Let Me Tell Ya ‘Bout My Best Friend

“People, let me tell you ’bout my best friend…he’s a one boy, cuddly toy, my up, my down, my pride and joy.”

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I lost my best boy last weekend – my beautiful, gentle Caleb. If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you’ve seen him quietly slip into pictures, or heard me talk about an adventure we had. And I know it’s not fashion or body positivity or anything related to this blog…except that it’s about my life. And his loss is life-changing for me.

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People say “Oh, you lost your dog/pet/fur-baby, that’s so sad,” but he wasn’t really any of those things. He was my PARTNER. And that might sound…bizarre or dramatic or awkward, but…for the past 14 years he has been with me through ups and downs, losses, moves, new jobs, break-ups, my daughter moving away, cancer, happy times and sad. Until last year when I was sick and then he started slowing down, he went with me almost everywhere except work…and he sometimes went there! He is the one who has gotten me out of the house, out of my shell and my head, and out into the world, into nature. He helped me exercise. He trained for a 5k with me! I don’t understand “walking” without a dog! What are you supposed to do with your hands without a leash to hold or a silky head to touch? How do people go walking in the woods or desolate areas without the company of a Big Brave Dog? I can’t imagine just sitting in a park alone. He was such a great meeter. He would sit with me, so quietly, people were always drawn to his beauty and good manners. They would start chatting with me about him. Without him?? I’m just a weird lady sitting alone on a park bench.

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I remember so well the day I brought him home. I got him from an Aussie breeder upstate, Rising Star Australian Shepherds – he wasn’t a good fit in the show ring so they were looking for a pet home for him. She sent me his picture…

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…and it was love at first sight. They live quite far up north, so we agreed to meet mid-way at a dog show where they would be. When I got there, they introduced Caleb and I, gave me some instructions and handed me his leash and were like, “Okay, bye.” It felt strange and sad to be taking him away from the family and dogs he’d lived with for over a year, but he was such a good boy walking obediently off with me, a total stranger. I put him in the crate in the car with a soft bed, water pail and rawhide bone, then headed home. He sat quietly watching out the window. After about two hours of driving I got off the parkway for a bathroom stop. It was a mild day and I parked in the shade with the windows down, ran in quick to use the bathroom then hurried back out. I opened the hatch, opened the crate door…and he literally FLEW out of the crate, jumping up on me excitedly as if to say “YOU CAME BACK FOR ME! I THOUGHT I’D BEEN LEFT HERE! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! YOU’RE MY MOTHER!” and he has been my devoted shadow companion ever since.

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I thought I was getting a dog for us, for me and Katie, but he bonded with me in that moment – and by the time he met her a couple days later, he was My Dog. He loved her, she was His Girl…but I was The Mother.

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So I didn’t know him as a puppy but I have some pictures from the breeder

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From Day One, he was a total gentleman, and I credit his breeder with that, with starting him so well. But I also credit him, as he was always extremely intuitive, practically knowing what I expected of him even before did. Everything I taught him, he picked up so quickly, I hardly felt like I “trained” him, it was like he just knew. And I took him everywhere with me. I’m a big proponent of extreme socialization and taking dogs into every possible situation and because of that he was accepted everywhere we went because he was always so quiet and well-behaved.

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Everyone that met Caleb loved him.

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People and animals alike.

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But his kitties loved him best….

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…especially Janey.

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He loved going in the car anywhere….

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…and we were always on the lookout for new fun places to go.

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We loved going to the woods…

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…and the beach and into the water…

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…the muckier the better 🙂

He loved the snow!

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Or maybe it was me who loved the snow…and he just wanted to go with me wherever I went. Sometimes even to work.

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But it didn’t matter where we went or what we did…as long as we were there together.

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He was my beautiful boy…with the most sincere expression.

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I loved hurrying home after work to see my boy…and he was always right there waiting to see me.

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Around the house he was very quiet, and sometimes I’d look up and see him peeking at me from around a corner…as if just checking that I was still there.

One of the most endearing things he did, every night, was to come rest his head on the edge of my bed…I would stroke his head for a minute and tell him what a good good boy he was, how he would be my best boy always…and then I would say goodnight and he would lay down next to my bed and go to sleep.

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He was a good boy, a happy boy…and he brought Such Joy to my life for such a long time.

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He just had his 15th birthday earlier this year…I knew he wouldn’t be with me much longer.

