I recently had to say goodbye to my sweet Koda. I am not sure there are too many things in our lives that are more painful than saying goodbye to our loved ones, especially our four legged ones. I rarely share this part of myself with anyone but Koda was such a special soul that has dramatically changed my life I felt compelled to share some of his story, our story.
Koda was a rescue that came to our family as a young kitten. He was an Egyptian Mau that for some reason the owners surrendered and felt they could not care for him. He was a wild kitten - chewing things like a puppy, shredding toilet paper and paper towels, chewing holes in sweaters - you name it!! I am sure that was why he was given up. Since I have horses and live rurally, going outside was not a great option, so we compromised and he went for walks - like a dog - in his harness. He had many favorites - walks outside, lots of playing "monster under the covers" when the beds were being made, and of course stuffed mousies were constantly being lost under the furniture.
He was a big guy usually weighing in at 16-18 pounds and of LOVED to eat!! Thankfully his mom was happy to be a cat slave and he always had access to great foods!
In 2018 I noticed he was "off". He had jumped down off the counter and seemed really sore in his neck and shoulder. I gave it a couple of days and when he did not improve much we went to see the vet. I had just moved back to the area so needed to establish a new relationship with a veterinarian so went with a friends recommend. The vet thought I was crazy since he showed no signs of anything and was very dismissive. I decided to call a friend and ask about a mobile vet she used to use that did acupuncture. The vet was no longer mobile - she was working for the Canine Orthopedic Clinic in town but was happy to have Koda come in. So....packed him up and off we went to the "dog clinic" for "Cat-upuncture"!!
He absolutely LOVED it!! He would lay on the table and purr while getting his treatment. We had some improvement and things were moving forward until he jumped down off the counter again. Anyone who has tried to keep a cat off of something understands how this story goes! We worked with several different vets at the orthopedic center - it began to be a contest as to who got to treat the kitty. He even did laser therapy and hydro-therapy several different times and became quite the celebrity.
After several months of treatment and a slow downward progression with Koda starting to lose mobility in his hind legs, we finally decided to do an MRI to get to the bottom of what was going on. Sadly the results were not good - brain cancer that had metastasized to his spine and was beginning to press on the spinal cord which is why is was having trouble walking. The vet at the clinic sat on the floor with me and we cried together as he delivered the results. Having worked in clinics for years I asked the hard question of "what should I expect and when". The vet looked at me and said "I have no idea what to tell you - he has already beaten all the odds, I looked before you came in. Normal time frame for this cancer is 2 weeks from diagnosis to death and you have already been doing this for months. Keep doing whatever you are doing". This diagnosis came in July of 2018.
It was a long haul and many times I questioned my sanity - but having had so many special animals I knew there was also a message in this for me since Koda was only 8 and a healthy guy up to this point. I reached out to a couple of different animal communicators and worked with them, when one of them finally had the courage to ask me the question of "are you ready to hear something hard?". Koda wanted me to realize how paralyzed I was - he was my souls wake up call.
I started Big Bear Pet in 2011 after being badly burned by a previous business partner and I literally had $3000 in capital to begin again. I started over with my daughter still at home and worked two jobs so I could just keep turning the inventory and leave any profit in the company to be able to grow. It was crazy to say the least and I still was able to be a mom and participate in all my daughters high school activities as well. My daughter went off to college in 2014 so working at night became easier. I had done this for so long that I was getting burned out and not seeing an end in sight to the "lack of capital hamster wheel". The company would grow - which required more money to keep up - which required me to keep working. I could not see how to do things differently. I was literally paralyzed in my thinking. Several people suggested Shark Tank but I could not imagine that working - it would become about going big and having a better bottom line - not producing a high quality product.
I went searching and ended up enrolling in a year long program for Equine Assisted Coaching. It has been an amazing journey so far. I will finish the program in April of this year. I have been a horsey girl forever and it has felt good to get back to horses in this way. As a result of this program I have received many hours of coaching and been exposed to some amazing programs and other entrepreneurs. I heard Roger Hamilton a multi-gazillionaire (OK - not sure how much he is worth) talking about conscious capitalism and how to evolve yourself as a business owner so you are able to "step away from the stage and the music keeps playing". I realized that in my heart I truly love animals - I truly love business - I just need to find a way to make that work more efficiently so I am at my best. Once I changed my thought process the new "partnership" I have with Anderson's Pet Food just fell into my lap. Rarely do two different manufacturers work together, but when I pitched the idea to Dan the owner everything seemed to click. He is not selling online and I don't want to do the physical part of distribution and packing boxes. We will be able to do what we do well, help each other, and continue to grow without the crazy making. I will also have time to work with both teens and business owners in the coaching arena and do what I love sharing my horses.
Until I had to work through Koda's paralysis over the two years I wasn't aware of my own paralyzed thinking and need for growth. Koda gave me such a tremendous, selfless gift in showing me the possibility of who and what we can become when we stay strong, fully present and true to ourselves.
I miss my sweet Koda terribly and was somewhat reluctant to write and share but think all pet parents experience the same deep love and profound loss when we have to say goodbye. I also know we all share the same wonder and awe of what our animals are capable of giving and showing us that sometimes no one else can. They truly are angels with fur and I am deeply honored that I get to be a part of caring for your treasured friend.