This is a tribute to Kaitlyn (11/1/1993-11/16/2007), a canine also known as Big Dog, Kaitlyn Dog Bolin, Big Black Dog, Big Fat Dog, Katers, Tater and Katie.
May 28, 1994 – that was the day Katie came into our lives. We had just lost our first dog, Jake, in a terrible accident. Our friends, Dave and Cathy Finnerty, drove us out to North Shore Animal League on Long Island to adopt a new dog. We had no idea how profoundly our lives would be changed.
Once at the shelter, we walked down the aisles of cages. On my left, I saw a beautiful black dog that looked a lot like a Lab, but thinner with a more unique, almost regal face. As I approached her cage, she leaped up and planted her front paws near the top of the cage. I leaned toward her to say “Hi!” and she planted kiss after kiss on my face.
I noticed that she had a small tuft of white hair on her chest. She was beautiful. We chose her, but – in essence, she really chose us. And we are so glad she did.
We brought her home to our small apartment in Jersey City, New Jersey and tried to make her sleep in a crate next to our bed, but she would have none of that. Even though we had only a super-single converted waterbed, Big Dog thought there was more than enough room for her. Eventually, we gave in and let her sleep with us.
Eventually, we moved out of that small apartment and into a house in Hazlet, along the north part of the Jersey shore. Katie adapted well to playing in her large backyard so we decided she needed a playmate. We chose a Weimaraner and named him Samson.
Although Katie generally disliked other dogs, she took to Sam right away. I remember them chasing each other around the backyard, running and jumping as they tackled one another over and over again.
After a year or so in Hazlet, we moved across the country to Parker, Colorado, which is where Katie lived out the majority of her life. She loved to play in the backyard, go camping, and – more than anything else – go for a ride in the car.
The trip from New Jersey to Colorado was also the source of one of our fondest Big Dog memories. My wife Karleen drove our Jeep on that trip with Katie and Samson riding in the back. She had packed some bananas to eat as snacks. Late the first evening, while traversing the mountains of Pennsylvania, Karleen smelled something that was suspiciously like banana.
Karleen flipped on the interior lights in the car and saw (in the rearview mirror) Big Dog with a banana held daintily between her big front paws, half-eaten (peel and all). The look on Katie’s face was a priceless – “Uh oh! I’m busted!” To this day, it cracks us up that she was able to quietly steal a banana and eat over half of it before being caught – and all this while keeping it a secret from Sam, too.
We are certain that there will never be another dog with as much personality as Katie. When our first child, Seth, was born, Katie stayed near him at all times. She slept under his crib when he was napping. If he woke up and started crying, she would immediately find us and start barking. She was obviously a good mother even though she never had pups of her own.
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