We lost our girl, Callie, this weekend. After having several bouts with severe arthritis in her back legs, on Saturday her hind quarters became paralyzed. So, after 13 delightful years with our best friend, Mick and I said goodbye to her.
As far as dogs go, Callie had quite an interesting life. She came from a litter of 13, and was born in an old VW bus in a campground in Skagway, Alaska. Her mother’s owner, Abby, was working in town for the summer and living in the bus, and her dog, Two Socks, had gotten pregnant. I’m sure Abby was shocked to realize she would have to find homes for 13 puppies, but she carefully chose the homes, and we were one of the lucky recipients.
Abby and all of us would have birthday parties for Callie and her siblings each summer, usually at the beach at Long Bay, with plenty of space to run around. Beers for us, and hot dogs and meatloaf birthday cake for Callie, Jasmine, Blue Bear, Lucius, Hoss, Worm, et al. Then we would take a group picture to commemorate the day.
When we moved to Haines, Alaska, we bought a house with large cathedral windows in the front overlooking the river and ocean inlet. One of the first things we did was build a window seat there, and that became Callie’s domain. People stopping by often commented that she must be the luckiest dog in the world with that view. She kept an eye out for bears, emitting a low growl when she saw one. She somehow knew not to bark and bring attention to herself, but still wanted to give us a warning. Strangely enough, the only wild animal that actually scared her were the turkeys here in Missouri. They always sent her running for cover!
She was Mick’s constant companion when he was home from his job on the ferry, and especially after he retired. They were inseparable. Mick was very active at the community radio station when we lived in Haines, and Callie would lie on the floor of the on-air room while Mick did shows. You could always recognize Mick’s truck before you saw him because Callie would be across his chest, hanging out the window with one paw slung casually over the rear-view mirror.
When we left Alaska, we had our car packed with very little room to spare. Callie was wedged in between coolers and boxes, but she took it all in stride, excitedly sniffing out the corners of a new motel room when we stopped for the night. She saw a lot of the country – Seattle, the Oregon Coast, the California redwoods, even the Grand Canyon. She was a hit there, posing for pictures with the other tourists. After being on the road for a month and a half, the car had become home to her. Even after we got settled in Missouri, she would often want to get in the back seat of the Jeep for a nap.
I have heard people say over the years that getting attached to your pet is just a heartbreak waiting to happen. Losing Callie will be a heart ache for quite some time, but we don’t mind. The companionship and love she gave us for all those years is worth it.