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But there’s no way to prepare for this loss, this sadness. My lovely little family keeps getting smaller and smaller. Katie moved away years ago. Madison passed away two summers ago. Now my Caleb is gone. It’s just me and Janey.

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I know this is long. I hold no grudge for anyone who clicked away halfway through…or who scrolled to the end, skipping over bits. I had to share our story for me. To try and show why I am unbearably sad now. I feel sort of unattached from my life, like my anchor is gone. I feel like I’m trying to find way my back to…someplace I don’t even really want to be.

I’ve been saying goodbye to my friend for eight days now. I wanted to explain my absence from the blog and the internet in general. I have so many wonderful memories…things that are making me sad right now…and I had to just…let some of it out of my head…let a little steam escape.

Goodbye, my beautiful boy.

bettye + caleb hobart beach 9.27.17

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56 thoughts on “Let Me Tell Ya ‘Bout My Best Friend

  1. What a beautiful tribute to your sweet boy. Thanks for sharing his story, and yours. ❤ He looks like a big lover! I'm so very sorry for your loss, it is NEVER easy. They are such loyal, faithful companions… better than most humans. When their time with us is up, it's hard not to feel a part of our soul departed with them. Perhaps because it has. Cherish all those years of beautiful memories and know that you will see him again. Big {{{HUGS}}}, my friend. His light continues to shine through you. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words. He *was* such a lover. He loved to come to me to have me put out my hand for him to rest his muzzle on and he would just stare into me while I stroked his head. It’s these little things that are so hard to lose – these little moments of connection.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My heart is breaking for you Bettye. They really make our lives so much better each and every day, and it’s just not fair that they can’t live as long as we do.
    Sharing these photos were so joyous…..and that love will never die. What a sweetie to be so loving to the cats too!!
    Sending you hugs and love….
    XOXO

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha, about the cats. THEY loved HIM. He tolerated them sweetly…sometimes looking at me like, “I could care less about them but I know you want me to be nice to them, so…SIGH.” He never initiated anything with them, but was so patient and tolerant when they would move into his territory or snuggle against him. Thank you for your comment, Jodie.

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  3. Awwww seeing all of these wonderful pictures and this beautiful dog having such a wonderful life melts my heart. I can’t imagine your sadness right now and I know there’s not much to make it better. Take some comfort I knowing that you have that boy such a wonderful life! He was soooo lucky to have you as his mommy. I hope you have my favorite picture of him in a frame! True beauty at its finest! Calebs spirit with be with you always! Stay strong mama ❤️🐾❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Shannon. I am certainly fortunate in having so many wonderful pictures of him to surround myself with, every one eliciting a special memory. And yes, your (and my) favorite picture is in a frame right here in my desk at work. Bettye

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  4. This is such a beautiful tribute,Bettye. Both to how much he was loved and how much love he gave to you. I think we all feel like we really knew Caleb from all of your posts and photos. I hope you find some comfort in remembering what a wonderful life you shared. xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Such a beautiful boy and so obvious from your photos, even without your lovely words for him, that he and you were totally devoted to one another. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What a beautiful memorial to Caleb. I had difficulty reading all of it because the tears kept blurring my eyes. The pictures were all incredible and showed his sweet spirit.
    Those of us who are your friends ‘online’ have followed and loved Caleb for years. Your loss is our loss in a way. There are no words I can say that will help, but I pray peace and comfort for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Oh I am so deeply saddened to read this. I understand completely how you feel. I love to seeing each picture and the whole post was such a moving tribute to this lovely soul. I recently lost my dog also. She was 15 and I was very attached to her and I had to make the decision to put her down. I saw that she was not eating and I knew that that was the end and I did not want to have her suffer. We did do a few medical tests which were not in anyone’s best interest, but my daughter wanted to be sure there was nothing we could do.
    You are experiencing grief . This is a terrible loss. You will get through it, but it is going to take some time and I’m sending you my very best wishes for the strength that will be required: it is going to be a delicate and long-term process. Again I’m sorry and I do commiserate for what that is worth.
    Lots of hugs, goodbye dear Caleb.
    ❤️❤️❤️
    https://theellediaries.com/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Elle. I’m sorry for your recent loss as well. JUst the week before I had been so concerned, “how will I know when it’s time??” but that morning he let me know it was time. It was too hard for him. And I couldn’t let him struggle so.

