August 18, 2010

Our first baby

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 10:10 pm by letterstoelias

Just over 10 yrs ago – we were new home (well, condo) owners, newly married – and we were ready for yet another big step.

Our weekends were spent walking dogs at the SPCA – which we loved to do, yet we were ready for a dog of our own.  We knew it had to be the right fit with where we lived, and as we were fairly regular at the SPCA, a wonderful employee there took our name and offered to call us if she felt anything seemed to be a good fit.

You got the call when I was at work, and rushed out to see who had been brought in.  An 8 month (or so) old sharpei-lab cross named Sheba.  You called me up and wanted to bring her home right away, but I wanted to have a look too.  By the time we arrived the next day, Sheba’s sister Shaggy had been brought in as well.

We took them for a walk together, and I still remember how funny it was that their bellies swayed in unison as they walked side by side, almost connected to each other.  We knew we could likely only take one and I hated the thought of separating them, but we were told that they had not lived together for the last 6 months, and that Sheba tended to be a bit hard on the (slightly) smaller sister, Shaggy, anyhow – and it was noticeable by the scratches on her face that came courtesy of Sheba (though we later found out just how easily her skin scratches . . . ).

I am often a fan of the ‘underdog’ (pardon the pun) and fell in love with Shaggy.  I remember as we drove home from the SPCA – looking from you driving, to the her in the back of the car, so calm and peaceful – I couldn’t help but smile.  In my heart, it felt right.  I hoped we had made the right decision and that we would be a good fit for each other.  And we were.

There were so many things that were perfect about Shaggy – but her name was not one of them.  She was far from shaggy, and it didn’t seem to match her personality.  Picking a new name for her was an arduous task and I recall it gave me fears about what it would be like when it was time to name our children.  But, eventually we settled on Caliente – or ‘Cali’ for short.

Of course there were issues with Cali, as with many young pups.  Chewing and barking – the latter causing some discourse with our neighbours (a flyer for a bark collar was slid under our door one afternoon).  But some bitter apple spray solved the chewing and a citrus spray collar helped solve the barking issue.

I loved that, though this is a dog who is scared of the sound of her own farts (and the dishwasher, and the waffle maker, and a number of other things) – she looks tough, and can act it too when she wants to, so as I had to walk her at night while you were working it was great that people would often cross the street when they saw us coming.  She’s been beat up by more than one cat, and even my love bird took a few bites of her nose, yet she still makes me feel safe.

I love her unique look that comes from her mix (sharp-lab as we loved to call her), and her cute, velvety soft ears.  The ‘flappy sound’ her cheeks make when she shakes her head.  And, of course, her eyes.  As we worked opposite schedules, she made a wonderful companion for each of us – and weekends were often spent with the three of us together at the off-leash dog park.  After spending about $2k and a almost a year’s worth of recoup time after ACL surgeries on each of her hind legs, she lost some of her socialization skills, and it can still take a bit of time before she earns the trust of strangers, but she has always been a great, great dog.

She’s been through a lot with us.  She was the only one there when you had your second seizure – licking your face as you came to.  She was there when each of the girls were born – though I think locked in a room somewhere as it stressed her out a bit.   She protected me in a couple of ‘incidents’ where we were ran at by off leash dogs while walking (which since makes it much harder for me to walk her as she is always extra on guard with me).  She has always been ever patient with the girls – through ear and tail pulling, big hugs and constantly getting stepped on (especially by C) without much more than an uncomfortable groan and an attempt to walk away.  She has been a royal pain in the ass and still barks incessantly at times, but sometimes this comes in handy when someone a little ‘suspect’ comes to the door.

When you died, I wasn’t sure I could handle her.  I immediately noticed all the grey that has worked it’s way through her chocolate fur, and worried that she would be next, and soon, and there was no way I could live through that.  When Martin took her for a few days last year, a part of me hoped initially that perhaps he would want to keep her (bear in mind, this was only three weeks after you died and I was really not in a clear state).  It didn’t take much time of her being gone, however, for me to realize just how much I still need her.

