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.

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