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  8. It seems just yesterday that your lovely boy entered your life….where has that time gone? Our beloved pets are in our lives for far too short a time, but the love & joy they bring is endless. Run free Caleb. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “It seems just yesterday that your lovely boy entered your life.” I know, right?? I guess all the Dockers *were* around when I first got him. I was wondering why I didn’t have many early pictures of him…and I realized that I got him when I was just selling “vintage across all categories,” and not yet specializing in vintage clothing, and I still had that early digital Sony camera that saved pictures to a FLOPPY DISC. And we thought it was the greatest thing cuz a floppy disc could hold like 3-4 images! Ha. But I was not yet “into” photography…and probably any early pics of him I did have were on floppy discs and thrown out or saved to a long ago computer. But yeah….in hindsight the time went fast. Way too fast 😦

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  9. I cannot say anything that will sheer you up because nothing can. I lost my cat 3 years ago, he was 17, and really my cat. I know how it feels, I cried for weeks. It’s awful to lose a friend like that, you brought tears in my eyes with this beautiful tribute to Caleb!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s hard, I know, we always want to be able to say something comforting…even when we know our words can’t take away the pain of a loss. But just having so many people offer their condolences *does* help a bit. Knowing there are people out there who care and just maybe understand what you’re going through – it helps. So thank you for your words, even though….

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  10. I’m so sorry for your loss and pain, and reading your story brings me to tears. I lost my 13 year old Sami, a Field Spaniel, last August and I felt just as you so beautifully described. Not only have you lost a best friend but a way of life and routine. It took me until last month to be able to adopt another dog. Not a replacement for my Sami. But a companion to help motivate me to get out and about, someone to talk to at home, to play tug of war with, to bring laughter by his antics. To inspire me to get out of bed. And in exchange I am giving an abandoned, by his lifelong Dad due to medical necessity, 9 year old Jack Russell Terrier a safe and calm home, and lots of attention. Not sure who is getting the best part of this deal but pretty sure it is me. I love that you have all those beautiful pictures of Caleb (did he ever take a bad pic?) to look back on and remember the joy you brought to each other’s lives. As Elle above says, recovering your equilibrium after such as loss is a long term process and I wish you peace in your journey and will be thinking about you.
    Take care,
    Laurie

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for such lovely comments, Laurie. And I’m sorry for your loss as well….but how exciting to have a new family member! I think you’re probably *both* pretty lucky! It’s always heartbreaking to hear of pets given up due to aging or health issues. Good for you for opening your home (and heart!) to The New Guy 🙂

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  11. I’m having a hard time putting into words what to say. I’ve come back and read your post three times. I know exactly how you are feeling and what you are experiencing. My sweet Shetland Sheepdog died while we were on vacation last month. It’s been so difficult. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear sweet Caleb. Thank you for sharing this heartfelt tribute.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’m so sorry for your loss. You’re not being overly dramatic. I enjoyed seeing how well loved Caleb was and how happy he made you. I hope those happy memories help you heal.
    Lynn

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I always think it’s a clever trick of nature to make old animals (and people!) a little more difficult to care for…incontinence, helping them up and down, etc…so that we’re almost ready to have them leave us because it gets so difficult to care for them in their old age. And right now, this most recent time is what is forefront in my mind…but I’m trying to remember further back, to the good times when he (and I!) were younger and more active. This time of year, now that the evenings are long, we would go to the beach several times a week to sit and watch the sunset. He could wander around, he never strayed far from me…and I could just relax in my chair, watching the changing sky. He was just the right amount of company.

      Thanks for your kind words. xoxo

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  13. I watched the entire blog. I looked at every picture. Your beautiful Caleb was such a huge part of your life. Thank you for sharing him with me and my girls. We truly loved an adored that handsome boy of yours. I am here for you always. Love you

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Words can not express how much it hurts. I know first hand how you feel. Amber was my sweet Angel and I’m so happy she got to meet Caleb. love and hugs from one broken heart to another.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Paula, you know 😦 I wish we’d gotten them together more often. I think that was the last time we went to the Boy Scout camp…that hill back to the parking lot was too much for both of us!

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  15. Oh Bettye, such a beautiful tribute to a beautiful boy. I’m typing this in tears, it brings back memories of losing my golden Labrador Jeeves 14 years ago. Dogs are so loyal and loving. They bring us so much joy but the flip side of that is the deep sorrow when we lose them. I hope you find some comfort from the wonderful memories you have of Caleb. Sending you love and hugs.

    Emma xxx
    http://www.style-splash.com

    Liked by 2 people

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