Now, she is my one and only evening companion.  After the girls are in bed, she is by my side all night.  She gets up when I do, follows me around.  She often hopefully gets into her bed – until she realizes that I’m not going to yet, so she returns to my side at the couch until it is time.  She still sleeps in our room, and I am comforted to hear her breathing at night – though it is not the same, it helps.  She doesn’t always hear all the noises I do (my hearing must have improved since you died, as now I hear all sorts of noises in the night that never seemed to bother me before), but I figure if something doesn’t bother her, it’s likely ok.

She misses you too.  I could see it so clearly in the days after you died, and I know it is still true.  I feel badly that she doesn’t get as much attention or credit as she is due.  I don’t know what the years to come have for her.  But I am so happy she is here, an arms reach away every night, every so often taking a moment to sit up and look at me with those big, brown, soulful eyes as she rests her head on the couch and peacefully takes the pats I give her.

When we brought her home that day, I never would have expected she and I would be living together without you, but for 10 wonderful years – thank you, Cali.

P.S.  I Love You (Elias and Cali)


  1. Dan Cano said,

    Hey Chelsea. I had logged on right after you posted this. As soon as I finished writing you a comment my Internet access disconnected. Anyway, what I said was that I appreciated this beautifully written post. It is good to remember the good things we have in our lives, such as our pets, as they do give us so much love and comfort. My dog is also a barker, and can be a pain in the ass at times, but I do love him. Our cat came to us when Michael’s aunt died. The cat, Carelli, was there for me every night that I was up crying after Michael was diagnosed. He has now outlived Michael’s aunt Nancy and Michael. He will probably out live all of us.

    I hope you are well.

    Love. Dan

    • letterstoelias said,

      Thanks Dan (and that happens to me sometimes when I try to comment on your blog . . . it’s so frustrating!)

      Ironically – just after I posted this, a ‘creature’ of some sort was making noise in my yard and as Cali and I got up to check it out I saw it jump at my window. Cali, of course, started barking like crazy and wanted out – but as I don’t have a clue what (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t big, but . . . ) it was I kept her in – which then woke up Caia.

      At least whatever it was disappeared. I hope Cali’s with me for a loooong time, and Carelli sticks around for you as well.


  2. mamabearsarah said,

    first of all, your short hair was adorable but i think you look even more gorgeous now!!

    my dog is the same way only a little feisty because he just turned 3. there are scratches carved deeply into the back of the wood bedroom door from our dog from when the paramedics were working on Brett and i had locked him in the bedroom. and he, too, went through a very depressive few months when “dad” didn’t come home 😦

    he’s a pain in the ass most days but he’s faithful and sleeps next to me everynite. he was Brett’s dog but he has become my dog 🙂

    • letterstoelias said,

      I loved having short hair – it was easy to keep up because I worked in a hair salon at the time . . . but thanks for the comments luv!


  3. Debbie said,

    Beautiful post Chelsea. Reminds me of both of our dogs (different parts of your story remind me of each dog) and again shows how universal some parts of this grief journey can be.

    I agree with Sarah. Your short hair was so cute but you’re gorgeous with long hair too!

    Love Deb

    • letterstoelias said,

      Thanks Deb – I recall reading your posts about your dogs too, and found those connections as well . . .
      Hope all is well in Sask.

  4. Dianne said,

    Man…your hair grows FAST! You look gorgeous :0)

    • letterstoelias said,

      Thanks Dianne!

  5. Beautifully told, darling, and you two look fabulous together. I’m glad for this member of your family!

    • letterstoelias said,

      Thanks Supa,
      Those wee beasties can often make a big impact on our families . . .
      Hope your power is all restored!


  6. Boo Mayhew said,

    made me cry. What a wonderful post C. So tender. xx

  7. Boo Mayhew said,

    did you see that photo of you at the registration desk reaching out with your hand to touch Dan’s hand? I was looking on with a big lump in my throat because I knew it was a special moment ❤

    It's on the SSLF picassa site, but also on my blog post about Camp Widow (to save you trawling thru the whole album) oh and on my Facebook page too x

    • letterstoelias said,

      Thanks Boo – I didn’t see the photo you mention though. . . . I’ve had a quick look for it, but will have to spend a bit more time. Hope all is well in the UK


  8. […] written in the past about how much my dog Cali means to me.  Elias and I adopted her the year we got married, and she […]

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