Kiefer was a good dog. He was a really good dog.
I never gave him enough credit for that. The older he got, the better he was. That is to say, the older he got, the more he mellowed out from his young hyperactive self. Kief was always a little wired growing up. This was especially evident anytime he was being fed his dinner with the other dogs. It was like he was so excited to eat that he would lose control of himself. His eyes would get so unbelievably wide that you could see the entire whites of them, while he bounced up and down on his front legs waiting for his dog dish to be set down, tail wagging at hyper-speed. And what a tail. I truly believe that I will never encounter another dog with a tail harder or more impervious to anything than Kiefer's was.
I know that for the longest time, I misunderstood Kief. I was young and impatient and easily bothered by the nagging of a hyperactive dog. When Kief and I were both younger, I always failed to recognize that he couldn't help the way he was. He couldn't help stepping on my heels as he followed me into the house, his dog dish in my hand. After spending the better part of the day outside, he couldn't help barging in the front door as I would open it to go in the house. He couldn't help tearing open packages that the UPS Man dropped over the gate, thinking that food was inside. He couldn't help jumping up at the car as I pulled into the parking area because he was so excited that someone else was home. He couldn't help tearing open a trash bag to see what scraps and leftovers were inside that we were throwing out. And he could never help getting his paws up on the table or the counter to snag what was available to eat up there when nobody was around, whether they be cookies, a cake, a pie, or a loaf of bread.
In my failing to recognize that Kiefer simply could not help doing those things, that he was a dog and that's what dogs do, I now regret not being better to him when we were both younger. I regret being cruel at times and I regret smacking him on the head to punish him for those things he would do. I regret pushing him away when he would come looking for attention. I regret yelling at him the way I would when I had to clean up the messes he made. That said, the best thing about Keifer was how forgiving he was. Some say that all dogs are forgiving because they all just want their owner to love them but I am firmly convinced that Kiefer set a new standard in forgiveness. All he ever wanted was to please and to be loved. He never ever, not once, held a grudge against the hand that hit him or the voice that yelled.
I will miss his huge feet, his granite tail, his huge wide eyes, his barrel chest, the top of his head, and his big thick ears. I will miss his barking as I pull up to the house, and his howling with the sirens of fire trucks and ambulances as they scream by. I will miss watching him jump up on my parents' bed to give my dad a big hug as he lay down watching TV. I will miss how he would lean into my legs as I stood, just to let me know that he was there and that he wanted me to pet him. I will miss how he would work his nose and then his whole head up under my hand, just to force the issue.
It was only recently that my mom (credit to her) gradually turned Kiefer from "outside dog" to "inside dog" and I wish I could have been around for more of his time indoors. Sure, he slept a lot as he got older but it was fun to have him lumbering around the house and lying about in the kitchen. It was nice sharing the couch with him while I watched a movie. It was fun having him around in the kitchen, even if he was usually in the way. It was great that once he was indoors more often, he stopped stealing food off the counter and tearing open trash bags. I wish I had loved Kiefer a little better when we were younger but I sure did love him a lot by the end.
Thanks for your forgiveness, Kiefer. You were a great, great dog. I'm going to miss you.