*I Will Carry You UPDATE

Field of Snow

Image by spodzone via Flickr

 

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.

Love,

Mom

*Dedicated to Rosemary’s dog, Mr. H. Rest In Peace.

UPDATE: CALLIE died six months later from cancer.

Snow Dog (Repost)

The Wolf Dog playing with a ball in the snow

Image via Wikipedia

Callie, my beautiful 9-year-old dog lies curled up at the end of my bed; her black, white and tan fur as soft as down feathers.  Her paws are white with tan freckles, her stomach is pure white. Her long tail is like a sweeping paintbrush, like a peacock’s plume, black and tan, its softness tickles my nose.   Sometimes she shudders and shakes when she is sleeping and I reach out to stroke her fur and wake her up; she looks around and stretches one paw directly up into the air and audibly sighs.

Callie knows, instinctively, how I feel;  she is sensitive to my moods and especially to my sorrow.  She jumps up on my bed  and looks at me with her liquid brown eyes, knowingly.   After my father died, Callie spent a lot of time with me, she could comfort me as no one else could. She licked the tears away from my face and would not leave my side until I felt better.  I didn’t need to explain, I didn’t need to talk, she understood my pain at the most primitive level. Her fur was often damp from my tears, my arms curled around her body. Wherever I went, she went; she still follows me everywhere; I still call her “my little shadow.”

Nine years ago I drove to a few shelters, “just looking.” One day I arrived at a shelter to see a woman who worked there cradling two, tiny, adorable puppies in her hands, one to her left cheek, the other to her right. Apparently the pup’s mom had abandoned them and wouldn’t nurse them.  I arrived five minutes after a man who had adopted them for a week came back and brought   the puppies back to the shelter, because “they were too much trouble.”

I sat myself down on the dirty floor and the two, six-week old  puppies were placed next to me.  One was frisky and started eating telephone wires, the other crawled into my lap and stayed. It was love at first sight, for both of us.  I identified with the little ball of mush snuggling into my lap, sighing with contentment; if she had been a cat she would have purred.

I  watch Callie from the window, frolicking in the snow, barking happily, and hopping and skipping like a bunny. Snow is her favorite element and in it she acts like the same young pup we’ve always known.   Her favorite time is when we have a snowstorm and my husband shovels snow directly to her.  She can literally jump up to two feet in the air so she is just about vertical and she yelps and barks with utter joy.

I was never able to understand the bond between a human being and a dog, until we adopted Callie and then I knew what unconditional love was.   My children whisper their secrets to her, I have seen them bend down, close to her ear. She is the keeper of secrets and of sorrow, and she is constantly happy, even if we are away for five minutes, she greets us with great joy.

Now, her once black whiskers are turning white; the fur under her chin has also changed from black to white. My daughter asked me the other day “How long do dogs live?”  It’s the same thing I have thought about from time to time.  I hesitated, and  my daughter said the following:” Mom, I need to know. I need to be prepared.”   I told her what I knew and what the veterinarian had said and that I understood her completely because I needed to be prepared too.  What I did not tell her is that no matter what, you can never be prepared for death. Ever.

My daughter and I and our closest neighbors celebrate her birthday every year on March 1st. We buy her a present or two and she always gets a really good meal. The boys in our family want nothing to do with us. But, for my daughter and me, it’s a celebration of her life, year after year. I hope she is with us for a very long time but when the  day comes, I know that I will always cling to the image in my mind, of my dog, crazy happy, jumping into the air, covered with snowflakes.

newly dedicated to Rosa Michelle