Kirby belonged to my neighbor. Since we are friends, I would often have tea at his home, and the dog became familiar with me. Kirby was a fifty-pound brown-and-white Siberian husky, very fetching and surprisingly even-tempered even with a relative stranger like me. That tempted me to offer, on an occasion, to take Kirby out for a walk when my neighbor, because of an emergency, could not.
I soon started declining first-hour meeting with specious excuses, and since the neighbor had by now entrusted me with the combination to their home, in the rare instance I could not escape an early meeting, I would take out Kirby for a walk at an unearthly hour. Kirby would be often thirsty at the end of our run, and I gradually got in the habit of pouring her some fresh water at the end of our tryst. Eventually I started supplementing the water with the dry food breakfast she liked.
It impressed me that Kirby seldom evinced discomfort in the presence of other dogs. Most dogs, even the disciplined ones, bark, sometimes uncontrollably, when other dogs appear on the scene. Kirby didn’t. It was notable because Kirby was a spirited creature. In her younger days, her owner told me, she would often run out, if the door was left open, and disappear for hours. On one occasion, she had disappeared during her master’s trip to another town and simply could not be found. Her master returned home, disconsolate, but Kirby turned up after six weeks: she had found her way, across more than a hundred miles, and reached home, hungry and filthy, but intact.
That is what I most remember of Kirby: the endless yearning for the world outside, the craving to explore the unseen and the unknown, the eagerness to see even the familiar road to explore what is new or changed. Even as she grew older, her vision blurred and her hearing faded, her taste for life remained undiminished and her desire to experience the universe continued.
Age and infirmity eventually took their toll, and Kirby had to be put to sleep. I still walk around the lake but without a companion. I stand on the bridge as before and watch the sun rise, and ponder what remains to explore.