It is not common practice to hold a memorial service in honor of an animal. Usually, human beings reserve such traditions to honor one of their own, to remember and sanctify the loss of an important person, a person whose loss is deeply felt, a person whose presence will be dearly missed.
It is not common practice to hold a service of remembrance in honor of an animal, but Caleb, who we are all here to remember today, was anything but common. He came into my life and saved it; he cherished me when I had not yet learned how to cherish myself. He trusted me with his love and devotion at a time when I was not sure I could be trusted to do anything of value for anyone. A dog with true intuition and soulful eyes, Caleb saw me through nine years of trial and triumphs. He was my pillow, my blanket, my best friend, my savior, and my first son.
Caleb and I met by accident. My father and I traveled up to Cumberland, Maine on a snowy winter’s day in late February, and as I looked at a litter of puppies, my heart set on a female, my father picked up Caleb. Initially, I did not want to look, as he wasn’t a girl, but thank goodness my father insisted. As soon as his fuzzy four-week-old body touched my hands, we were both insistently smitten. As his head rested on my shoulder, he gave me little kisses, and I knew we needed to be together.
Caleb came home on April 5, 2005. His new mom, me, was a recovering anorexic, struggling to get through each day, constantly overwhelmed, and Caycay was a fearful, tired puppy who missed his littermates. Sensing that he needed quiet time, I took him right into my bedroom, and together, we fell asleep on the bed, snuggled up. We never slept apart again, and our bond was cemented. A silent vow: Caleb and I would take care of one another, and that is just what we did for almost a decade.
I will not list all the difficult moments that Caleb saw me through, but there are many. In return, all that he asked for was my attention, and it was my pleasure to give it to him. He was my shadow. A copilot in the car, a couch buddy, heck, he even sat outside the shower door for me, this dog loved me in a way I never dreamed anyone or anything ever would want to. Caleb’s love and need for me brought me back from the abyss; it gave me meaning at a time in which I seemingly had none. His gift to me, quite simply, is that he gave me back my life.
Caleb and I spent nine wonderful years together. As my life changed, his changed too, but what never changed was our intense love and devotion to each other. He traveled with his brother and I, and we explored the world. Gettysburg, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Niagara Falls were all places Caleb saw in his lifetime! His love for his auntie Lori, his grandparents, and Alec brought him great joy, and in his last year of life, he grew into a wonderful family dog who loved David, Holden, and Parker, and nurtured Alec and a new puppy. My heart breaks, as his time here was far too short, and I am devastated that he will not be with me to share in my marriage, the birth of my biological children, or play with his brother, Alec, anymore. As I work to accept and to mourn his passing, I acknowledge the loss of a soul mate, a creature who spent every day of his life giving my life worth, and did so out of pure and deep love for me, a pure and meaningful love which I returned, a love that will never leave me.