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Column: Goodbye, Kimba — Remembering a lost pet

JJ Hoffman recently lost a beloved family member, his family's 15-year-old golden retriever Kimba. (Photo courtesy of Rohina Hoffman)

It’s not easy losing a pet. Our almost 15-year-old golden retriever passed away about a month ago. We mourned her by looking at old photos from when she was just a puppy all the way to her 13th birthday, spent in the hospital. We planned a memorial ceremony for her and put a stone with her name in her favorite spot in the backyard. We also kept some of her snow-white furs and had paw prints made to remember her.

Kimba Hoffman was one of the most resilient and loyal beings I knew. She has been with my family and me since I was two years old. Every day after school she would be there, peering out the door, waiting for me to come home. 

Kimba was always an explorer. There is an area behind our pool where there is a forest of trees. She would “secure the perimeter” and loved walking back there. Even in her last few days, as unstable and fragile her legs were, she would still attempt to go behind the waterfall to satisfy that inner scout of hers.

Kimba at her favorite spot behind our pool (via Rohina Hoffman).

On Christmas Eve 2018, she underwent life-saving surgery to remove cancer from her liver. She survived this major operation and we celebrated her birthday in the hospital with her. Throughout her life, she had sustained multiple broken bones and had to wear casts and “the cone of shame” often. Despite these injuries, she would still find the resilience to play with her nephew, Dusty, and keep us company around the house.

Kimba at her surgery in 2018 (via Rohina Hoffman).

Kimba had a cat-like personality. She enjoyed being near us — the very thought of us leaving her alone made her bark for help — but never insisted on getting too close to us and rather enjoyed her own personal space. She was also a studious dog; she often accompanied us in our homework endeavors in elementary school and we nicknamed math that was easy to do “Kimba Math.”

Since August, my dad, sister and I slept on air mattresses downstairs with her and we offered her any type of food she would want — only to find out the next day that her appetite completely changed. Too weak to walk, we carried her around to areas around the house.

On Oct. 22, at 11 a.m., we said our final goodbye to her. Lying on my blown-up air mattress, I picked her up to rotate her body as she was unable to move herself. She opened her mouth with her gray-looking tongue, stretched her limbs and raised her head to get a last look at my sister and me. I was petrified and confused as to what was happening, but I stayed with her. Her eyes stayed glassy and open, she stopped breathing and continued her exploration. 

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