Dear Callie Dog,
A human neighbor saw you the day before yesterday and she commented that you looked “old.” I was offended on your behalf and hurt and I tried not to show it but inside I was sad and angry and yes, scared. Human people don’t go up to other people and say “you really look old.” I know they wouldn’t do that so why on earth did she have to say it about you? Don’t worry sweet dog, sometimes humans have no manners.
If you can no longer jump on the bed, I will carry you. I will hold you in my arms so that you feel safe and talk to you in sweet, soothing whispers. My voice would stay calm and high so that you would know that things are fine. I don’t want, for a minute, for you to feel afraid. I love you more now than I did when I brought you home from the animal shelter at six weeks. We’ve gone through a lot together.
I now see the wisdom in your eyes, those wide brown eyes, contrasting your snowy white chin and whiskers. You look beautiful to me. You may not be able to jump as high as you used to when you were younger but you still jump and most importantly, you still enjoy it. I know you are waiting for the winter, for the snow to fall, so you can play in it. Sometimes we call you “snow dog” because you love the snow so much. Dad will play his game of shoveling the snow with his snow shovel and he will throw it high up in the air and you will bark, as clear as the sound of laughter, when you jump right into the snow. By the way, I hope you know that Dad has as much fun with this game as you do, maybe even more. I know I hate the snow and I’m sorry I don’t go out as much in it but the best part of having snow, to me, is watching your joy. When you have to leave me, please know, that every time it snows, I will picture you in it. I will still hear your delight as you jumped and bounced and tumbled in the white stuff you loved so much. Whenever it snows, I will think of you.
We have both grown up this year haven’t we? Change is happening all around us and we are learning to cope with it and deal with it and most of all accept it. We’ve gotten so much better, you and I. Last time we went in the car together you were scared but that’s okay. I get scared of things too, but we make ourselves do new things even if we feel nervous at first. Remember by the end of the car ride how you stuck your head out the window, looked outside, showed everyone your happy face and your wagging tongue? It was lovely to see.
I will love you forever, Callie, my first dog. Though I don’t want this to happen for a long time, you should know that if you are ever in pain, and I see it in your eyes, I will not let you suffer. One thing I know, I will look into your brown pudding eyes and you will look back into my green eyes and we will talk wordlessly and understand each other as we always do. Any decisions we need to make, we will make together, the two of us. You can crawl into my lap, just like you did the first time we met, and I will hold you tight and not let go until I have to.
For now, while you lay beside me, sleeping, just know I will always comfort you. Whether it is thundering and lightening or hailing outside like it did last night, I will always protect you. Last night, I wrapped my arms around your silken body and I held you and stroked you and talked to you so that you would stop shaking so severely.What I want to say now is simple; thank you for your love and loyalty and kindness. For kissing my tears away, licking my face and sharing blueberries with me. I enjoy our “cookie game” as much as you do. I take a vanilla cookie and hold half of it outside my lips, you take it out of my mouth and we share it. I will try hard, when you are no longer with us, to fight to remember the good times and not just cry at my loss. I will try Cal, I really will; all I can do is to promise to try.
*Dedicated to Rosemary’s dog, Mr. H. Rest In Peace.
UPDATE: CALLIE died six months later from cancer.