Kailani has left us. The little puppy whose name meant “sea and sky” in Hawaiian grew up into a beautiful silver wolf. She was the alpha female of the main pack for many years and retired during the winter of 2011-2012. In retirement she was reunited with Tristan, whom she adored, and often her brother Renki, whom she tolerated.
Her loss was not unexpected, but we hoped it would not be so soon. This fall a mass or lump in her abdominal cavity led Dr. Becker to recommend exploratory surgery in October, after x-rays were inconclusive. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the lump was cancer, and there were many small nodules throughout Kailani’s mesenteries. Her condition was inoperable and we put her in hospice care, monitoring her closely, tweaking pain medications as needed, and trying to keep her eating. Though she lost weight during the fall she would eat, though sometimes only small amounts of favorite foods. Whatever she wanted to eat, she got. Medication could perk up her appetite and we also found that Renki was an effective appetite stimulant. She’d eat food to keep it away from him.
Kailani still had spunk enough to threaten Ayla and Timber through the fence on the day before Thanksgiving, though otherwise she seemed tired and only ate a small amount of kielbasa. On Thanksgiving she started having moderately labored breathing. She was not agitated, but her resting respiration rate was elevated. Dr. Becker came out in the evening and we sedated Kailani for further examination. Dr. Becker warned us that even sedating her to draw off fluid from the body cavity to ease her breathing, was risky. As Dr. Becker feared, complications arose when Kailani was anesthetized. We took this as a sign that we were pretty much at the end of what we could do to keep her comfortable. Dr. Becker did not think she was in pain, but very close to the end of her good time, so we said our good byes and Dr. Becker gave her the last mercy.
Of the many stories we tell about Kailani, one that comes to mind is an occasion in which she rolled on her back to demand a tummy rub and, in that posture, glared at Renki upside down. He refused to walk past her – her threat stare was that good – and she was guarding a steak from him. She was a beautiful, sometimes challenging, wolf who loved tummy rubs from good friends, and was eager to go out for walks. She will be remembered as a mighty huntress from the days when we did wolf-bison demonstrations, and wielder of an extremely powerful Death Stare.