A letter to my dog on his deathbed
Caleb and I
Requiem for my comrade
I am not religious. I am not spiritual. If I were, I would be able to say that I was blessed. And I would be able to say that the stars brought me forth a companion. If I were more competent at writing, I would be able to express myself more aptly. Unfortunately, mere words will never be able to portray the infinite relationship that I have shared with another living being.
I shared Caleb’s death with him today. I am glad I did.
You came into my life as a neglected soul. In a way, I think both our souls were hungry. We knew it, and we could see it in each other’s eyes. Your young life had been in turmoil and my mother had taken you in. You already had a name, but I gave you a new one. I thought it was a strong name, reflective of your will and perseverance. Caleb, I called you. It may mean simply ‘dog’ in Hebrew, but to me you represented the purity of that name. The one, the only.
I had just lost a brother to university. I was alone now for the first time in 16 years. A troublesome age for our species. My life had become introspective. I was discovering myself as an independent being – alone and full of characteristic angst, yet fraught with many more queries than your average teen.
Then you came. Both of us in the same boat. You, having your first family torn away, were also feeling insecure and full of questions. It only took one look. Our eyes met and we understood each other. From that day we would share a most intimate relationship, totally ineffable. I am writing this now in honour of your existence, but most importantly, because I need to honour you.
You have always been there for me. Without question, without doubt, without judgment. My friend, my confidant, my brother. We shared our lives together. We had so much fun. No friend nor brother could ever really compete. I was there for you too. I showed you what love really is. We spoke our own language, which only we could understand. I would go so far as to say that we were so close we could hear each other’s thoughts. I knew you. What you were thinking, what you were feeling. I knew you as well as I knew myself. At times, we thought the same, and we felt the same.
My debt of gratitude to you is beyond comprehension.
We decided we would take our relationship to the next level - Obedience training. Okay, I admit, it was my mom’s idea, because she saw the shenanigans we were getting up to and she thought some discipline might be in order. She was right.
We started early in the year and we committed to countless weekends of school. 2 hours every Saturday (and the bastards never told us about the homework). We were the rebels of the class, of course. I knew you knew what the hell these idiots were up to and what they wanted us to do. So we did it. Perfectly, of course. The training made us even closer. We were a team. It wasn’t ever about me training you. It was about us showing off in front of other people. We showed those insecure ‘pets’ what a real dog/human relationship was all about.
The funniest was when they taught ‘How to Fetch’. We were so far ahead of the group that we already knew the whole “STAY… staaaaaaaaay…. FETCH!” and you’d bolt off to fetch the stupid ‘dumbbell’. It’s not called a dumbbell for nothing, now is it? What sort of an idiot dog would fetch and then return the damn thing? You, my friend, would fetch and then trot around proudly, taunting me, and going: “I got it now. What you going to do about it?”
My mom would have to drop us both off at “school” and then she would have to park around the corner. She had to hide the car because, otherwise, during our “fetching” task, you would run like the hounds of hell were snapping at your heels, grab the “dumbbell” and then tear off to the car. Smiling smugly the entire time, you would haughtily prance about going: “I’ve got it dude, let’s go!”
Caleb, we have shared an incredible path together. You have been my guardian angel for 14 years. From 16-30. Those are pretty formative years in a human, and you have shared them all with me. As with any great friend, years apart while I was at university, or not living at home anymore, didn’t even dent our connection. You could smell me before I was there. You could hear me over the phone. You even knew when I was in close proximity by getting excited when I was still blocks away.
I loved you as a brother, if not closer.
Whenever I visited home, you monopolized my time. You stared at me constantly, and when I stared back, all I felt was a warm, all-embracing glow of love. We could sit outside, on the porch at my mom’s farm, and simply stare at the horizon. Both of us smiling and enjoying our companionship. Our closeness.
You have been my rock, my friend and my most ineffable relationship. Our time together has shaped me as a man. You have taught me many things, above all, unconditional love. I will never forget you. I will never stop loving you.
Today, we took that final walk together. You were smiling… and it was because I was there. You were so happy to see me. I hugged you all the way there. I wished with all my might that you could feel my love wrapped around you. I wanted you to know that you were loved. Loved as much as any being can love another. I wanted you to feel safe. I wanted you to feel that I was there with you. I needed to be there with you.
I spoke to you. After 14 good years, you are deaf as a brick, but I have always known that never mattered. We spoke our own language and we always understood. I showed you my love for you when our eyes met. It has always been that way. All we ever needed was to look into each other’s eyes. I kissed you goodbye and then I held you. The needle hurt a little, but only for a second or two. But you knew you were safe. You knew I was there holding you. You slipped away quietly with my arms around you. You could feel my love and you knew it was going to be okay. I held you and I projected warmth and love towards you. Even once you had gone, I still held you and honoured you. I was there for you always too.
Thank you. From the depths of my soul… Thank you.
I shared Caleb’s life with him. I am glad I did.
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