On November 6, 2015 I lost my beloved dog, Callie Ann. The events leading up to her unnecessary death are still too painful so I’ll address them at a later time. After an extremely brief illness she suddenly went into kidney failure. When her local vet was unable to treat her effectively I took her to an emergency vet clinic in Portland ME which is associated with a specialty veterinarian practice that I use. At first they believed they’d managed to turn her around but by early morning her prognosis was dire. She was technically transferred to the care of the specialty vet practice and I was blessed to have the same internist who treats one of my GSD’s. I couldn’t ask for a more kind or compassionate person to ease Callie’s transition from this life. They walked Callie into an exam room so that I could spend as much time as possible with her. The tech’s words were “This is YOUR room for the day”. Callie lay on a soft matted blanket on the floor and I stayed next to her, stroking and talking to her. She had a pink stuffed bear “Pinky” next to her that had been her favorite toy since she was a young puppy.
After several hours she began to appear uncomfortable so I summoned the vet. She sat on the floor with us and I sang our “special song”(substituting ‘Callie’ for ‘Johnnie’) to my angel as she administered the drugs. Before the drugs actually flowed Callie wagged her tail several times. When she was gone I stayed for a bit then somehow found the strength to leave the room. It was only then that I noticed the number of the room we’d been in all morning ~ #3. The irony of it made my tears flow even more because 3 has always been my favorite number.
We have several dogs, all of which we love dearly. Callie however was my “heart” dog. Once I became a mother it seemed as if my children were always finding stray pups and bringing them home. Being an animal lover I kept each and every one. Once the children grew and left the nest for college, the “girls” became my best friends. We decided for a variety of reasons to leave our native NJ and relocate to the Western Mountain region of Maine. I was fortunate to find a home off the primary road with 20 acres in a wooded mountain. I had a 6′ high chain link fence installed on an extremely large portion of the rear property which gave the girls ample room to exercise and helped keep the forest critters out. At this point they were all aging so I lovingly referred to them as my “Golden Girls”. It was devastating when all four of them passed away within 18 months, each one mourned terribly. For the first time in years I didn’t have a dog and it was strange. The first Christmas after the last girl passed, I was putting out decorations when I realized how much I missed having a dog. And so the search began. I discovered PetFinder and would sit for hours reviewing page after page. One day I saw a photo of an adorable black fluff of fur at the PAWS shelter in Calais ME.
I remember having to Google Calais because I’d never heard of it. It’s far up at the northern section of Maine bordering Canada. I filled out their application and was approved. I had to wait however until she was 8 weeks old before getting her. My daughter and I made the trip which seemed to take an eternity. Once I’d picked her up I realized I hadn’t picked out a name and on the long drive home I decided on Callie Ann because she hailed from “Calais”.
What a delightful handful she was! We live in a log home and she systematically pulled out the chinking (insulation material between the logs). I used to tell her that if we got cold it was her fault but somehow it never phased her.
Once had just
spring arrived I enrolled her in Puppy Class. I had a new VW Jetta and as she jumped in after class one night I realized she was getting too tall for the car. Off we went the next week shopping for a mid sized SVU. Once I found one, the dealership sales person was kind enough to install the dog barrier gate I’d purchased elsewhere (one that I’ve rarely used however because she doesn’t like it). As spring progressed into summer I began socializing her in earnest. My daughter worked in law enforcement so I took Callie to the jail and let her walk up and down the exterior catwalk type steps.
Her first two years I tried taking her with me whenever possible so that she could experience elevators, airports, etc. She accompanied me on my road trips back to NJ to visit family. The uncanny thing about Callie Ann is how fine tuned she was to my emotions. Whenever I raised my voice she would hurry over to check things out. It was usually just my loud mouth personality she heard but the few times I cried she was the first one at my side. For someone like me who suffers from PTSD, having that close bond is invaluable. While not an aggressive dog at all, just her attention to my mood was like manna from heaven.
As a nurse I worked 12hr shifts and the drive was a 3hr round trip. But on the positive side it gave me more days off than a traditional 40hr week. We added more dogs to our family whom I love dearly but Callie and I continued to have that special and unique bond. I had a teeter totter built along with an A-frame that only Callie liked to climb up earning her the name “Queen of the Hill”. We live across the street from a private river where we frequently go during the summer and I must admit, this summer was Callie’s happiest one yet. For a labrador X she wasn’t a typical water lover but this summer she swam and frolicked more in the river than ever before. Lots of happy entries into my memory book for sure!
In 2012 I made the decision to leave my job of nearly 10 years because the long commute had taken its toll. I started working for a more conveniently located company. Unfortunately, since 2012 I’ve been involved in a lawsuit which remains ongoing. Needless to say it’s been one battle after another and still not resolved. Callie had been my muse, my salvation. After the lawsuit began, my previously controlled PTSD flooded me. Some days I barely had the strength to go on. Through our unique bond she let me know I was important and that gave me courage to get up and manage ~ one step, one day at a time.
I’m still wracked with grief; some days I cry only once and others multiple times. It’s funny how a seemingly insignificant event will trigger waves of gut wrenching anguish. Saturday night I opened the dishwasher to put a dirty dish inside. I paused and wondered why the bottom rack had so much empty space when it was well after dinner and it should have been full. Then it hit me like a tidal wave; Callie’s dinner bowl wasn’t there. A torrent of tears flowed which I couldn’t stop. I ached for her on a visceral level. Yes, I’d cried terribly when each and every one of my previous beloved 4 legged companions left for I loved them all. I believe however that for those of us who are animal lovers, a special one enters our life and becomes our “heart” companion. Callie Ann was my heart dog. In time my daily tears will subside and I’ll even laugh at a recalled memory. But she’ll be indelibly etched within my soul until I leave this world. Run free my angel…