Koko had been in our lives for so long, it was hard to even accept her passing. It seems like forever ago that I came home from a friend’s house to find that little brown and white puppy on the couch, when in reality it was nearly 13 years ago. I fell in love at first sight, her petite brown body was adorned with white patches on her paws, chest, and a single stripe running up her snout. We had visited her mother and the rest of the puppies weeks before, but I was completely clueless to the fact that my mother was going to bring one home, clueless to the fact that in a short few weeks I would have something I’d dreamed of for all of my then 6 years: a puppy to call my own. Koko, or as we playfully nicknamed her, Kokonut, grew up along side me in the years following, but we weren’t alone. My mother worked from home as a daycare provider, which meant that I wasn’t the only one that adored her dearly. A couple of the children even got to go with my mom when she picked the puppy up. Growing up in such an environment, Koko grew up into an incredibly patient and well mannered dog. Kids would cuddle her during naps, use her as a pillow, and some of the younger ones would even sit on her if given the chance. In fact, the only time Koko ever caused anyone injury was when she got super excited. We affectionately joked about her tail being made of steel for years, swatting people anywhere from the shins to the face, depending on age and height. One of her more comical habits was running from one end of the house to the other as fast as she could, Koko’s personal way of expelling all that extra energy in a pinch. If her tail wasn’t enough, stepping into the path of this rambunctious sprint almost always ended in a collision of fur and confusion. One time she even misjudged her own stopping distance and slammed right into our screen door, which was older and constructed of sheet metal, instead of the more commonplace wire screening. This habit gave her yet another nickname, and we began to call her The Nut in addition to her other names. My father, mother, sister, and I all had unique relationships with her, and in no time at all she was just another member of the family. Gradually she stopped running around the house like crazy, although her tail remained a force to be reckoned with up until just a few years ago. She listened the most when my dad talked to her, came to mom whenever she needed food or to go outside, and my sister and I would give her endless love whenever we saw her. She was truly a character, and as with any character, it was hard to see her go. The realization that the time was coming came to me during my first year away at college. My pup was a ripe old age of 12 years old, and her years of running and smashing into walls at full speed had caught up to her. Koko first started having trouble getting up onto my mother’s bed at night, and over the months even walking outside to use the restroom became too much at times. Much to everyone’s dismay, we all knew that the time had come. I was home for a few weeks over the summer after school, and with time running out to let her go while she was still comfortable, we set a date. I woke up, and just like every other big moment in life, it didn’t seem real. Dr. Cooney arrived and explained the process to us, tears began to flow before she could even finish. We gave Koko a big slice of pepperoni and sausage pizza for her last meal, a favorite of hers to steal from unsuspecting children for as long as we could remember. Kathleen injected her with the sedative as she was distracted, and without feeling a thing she fell into a deep sleep. True to herself, Koko somehow made us laugh even in her final moments, making the same noises she used to make when she would dream about chasing bunnies. Crying and laughing simultaneously as she did so, my mother, sister, and I each gave her a final hug and kiss before the final injection was made. Nearly 13 years to the day she was born, we sent Koko off to be in peace. We lost one of our most cherished family members that day, but we couldn’t have wished for it to happen in a better way. Home to Heaven helped us focus on the puppy we raised and the beautiful dog she’d grown into, and made her passing easier than we could ever have hoped for. We’ll miss her, but she went peacefully and without pain, which is all we could have ever asked for. We’ll miss you Kokonut. From all of our hearts, Sterling, Savannah, Mom, Dad, and every other soul that had the pleasure to meet our beloved Koko.
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