Happy Birthday, Callie

Posted: April 1, 2014 in Pets
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Callie, 2 months old, 5 pounds, June 2010

Callie, 2 months old, 5 pounds, June 2010

Today my best canine friend, Callie, is four years old. Actually, we don’t really know when her birthday is. As a pup we adopted through the Kentucky Humane Society, her date of birth is more of a guess, so we say it’s April 1 just to easily remember it.

After losing my previous dog, Bonnie, to old age in 2008, I vowed to go a full year without a dog. I ended up going two full years. Meanwhile, I never missed a single week during those two years of going to the Humane Society or a pet store or some place where I could pet and hold dogs, eagerly awaiting the one that would eventually join our family.

She's never too far away from a tennis ball

She’s never too far away from a tennis ball

By the end of those two years I had set my heart on getting a Great Dane – a female, brindle-colored Dane that I wanted to name Tigger. But on one particular June day in 2010, my wife, Linda, joined me in my weekly trip to look at pups. It was that day that we saw Callie and her sibling together. A few moments of interaction convinced me that Callie was the gentler of the two pups, so we picked her up. When Linda held her, Callie quickly fell asleep in her arms. I knew right then that my plans for a Great Dane just changed to a Labrador/Border Collie mix – a Borador.

We put down a deposit to reserve the right to adopt her in the next 24 hours and left to ponder it. We didn’t have to ponder long, though. We immediately kicked into new puppy parent mode and decided to take the plunge, purchasing all the supplies we needed for our soon-to-be family member and then adopting her the next day.

I’ve always been a dog person. I’ve had dogs most of my 57 years from even before I remember them, evidenced only by family photos of young childhood before my memory of such things kicked in. I’ll always be a dog person. Those two years between Bonnie and Callie were woefully long for me and I have no intention of having such a dog-less gap again.

Callie and Jeff

She puts up with my Halloween costumes

However, even though I’ve had a dog most of my life, I can easily say I’ve never had a relationship with a dog like I do with Callie. We are inseparable. We completely understand each other. Each of us knows what the other is thinking. I regularly shake my head in amazement that two members of very different species can live in such harmony and with such a love for each other. It is no less than amazing.

We often point to our pets (especially dogs) as incredible examples of unconditional love. It’s sad that we have to point to animals instead of people for that at times, but it’s common to do so. The extreme greeting that awaits me at the front door when I get home from work (or even from a short trip to the store) – the constant presence by my side wherever I go – the nuzzling up against me – the eagerness to walk, jog, or go for a ride in the car – the joy of playing – the security of routines – the eagerness to please – the good morning, evening and any other time kisses – even crawling under my side of our bed to sleep as close as physically possible to me – this is a human/canine relationship that tops all others in my past. I cannot imagine one closer. When hugging her, I frequently refer to her as my little furry bundle of well-being.

Always eager to walk, jog or run

Always eager to walk, jog or run

I don’t know if there will be animals in heaven or not. I believe that this world will one day undergo a radical transformation and that God will re-create in its place a new heaven and a new earth. I believe His perfect original world certainly included all kinds of animals. He chose to save his animal kingdom via Noah during the Great Flood (the biblical one – not the Hollywood version). The birth of Jesus was likely witnessed in that Bethlehem stable by animals. I see no reason to think that a perfect re-creation won’t also include all kinds of species that show the handiwork of our Creator. If and when that day comes, I know which one non-human companion I would love to have with me for eternity, and that is Callie. I know it sounds weird to say that or to think about it, but that is how I feel. As a father who enjoys seeing his children get that which makes them happy, nothing will surprise me about what my heavenly Father might do for His children.

So happy birthday, Callie. I know you don’t read and you don’t know what a birthday is. But you know what love is – both to give and to receive it – and I thank you for being such an incredible friend and companion every day.

Callie Asleep

In her place by my side on the couch

Comments
  1. khaganh says:

    Jeff, I have tried to explain this relationship to someone who has never had a dog and it cannot be explained! Once you have a dog for a companion, you are a changed person and like you, I went for a little over two years without a dog. One day I decided that was long enough and told everyone that I could think of that I was looking for a poodle. My grandson is allergic to dogs, so I thought this might be a good idea. Two days later my daughter-in-law called me to ask if I was serious. The home health aid that helped her with her mother told her of someone who needed to rehome her miniature poodle–for free. He was a few days shy of being 5 years old and needed some oral surgery that the woman didn’t want to pay for.When she put him in my arms that day, he cuddled right up against me and we fell in love. He looks remarkedly like the poodle that I was blessed to have with me for 15 years from age 15-30. This free dog cost me about $1200 for that surgery and now at 6.5 years old he needs to have another $1000 worth of surgery. Do I mind? Well, let’s just say my savings account has been empty before for less important reasons. Willie Nelson weighs about 3.5 lbs when he has just been groomed. My love for him is boundless for the unconditional, limitless love and companionship that he offers me. Happy Birthday, Callie!!!

  2. Lisa Asbury says:

    This was beautifully written. You express the same love for your dog as I feel for my three dogs. My older dog had a stroke a few months back and is still making progress to get better. It is difficult to look in her eyes now because I can see her frustration when she can’t do some of the same things she use to do or do them as easily as she could before the stroke. At any rate, I am thankful for the extra time we have together. As always, thanks for sharing your insights.

    Thank you,

    Lisa Asbury Operations Analyst/Wellness Champion/Virtual Guide Technology Solution Services

    Humana 4607 Allmond Ave | Louisville, KY 40209

    T 502.580.5864 F 502.380.3810 lasbury@humana.com Virtual [Description: Description: cid:image001.png@01CE4658.B16B2AE0] Guides

    Our Dream To help people achieve lifelong well-being

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    Humana.com

  3. Tracy says:

    Jeff, I love the article and especially the part about animals in heaven. I do believe my dogs are there waiting for us, too. I constantly tease my mom that along with her yellow corvette in heaven, Sweetheart will be on her lap, ears flying from the breeze. Callie is beautiful, a precious gift…and the bond between humans and animals is amazingly strong. I love the commercial between the dog and the lady who is home on leave from the military. My heart aches for the dog sleeping on his master’s gravesite, who lost his master in combat. Animals feel, hurt, show joy, sorrow and many of the same emotions that we do. While I don’t have a dog now due to my current rental situation, I take advantage of every dog fix I can get. 🙂

    So, Happy Birthday, Callie! Enjoy your 4th and here’s to many, many more!

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