January 21, 2003 – May 6, 2016
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.”
When Kippa woke me at 5:30AM on Friday morning, May 6, 2016. I knew it was her way of telling me the time had come. Just weeks before, her cancer had returned, surgery and treatments had failed, and she was ready to “Go Over the Rainbow Bridge.”
Kippa was special. She had “rescued” me following the March 2003 deaths of my dad, and Vic, the old Lab that we had rescued while living in Raleigh. Her mom was a beautiful English Springer, and her dad was a neighbor’s handsome black Lab. She would grow up to have her dad’s size and color, and her mom’s beautiful wavy coat.
On the Sunday morning after Vic’s passing, I found the English Springer/Labrador Retriever litter while reading the classifieds of the Sunday newspaper. A phone call, and the encouragement of our children, led to “Nana” and me driving to Edisto Island the following Tuesday to meet the little girl I had read about. When the owner picked her up for me to see, and I started rubbing her head and ears, her little paws locked around my wrist. The owner smiled, “I think you’ve been adopted.” She hung on long enough for “Nana” to walk back to the car, retrieve my camera, and return to shoot a pic.
As we drove home, “Nana” asked what I wanted to name her. My dad’s nickname in school was Kip. Because he’d been my best friend, I wanted to name her after him, but the names Kip or Kippy didn’t fit the newest addition to our family. “What about Kippa?” she asked. Perfect. The little girl from Edisto Island would be named Kippa.
On Thursday, two days after bringing her home, I took her to our veterinarian, Dr. Scott Senf, of Animal Medical Center – Mount Pleasant. Scott and the vet techs loved the little ball of black fur — and she loved the treats they gave her. At 1:30AM on Friday morning, Nana woke me with the words, “Your little girl is calling you.” When I got downstairs to her “condo” in our dining room, she was whining and pawing at the condo’s gate. When I let her out, she ran straight to the front door and continued pawing. The minute I opened the door, she ran into the front yard, squatted, and relieved herself of a bad case of diarrhea. She got me up one more time that Friday morning, but at only ten weeks old, she knew to do her “business” outside, not in her condo or the house. For the next thirteen years, her intelligence never ceased to amaze us.
Labs are water dogs, and Kippa was no exception. She may not have been a “boatyard dog,” but she was definitely a “cruising canine.” At five months old, she spent eight days with us, cruising aboard our restored Cargile Cruiser, SunSmiles, and to the day we sold the boat she never had an accident onboard. In her mind, she owned that boat. From the moment she jumped out of the car at the marina, she knew exactly what needed to be done before running down the dock and waiting for permission to board the boat. On the first day of our eight-day cruise, she mastered climbing the three-step ladder from the raised cockpit to the sundeck to join us at the helm.
When Kippa was ten, we adopted Kate through the Animal Adoption and Rescue Foundation of Winston-Salem, NC. Kippa accepted the little brown puppy as if it was her own. We credit Kippa with teaching Kate what our “pack” expected of her.
Though Kippa was obsessed with retrieving tennis balls, she was completely tolerant of Kate, the quick little puppy, outrunning her to the ball. I will forever treasure my video of Kippa slowly loping after her prized tennis ball the day before the she went “Over the Rainbow Bridge.”
Our vet, Dr. Scott Senf, of Animal Medical Center of Mount Pleasant was right, our four-legged family members will let us know in their own way when it’s time for them to leave us. At 5:30AM on May 6, 2016, Kippa let me know it was time for her to join Vic, Sullivan, Prince, BamBam, and Babs, “Over the Rainbow Bridge.” As soon as the practice opened, I called Scott. He was out of town, but Dr. Steven Epstein and the practice’s senior vet tech, Dawn, came to our home and took precious Kippa’s pain away while she lay on her bed as her “Mom” and I held her and whispered our love and goodbyes.
Today, May 6, 2021, we have no doubt that Kippa is Resting In Peace, with her gentle and loving nature, she has God smiling every day.
Fair winds and following seas, Kippa Lou. Our love will not allow us to ever forget you.
Dad, Mom, and Kate