Remembering Caledonia

Posted by on November 28, 2011

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
~ Anatole France

As we now approach a week without our girl (first week, first month, first Christmas, first hike…all these will carry their own bittersweet moments), we still find ourselves muddling along, feeling our way through the cold corridors of loss, gravitating towards brief glimpses of light.

Sometimes we can find the hint of a smile in the tears, other times we just stand and hold each other gently. Sometimes a wave of emptiness stops us in mid-stride, like a gust of damp wind.

But through this very hard week, the kindnesses from friends and strangers have soothed our hearts and at times, we have felt utterly and tenderly held.

“… be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” Luke 6:36

Thank you for sharing wisdom and your own experiences with sorrow and loss. I bow my head, tears slipping down my cheeks, before the image of the thoughtful soul searching that stirred so many messages. How many of you plumbed the dark recesses of your own pain to offer a word to lighten ours.

When we offer up a piece of our heart – no matter how meager we feel it may be – we are knowingly or unknowingly responding to a force of love greater than ourselves. We are making room for the same to be returned to us, when we need it most.

Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down,
shaken together to make room for more, and running over.” Luke 7:38

Like so many of your furry friends, our sweet Caledonia was truly a gift from God for us and for everyone she met. We had so many wonderful adventures together.

I remember my frustrations trying to handle her as a pup. I thought she was stubborn, wild and uncontrollable. Shelley, our dog trainer (turned dear friend), just laughed, then helped me see differently. “Oh, she’s just a confident and enthusiastic golden.”

And she was. Gradually, I learned that having an obedient dog didn’t mean doing things ‘my way’; but learning how to see things ‘her way’ and then working out a compromise. I didn’t want to stifle that beautiful spirit, so instead, taught her in ways that allowed it full expression, yet kept her safe. We gave her freedom to romp and be true to her own nature, within constraints.

And in return, she taught us so many life lessons on being human: she lived with unrestrained exuberance, held no fear of rejection, was present and found joy in each moment, ran with utter abandon and glee, ate heartily, forgave instantly, bore no grudges, exuded kindness and compassion, loved without reservation or expectation, trusted her instincts.

She rolled in the snow/grass/mud or flopped into puddles when the mood hit her. She loved water as much as she loved snow and swam until she was exhausted, returning often to shore to encourage us to join her play.

Oh yes…and she taught us the value of play with a reproachful look when we did not immediately leap to join her.

She napped often and dreamed with wild abandon.

To tear her in two would be to expect her to choose between food and welcoming a loved one at the door.

Without fail, she demonstrated that being with her tribe was the most important thing in her life.

She adored people (especially Grammie and Grampie; Nina and Jeff), ignored no one, honoured those she encountered with her undivided attention and treated them like they were the most important people in her life at that moment. She knew how to be a silent friend who sits and waits through the tears.

No wonder we love her so deeply.

I can only pray we, too, can become better people through her example.

Today, I am so grateful for Caledonia, but also for:

281. So many gifts of kindness …cards, rolls, jam, donuts, muffins, flowers, invites to supper…

282. Solace and wise words from friends and strangers

283. Understanding gestures from those who know animal-loss can be as sharp-edged as human-loss…and that while love has many shapes, when given freely, it does not differentiate between them.

284. A child’s offering: artwork and a dance to bring smiles to our faces

285. Phone calls from friends and family

286. The wealth of our beautiful memories…we will continue to tease individual threads, one by one, from the tapestry of time

287. A long, quiet walk together, when we have recently spent so much time apart

288. Shared strength and God’s grace shining through the cracks and condolences

289. Chance meetings in a crowded bookstore (Anne and Debbie, it was wonderful to meet you both).

290. The wonderful man I married…his heart, his strength, his utter devotion and tender care…and a beautiful golden girl to remember.

I am so blessed.

13 Valued Thoughts on Remembering Caledonia

  1. Ellen Wells

    Dear Deb, you have such a wonderful “way”with words – I’m certain Callie would be pleased to be remembered so fondly Much love and thoughts are sent your way, EW

  2. annesta

    Im so very sorry for your loss…I feel in love with her just by your beautiful tribute and the pictures of this sweet soul. May you find comfort in remembering how much she loved you and how much she taught you to love others.

  3. Kathy Mercure

    Such sweet words for such an obviously sweet girl. I think you are so right, many people do not understand that a dog’s love is unconditional, and so we can love them back unconditionally. Soon you will find yourself smiling more than crying because there are so many wonderful memories to keep you company.

  4. Elephant's Eye

    I’m sorry for your loss – I remember with anguish two cats. First Pickwick, then Henry.

  5. Therese Daigle

    So Sorry for your loss.
    We lost our dog Buddy last Jan. We still miss him. But now have Marley to fill the void.
    Take care. Beautiful tribute to your best friend:)

  6. Gwen Buchanan

    Dear Deborah,
    Your Callie lived a life full of so much love and I am sure she misses you as much as you miss her… she was so beautiful and will always remain so in your thoughts .
    I understand your feelings, Take Care.

  7. Jamie @ See Jamie Blog

    Oh, I love all the photos of your sweet furry girl. So sorry for your loss. We are a dog-loving family, too, and have had this kind of loss as well. I don’t think any non dog-person really ever “gets” just how much you grieve over the loss. Hugs to you.

    (Popping over from Ann’s “Multitudes”)

  8. John

    Saying good’bye to a dear friend is always difficult, and you have said it beautifully and with your winder images of Caillie. Caillie touched all who met her. She will live on in our hearts and minds until we see her again. We’re thinking of you and Pat, more than usual, during this difficult period. Love from Sherrill & John

  9. leslie

    such a beautiful, funny girl. her soul shone through her eyes (and yes, i do believe dogs have souls.)

  10. Diane photographs ...

    I’m here again. Your eloquent thoughts and those delightful photos pair up to paint a beautiful summary of life with your dear Caledonia. Just dropped in to give you another hug.

  11. Relyn

    Oh, my sweet friend. Oh, I am truly, truly sorry. There really is no love like that which we feel for a pet. It is so generous and full. And their love for us… well – what can compare? I am sorry, my friend. I wish I could bring you a hot cup of tea, a plate of cookies, and a big hug.

  12. ernestine

    I have neglected so reading your sharing. My little Callie – I have had 2 years and rescued her from the shelter – I named Callie. You gave me the idea.
    I am so sorry for your loss and understand the grieving. At one time had a twin to your Callie named
    “Sam.” Still cannot think of him without crying. He truly loved me.
    Take care….

  13. Shayla

    She was a gorgeous dog, and cutest puppy ever! Thanks for sharing such beautiful photos.

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