Long term diseases—Ketzl, at 9, has had DM for 3 years, a third of her life—are tough on memory. Tough because now is so much more vivid than then. And when I remember Ketzl after her battle is finally over, I don’t want to forget the dog she was.

It’s been well over a year since Ketzl’s disease forced her into a wheelchair, and even that is coming to the end of its useful life. The progression seems to have reached a critical mass, and while just a month or so ago I mentioned Ketzl was having placement problems with her left front paw, the right has now succumbed as well.

But it wasn’t that long ago—just a few years—when Ketzl was a dog who loved—just loved—to run.

Ketzl and I would walk daily around town, sometimes at 80 Acres (Cat Rock Park), some conservation land a stone’s throw from my house, and sometimes around the Weston Reservoir.

As long as it wasn’t too hot, she’d attack the trail with enthusiasm, especially since she knew she’d get to wade in a pond, stream or pool somewhere along the way.

Half way around was always a good place to take a rest and dry off from the swim.

And, near the end, she’d race me to the end of the trail… and would always win.

Neither Ketzl nor I are good long-distance runners, but we loved sprinting together, dashing to the next interesting thing on the trail, or to the top of the next rise.

One of my very fondest memories of her comes after her second TPLO, near the end of 2001. Recovery complete, we finally were able to take our daily walks again. After the repair of a cruciate tear, you always wonder how much athletic function a dog will get back, so I was a bit nervous as we hit the trail and climbed our usual hill.

Ketzl did great going up, and after the crest, as we came down the other side, she gave me “the look” (see picture #2 above) at one of the places we’d always sprint—the look that said “I am so going to kick your ass again”. Challenge met, we set off at top speed, avoiding roots and rocks, curling around trees, pretty much neck and neck.

The trail forked slightly and, to avoid a downed tree, I took our usual left branch. Ketzl, though, had other ideas. A burst of speed and then—Oh!—she leapt up, over, and broke into the clearing ahead. I was flabbergasted. I’d never seen her do anything that before, ever… and waiting there in the grass, she looked at me as if it was nothing.

And that’s how I want to remember her: not now, near the end, with her body failing her, but then—at the peak of her physical ability—in mid leap, stretched out and soaring over that tree, ears back, finally able to fly.