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.”

caleb snow 1.25.14

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.

caleb+me j beitchman 1.9.18

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.

caleb 2 (1)

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…

Caleb 3

…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.

1 (2).jpg

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.

3.jpg

katie and caleb collage

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

puppy collage

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.

IMG_1851

caleb goes everywhere collage

Everyone that met Caleb loved him.

caleb and everyone.jpg

People and animals alike.

caleb and other animals collage 1caleb and other animals collage 2

But his kitties loved him best….

caleb + madison

…especially Janey.

caleb and his kitties collage 1

caleb and his kitties collage 2

He loved going in the car anywhere….

caleb in the car collage.jpg

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

caleb sunrise 11.8.15

We loved going to the woods…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

…and the beach and into the water…

caleb 8.jpg

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

…the muckier the better 🙂

He loved the snow!

3pm

caleb snow collage

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

take your dog to work day 6.26.15

IMG_3464

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

IMG_6512

caleb and me collage

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

IMG_1356

after caleb 5.21.14 1

IMG_5803

caleb 2a

caleb 1 (2)

caleb xmas 12.22.12 text

caleb sccc preserve 5.4.15

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

IMG_1785

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.

caleb head on my bed

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

DPP_0013 (2)

Dpp_0003

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

caleb 13th birthday 3.5.16

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.

v

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

What to Do When You’re in a Funk

Note: I did not say “how to get OUT of a funk.” I have the utmost respect for The Funk and would never try to hurry one along. It’s there for a reason. You may not even be aware of the reason, but if your head/heart/body/mind says you’re in a funk, just go with it. Enjoy it. Revel in it. If you try to ignore it then you’re not honoring your Self. Honor your Self. Honor the Funk.

2

I happen to be in a funk myself right now. I’m feeling out of my normal routine, I’m tired, I’m sad. Is there a particular reason? Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes you don’t know or can’t necessarily change the reason…but you can control how you react to it. Put down that self-help book, skip that yoga class, turn off the meditation app. Just be in the funk. It won’t last forever. If you try and resist you will never get the little escape your body is telling you you need. So have that pity party until you feel ready to shake it off and move on.

1.12.13 3b

And in the meantime, here are some tried-and-true tested (by me!) techniques for getting the maximum enjoyment out of a funk.

  • Get into your nightgown/pajamas. There is nothing better than getting home from work and immediately putting on your comfy cozy no-restraint clothes. Once you’re in your sleepwear you know you won’t be going out again so it’s easy to stay home alone and pass on any invitations that might come your way, eg., “Oh, I’d love to but I’ve already taken off my bra so I couldn’t possibly.”
  • As indicated above, accept no invitations. Unless someone offers to pick up ice cream and Chinese food and leave it on your doorstep without even knocking, your response to any invitations (if you have even actually answered the phone or text) should be, “I wish I could, but I don’t want to” a la Phoebe Buffet in an early episode of Friends.
  • Do not, I repeat, DO NOT wash the dishes or put away the Christmas decorations. They will all still be there on the other side of the funk.
  • Get into bed. Is it still light out? Even better. While in bed:
    • Turn out the lights and just lay there in the dark.
    • Listen to a podcast.
    • Read a book (NO SELF-HELP), preferably a sad one.
    • Watch a movie. See above.
    • Nap.
    • Talk to yourself. No one knows and understands your pain better than you.
  • Only get up to eat and/or feed animals. Or children. But they really should not be part of any funk plan. If there are children please try to pawn them off for a short while on someone who is not in a funk. You’ll all be better for it.
  • Eat super healthy…or super UNhealthy. This is the time for extremes. A giant salad…or a pint of ice cream. With Fritos. And sprinkles. Maybe even a little alcohol.
  • Go to sleep early. Sleep as long as you want. If you can manage it, sleep all day. Get lots and lots of sleep.

Follow these steps for a day or two, until you want to stop.  I know I’m done with a funk when I want to get dressed or talk to another human being or go for a walk in actual air. Take it easy on yourself the next day. Funks take a lot out of you. If you did the funk right, by Day Two you’ll be feeling back to normalish and maybe even pretty gosh darn good. Congratulate yourself on a funk well-done and move on with your life.

DPP_0004

Note: I am not a mental health professional, this is just how *I* like to handle a funk. Follow my plan at your own risk. It works for me. Your mileage may vary.