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RIP: Shyla the dog

For Becky Nappi blog
For Becky Nappi blog

My niece's dog, Shyla, a mini chihuahua, was killed in a tragic way last week. A deer in the wilderness behind their Spokane Valley home kicked her in the head. The doe had just given birth to a fawn and was protecting her baby, a beautiful instinct.

But Shyla's death, so sudden, was a shock, especially to my niece Nichole who adopted Shyla 10 months ago from a family friend when Shyla was 4. Nichole took her everywhere with her -- to stores, to Super Cuts, even to The Spokesman-Review for Halloween trick or treating here. (Often hidden in a coat.) She was so little, Shyla, that she slept in a Build-A-Bear bed.

Shyla was buried on their property and I offered to do a little memorial ceremony, mostly for Nichole, but also for her kids, my great-nephews. I'm a big believer in rituals, but it was a challenge to come up with something appropriate -- and short -- for Shyla.

Here's what I came up with. I gathered some basalt rocks. And Shyla's water bowl and said:

Dear Lord, of all creation. Thank you for giving us Shyla, 4 pounds of dog but 4 tons of love, especially for Nichole. Thank you for giving us Shyla for 10 months, which was really 70 months in dog years and forever in our hearts. Thank you for giving us Shyla, 5 years old, but with the soul of an older dog and the feistiness of a puppy. With this water, we symbolize all our tears for Shyla, and may our tears heal our sorrows. Shyla, with these basalt rocks, as old as the river that flows by them, we now seal your final resting place and share our loving memories as we take turns placing these rocks on your grave.


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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.