As I sit writing tonight, Callie the Wonder Dog is laying on the rug at my feet. She’s limped to the spot on her crippled legs, the dysplasia making her gimpy walk a stagger with an alternate delay as her left side is pulled along.
Her spirit still mighty, her flesh is now weak.
Callie would celebrate her 13th birthday in three weeks. I say “would” because she won’t make it. I’ve made the dread decision to end her suffering in two days. I feel like a traitor. I wouldn’t even make the phone call to the vet in her presence. This dog is a serious genius. And while I’m burdened with the ugliness of this painful reality I’m about to set in motion, I can’t even hint at what I’m going to let happen to her. Not yet.
So these days are spent in the passing of chin rubs and favourite snacks. Red peppers and cucumbers send this German Shepherd into a tail-wagging frenzy of mouth-watering excitement. This is the surest sign that she wasn’t always mine.
I became Callie’s foster mom three years ago when her first person, and my co-worker Jason, was laid low by the ravages of diabetes.
A young man with a vigilant attitude toward the disease that had turned off his pancreas at just six-years-old, Jason passed out one afternoon at home. By the time we realized he was missing and called Sarnia Police to check on him, Jason was near death.
He was found on the floor in the main living area of his home. Callie, unable to rouse him, had pulled every blanket from the bedroom and had covered him. She was lying beside him when the paramedics entered, and only when they began to work on him did she move away.
Even this weekend when she and Jason met to say good-bye, she maneouvered her brittle body to lay on her side and ask for a favourite belly rub and gave Jason a high-five, just for old times’ sake.
She loves him still.
There are people who don’t understand loving an animal. They see an inconvenience that ties them down, makes the house untidy and leaves hairballs on the floor.
For me those things are signs that love lives in my house, and I don’t apologize for that.
I start every morning reading the news, watching the loonie against foreign currency, checking on the state of the Korean Penninsula. I go to work where I talk to people who increasingly question what is happening to the world, bemoaning man’s inhumanity to man while bitching about the inaccuracy of their Tim’s order. I hear people’s harsh words. I say some of my own. Then I come home and I watch the news. I see babies gassed, and world leaders cut social programs that protect the impoverished and disenfranchised. I watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory, just to lighten the mood, and before I go to bed I pat Callie the Wonder Dog on the head and assure her that she is a good girl.
And she is.
In the sea of ugliness of our world, this sweet creature has never offered anything but love. She tried to save Jason three years ago. And in many ways, she saved me.
Loving her, has been one of the great privileges of my life and she has changed me. For good.