The Secret My Dog Has Known About Me For 16 Years

If you love your dog, you might enjoy my new book, “Hope Possible: A Network News Anchor’s Thoughts On Losing Her Job, Finding Love, A New Career, And My Dog, Always My Dog.” It includes a number of essays about loving your dog.

Hope Possible Final Front cover

I’m thinking about my dog.

Always, my dog.

And the heavy load.

Such a heavy load.

The thoughts come each day as we wrap up our morning walk.

It’s the only walk DarlaDog feels the need for these days.

She’s turning the corner on 16-years-old.

What she wants, she gets.

We go up one block.

And back.

That is the walk.


As we wrap up, she trots, yes, trots down the dark street, no doubt thoughts of kibble and ground beef treats for breakfast fueling her on.

And then we get there.

To the steps.

17 stone steps from the street leading up to our front door.

She’s known these steps each of her 16 years.

And yet now,

Now, each day, she stops.

Looks up at the steps.

Looks at me.

Looks at the steps.

Looks straight ahead.

She needs a moment.


The steps she used to scamper up with Wonder Dog super powers, now look like scaling the side of the Swiss Alps with greased paws.

She needs to think about it a moment or six before she’s ready.

She looks over to me.

“We can do this,” I say.

She gets in position.

Our ballet begins.

As she takes that first hop, her front legs listen, ready to propel her up where her mind has decided she wants to go.

I know her back legs will not have the strength to follow.

So, I catch her mid-hop, boosting those back legs up each of those 17 stairs.

There is a technique to our dance.

I’m not carrying her. She’s too proud, and honestly a touch too heavy, for that.

It’s more like we meld into one.

Our own mythological creature.

We are half-dog and half-woman.


“Oh, bless you for carrying her heavy load up those stairs,” you might say.

That would be sweet.

And, you would be wrong.

See, to love a dog, is to know she is not the heavy load.

I’m not the one carrying her.

It is she who has carried me.

Carried me since the day I brought her home as a yellow fluff ball from the Humane Society.

I didn’t realize all that sweet blonde puppy would be to me.

Did you know before you brought your pup home, Dear Fellow Dog Lover?

All that she would do for you?

Mine has carried me through losing my job, losing my father, many broken hearts.

Carried me into a new career, welcoming a new husband and two kids into our home.

Carried my heart every single day of these 16 years.

I have been one heavy load.

I know it.

She’s never complained once.

Just like she doesn’t complain about those steps.

My mind knows our mornings conquering those steps together are limited.

And so, my heart cherishes every extra boost of her weakened back legs.

That’s no heavy load.

That’s my honor.

That’s my dog.

That’s one of the best moments of my day.

Please catch my weekly newspaper column in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Dayton Daily News, and other newspapers across the country.

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The Secret My Dog Has Known About Me For 16 Years

by DarynKagan time to read: 2 min
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