Did you know when you licked my face that late December day back in 2008 what exactly you were doing? I am pretty sure you did. You figured John would be easy to convince to take you home, but I would be the one whose heart you would have to win. Well, it worked. You have definitely won it time and again. Your jumping up and giving me a kiss the moment the lady at Caring Hands Humane Society opened your kennel sealed our fates together, and I am a better man because of it.
Oh the things we have tackled and the adventures we have had over the years are many, and there are still many more yet to come, but I thought a simple note to you would be better written now rather than later.
So here you go – a list of the reasons I am thankful to have you in my life.
1. Your Zest for Life
From getting excited about breakfast to being thrilled when Mom comes to visit so you can greet her before the two of you play Frisbee outside, you have a passion that spreads. Simply saying either the word “Milk Bone” or “Bunny” leads to your zest to show. No matter how bad my day may have been, walking in the door to hear the pitter patter of your feet coming towards me and then seeing your excited face brings me back to a great place.
Then there is your pursuit after those little fluffy banes of your existence that still brings a strange joy to my life (unless you catch one, but that is a different story. Then I am extremely upset with you which breaks your heart I know. Thankfully, that has very rarely ever happened). It doesn’t matter the season or the weather, the moment I open the back door, you run immediately to look under the deck before making a loop around the storage sheds to make sure no bunnies are in your back yard. Then you either sit on top of the deck or the small hill above the storm shelter, watching over everything to make sure it is a safe and sound from any of Peter Cottontail’s relatives. And you do all of this with such a passion.
Although I am not around to see it, I can also imagine the excitement you had each time you had found something either on the counter or in the pantry to take to the couch to test taste. How proud you must have been each time your teeth grasped whatever your prize was that day (a bag of flour, a head of cabbage, romaine lettuce, a container of peanut butter, a bag of thankfully non-instant rice, a package of soft tortilla shells, etc.) and you carried it without making a mess to the living room where you then explored its contents on your couch before I came home to the result of your adventure that served as yet another reminder of the importance of always keeping a clean counter and closing the pantry door.
There is a lot I have and can continue to learn from your appreciation of the little things in the world around you. It is so easy for me to lose focus, but your way of living is a constant reminder to have a zest for living and to be excited for another day, for friends and family, for a self-given worthwhile pursuit, and for a hunger for life.
2. Your Motivating Me to Pause, Reflect, and Improve
So many of my romantic relationships have been doomed because of my workaholic ways. I am working on it and plan to be better should I find myself in one again. And you are also helping me do so. If it were not for you, I know I would fall into the habit of eating at my desk and working through lunch rather than heading home to let you out. That down time as you check for bunnies in the back yard and I eat my lunch is, without a doubt, a very healthy thing for both of us. However, it goes much farther than that. You cause me to take the break I need, something I should do more often.
This, of course, goes far beyond just my coming home for lunch. Life can move so quickly, and a day can become packed before one knows it; however, when I am with you and giving you the time you deserve, I pause to take in my surroundings. No matter what craziness is happening, you become my sole focus and everything else can fall off to the side for a while, and during that pause, I can regain some sort of strength that allows me to come back to a situation with better ideas and a reminder of not only who depends on me but also what truly is important.
3. Your Always Watching Out for Me
From day one that we met, you decided for whatever reason to always watch out for me. When I am out for the evening, I can count on your waiting at the window for me to arrive home. Even when Mom is here, you don’t go back to sleep in the guest room even with the great love you have for her. Rather, you wait for me to make sure I find my way home. Then after greeting me, you will lead me back to my bedroom to finally call it a night.
No matter where I am in the house, you have to be watching me to make sure I am okay. If I am working at the dining room table, you are from your perch in the living room falling asleep on your pillow looking towards me rather than out the front window. If I am rowing in the guest room, you are on top of the bed watching me make each stroke. Even if you the leave the room to go get a drink of water and make a round around the house, it isn’t long until you are back to check that I am okay.
The majority of the times, I am fine, but then there are all of the times I so greatly needed you, and you are right there. Without you, I am not sure what I would have done the night when my heart was torn into millions of pieces and I suffered one of the hardest breakups of my life. The words of excitement of a new relationship filled my room despite their origin coming from across the hall from my bedroom door. Only minutes before, we had been an item for over three and a half years during which we had built a family with you and Emi. However, another beau had swept in from the online world and replaced me during the week I was in New York, and there was nothing I could do upon my return. From one room came a voice filled with happiness and glee, and from mine, only sobs and gasps could be heard as the picture of a future we had once painted together dissolved into nothingness with each word heard from across the hall. You had a choice of which room to enter, and you chose the latter. I still remember how you nuzzled your way in between my arms that had been holding tight my ex-of-only minutes’ pillow. And there you remained with your little beating heart close to mine, just looking at me with your emotion-filled eyes and occasionally giving my face a lick all while doing your best to tell me it was going to be okay, the pain would eventually subside, and our now broken family would get through this together.
From the worst moments to the best, you have been right there, wanting to share each one with me and watching to make sure I always found my step forward.
4. Your Being My Best Friend
From the best moments to the worst, you are always right there. In fact, even as I write this, you are right there beside me.
While I have many great friends in my life, you are easily my best. So often, I wish you could talk, for the conversations we could have would be unreal. I have a feeling you wish you could too. Now you just put up with my talking to you and your answering back with the occasional bark but usually only with your expressive eyes. It is those same eyes that always seem to see the best in me, the me I hope one day I can actually become.
There was a life you once had before we met. I will never know what happened during it and how you ended upon wandering the streets of Newton and surviving wind chills in the negative numbers to the point you were only skin and bones when you were picked up and taken to the place where we would meet.
We have also been through so much together. Unfortunately, some of those times have been when you were at your worst. The memory of picking up your nearly lifeless body from the snow, carrying you inside as tears fell upon your fur, and having John drive us to the vet as quickly as possible still haunts me. I kept telling you that you had to hold on because you had to help us raise our kids. When we said goodbye to you that day, the vet prepared us for that to be our final time seeing you, but whatever it was that had hit you that day, you successfully beat it, and you have continued to be a fighter. The same goes for our 2014 New Year’s Eve when I held your trembling body as close I could to mine as you fought your hardest against the sterile nodular panniculitis that had you in so much pain and was trying its best to take you away from me. More tears were shed as I asked you not to leave me, and you didn’t. We won that battle, and the massive scars from the once open wounds covering your body are a reminder the two of us can power through so much.
One day, even with our best fighting efforts, some outer force will get the upper hand; however, until then, we will continue to be us, a boy and his dog he loves so much.
With much love and eternal gratefulness for your being in my life,
And now for a few more Callie photos (with some Emi cameos too)