smile and happiness protruding from every cell in her body. In fact, she always put her face towards the sun. For this reason, I began calling her Kymmie Sunflower. She became inspirational to me. We would visit and play with her for months, until one day, we tried to bring her home. She was very aggressive with our cats and she would guard me when my husband came towards me….so we took her back to the shelter, and each time we tried with her at home, I would be in tears, completely crushed. I just wanted to understand her and to communicate with her. It seemed impossible in the time frame we were given.
Her time was coming to an end, even at the no kill shelter. If I couldn’t make it work with her, they were going to euthanize her. I gave it a final try for a week and I could not succeed in helping her separation anxiety at all. She had so many issues, and was an older dog of at least ten years. I felt defeated and sad and scared. My heart was palipating so much at that time I even had to see a doctor. I could not believe that this was her ultimate fate.
A few rescue groups were called in, but they would not take her. But one person did. Her name was Suzanne. She was her angel that day and the answer to my prayers. She came and took Kymmie on the spot. She loved her unconditionally and let me keep in touch with them. Kymmie lived with two other GSP dogs for a few weeks who taught her manners and how to trust people. I was finally allowed a visit to see her one day…..I could not believe how well she was doing and how affectionate she was. But somehow we all knew that Kymmie belonged with me.
It was fate when Suzanne asked me if I would give it one last try with her at our house. And do you know what? It worked. Something inside of her clicked and she has been with us ever since. It’s been over four years and she is thriving. My husband, family, and friends all understand our lifestyle now and can see how far she has come. A few people have told me that I was crazy, but it only fueled my fire even more to help her to become more confident and secure with us and herself. She loves my husband very much and they have a wonderful bond. Suzanne is considered Kymmie’s “gramma” and all of the people who helped her at the shelter see her progress on FaceBook….providing so much support for us still.
I practice positive reinforcement, and we worked with a trainer who helped us to build her confidence….she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and treated successfully. (I am sure made her feel poorly a lot of the time.) She uses a thundershirt, she gets a high quality diet, and most of all….love.
Love, time, attention, and understanding. We accepted her where she was at, and tried to build on it from there. We didn’t try to change or punish her in any way ever. She will never be “normal” and that is okay with us”.
At times, I am overwhelmed by the feeling of love and joy she brings me. She is part of my life’s work, she is healing me also as we go on our journey together. I feel very fulfilled in life caring for her. I am sure she has made me a better person in many ways. And yes, she successfully lives with five cats and does very well with them in case you are wondering!
Is there value in devoting yourself to an animal who has special needs? Absolutely. Is it fulfilling to see them succeed and grow, when given another chance for a good life? Absolutely. Did she completely change our lives around? Yes. In more wonderful ways than I can describe. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Because in fact, she is like my heartbeat”.
Update: Kymmie passed away at the age of 16 1/2 on August 20, 2015. Heather and Kymmie’s story is one that we will never forget. The unconditional love was immeasurable. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Heather and her husband Yves. We thank you for sharing your story with us, for it is one of the most beautiful love stories we have ever heard. Rest peacefully Kymmie…