Yitzchak Buxbaum taught in the name of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach z'l that the Talmud teaches that all animals have souls except for dogs. Shlomo taught that this means that other animals keep their souls, but when a dog truly loves a person, the dog gives his/her entire soul over to that person wholeheartedly.
All dogs are special to their owners but others felt that Kushi was a fantastic dog. She was intelligent and loving, thought she should be treated like a child and often was, and won over even many who were indifferent to dogs at best.
Kushi was born in State College, PA., in July of 1982. She found a home with Jeffrey Marker and Paula Freedman by putting an ad in the local paper stating that she was a cute black puppy looking for a home. This was facilitated by the good offices of PAWS, and it was love at first sight. Paula took Kushi to Puppy kindergarten, where she won a glass as most improved puppy. She loved to run in the woods and mountains of central Pennsylvania, and to walk in the streams. Once, when the creek froze solid, she was amazed when her legs did not go in. She was afraid of water over her head until she was almost a year old. Jeff took her to a quarry and when he swam across, she did not want to be left alone, so she plunged in and dogpaddled after him. Once she had this experience she took every occasion to go swimming.
When she was one, they all moved to Hoboken, NJ. Jeffrey became rabbi of the United Synagogue of Hoboken, where they lived over the shul. One of the first Shabbats there the door to the apartment was left open and Kushi was found on the pulpit next to Jeffrey, wagging her tail. The grandmother of the baby being name that week exclaimed "There's a dog in the shul!" and the synagogue president led her back upstairs. During the four years in Hoboken it was her custom to come downstairs and join the congregation at kiddush, where she got lots of treats. After a while, even if the door was left open, she would stay upstairs until she heard the closing hymn "Adon Olam," and then she would come down. She loved to run around the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology, a block from her home, often running around the buildings. She learned about streets, curbs, to stay out of traffic, and how to be a safe city dog.
Kushi loved visiting her "grandparents," Jeff's parents, in Bethesda, MD, where she was an honored member of the family. She got all excited when she recognized their apartment building, and ran to the door of their apartment. Hannah had always been afraid of dogs, but Kushi won her over, and gained the status of "granddog." She especially loved to go for walks in Cabin John Park. When Jeff's father Joe died in 1994, she was confused when he was no longer there, and would look around the apartment, trying to find him.
Kushi moved to Brooklyn, NY, in 1987. She stopped being a shul dog, but was very popular, and loved the big city and all the people and dogs. She loved Prospect Park, especially swimming after sticks thrown into the lake. She kept her puppyish desire to play until her final illness, and people were amazed when told her age. She had the energy and disposition of dogs half her age. Though she loved the city, she considered it a special treat to get to the country and go hiking and swimming in the mountains.
In 1988, her human sister Rena Lillit came into her life. She was always gentle with small children, knowing instinctively not to jump on them like she could grown-ups, but her relationship with Rena was always like a sibling. When Rena was an infant and in her father's arms, Kushi would gently but firmly insist that she belonged there too, so Jeff would often give a bottle with two in his lap. When Rena was two, the tables turned and she demanded attention whenever Kushi was being catered to. As time went by, they developed a more balanced relationship of mutual love. Kushi's special job was to spend time in Rena's room at bed time so Rena would not be alone and not be scared.
In early 1995, there seemed to be a change in Kushi's breathing, but there was no clear cause. In June, she was diagnosed with a tumor in her snout/sinus area. Dr. Gerald Buchoff, her vet since her move to NJ, did surgery, but it was extensive and the pathology report was not good. She had many major and minor procedures, but in between she maintained some semblance of her good life, but there was a slow deterioration evident. In November she was having a harder and harder time doing all the things she had done all her life, like walk down the street, and was losing her sense of where and who she was. Just before Thanksgiving she reached the point where she was just staring into space most of the time, and when taken out did not know what to do, and Jeff and Paula had to face the fact that her life was at an end. Acting on that decision was perhaps the hardest thing they have ever done.
Kushi was a true loving companion to our entire family. She was more than a dog to all of us as testified by her appearing in formal family portraits. We gave her the best home and fullest love that we could. Her loving canine spirit lives on in our memories and the memories of all who knew her.