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For the Dogs - a Catahoula's Tale

Our buddy Charley blew in like a hurricane.

Our buddy Charley blew in like a hurricane.  His namesake is from the hurricane Charley that ravaged Florida in 2004.  He was born in Port Charlotte and was only 6 weeks old when our brother-in-law rescued him from a family that could not enter a shelter with a pet.  They were living in their car and realized that they had to give up Charley in order to get their life fitted back together.


The day I met this little bugger, he, just like a hurricane, swept into my heart hard and fast.  I couldn't get him off my mind. When Calvin met him, he did the same thing to Calvin. And thus, he blew into our lives with hurricane force and he left our lives with same fast rush.

Nothing about Charley was soft, except his fur and his eyes.  Everything he did, he did with purpose. He wasn't lazy or sloppy.  In fact, when he drank his water and ate his food the area around him was sparkling clean.  He would go crazy if the house became disorganized. He walked with a trot, like a dog in show. He kept me in check. I couldn't get lazy with him. Everyday was a whirlwind of noise, activity and constant training. There was no day off.

Like a hurricane he would always show you how unprepared you were for it.  And then, there was the quiet aftermath.

At night, when he would hear the doors to the TV room open he perked up, so excited, for the relaxation time with Calvin and I.  Then, when we would go to our room to sleep at night, we all could feel Charley's happy radiance fill the room. Every night we slept so happy because you could just feel how happy Charley was from ending a busy day filled with walks, mischief and love. It was a palatable feeling you could feel it on your skin, this happiness and joy gently resting on us as we slept.

The day he decided to leave was just as hard and fast as when he blew into our lives.  One moment he was standing drinking water and the next, on the floor and couldn't stand on any of his legs.  We thought maybe he had a seizure when we were gone or a little heart attack. So we cancelled our days plans and stayed home.  Hoping things would change.

Around 4 in the afternoon Calvin thought "I know how to motivate him up", he proceeded to open the doors to the TV room, a sure signal he would bounce up.  I watched as Charley's little head perked up and he tried his damndest to get up. Panting madly, he wanted so bad to go into his favorite relaxing place with us.  That is the moment I looked at Calvin and said, “We have to call the vet. We can't do this alone”.

When I called, they put us on STAT status.  We arrived quickly and all 65 pounds of Charley was placed on a stretcher and carried by 2 techs.  We waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. I texted my mom, she knew, in her heart this was Charley's time.  She said, "this is the way rags left us too". (Rags was my pitbull best friend from childhood.) So, I started to prepare for the worst.  Calvin asked what did she say, and I looked at him and said to prepare for the worst. I’m so glad for that text. It was hard.

I had my normal vet on speaker-phone, whom I love and adore, and would never be able to get through this without her and the emergency vet in the room.  We were told the news, Charley would need a major surgery that would be very difficult and painful for his age. And unrelated to that, something unknown was happening in his spine.  He lost all functions of movement. This was a huge signal, it was time.

That night, I laid in my bed and I could still feel Charley trying his hardest to fill our room with that warm feeling we all loved to fall asleep with. Indra was unusually quiet. She would get up periodically looking around, and then settle back in.  I know she was wondering what in the world was Charley doing. I cried myself to sleep wrapped in Calvins arms.

The next morning, I realized we didn't have our usual summer storms blow through at all on Friday night nor the morning after.  I was so grateful for Charley. Storms were his worst nightmare and he absolutely hated the wind. I was so relieved to know as he moved on he had clear skies and cooler temperatures, just like the day after a hurricane.  This weather we're having these last 2 days were Charley's favorite. He would romp in the yard all day long hunting lizards and chasing squirrels.

Yoga teaches us loss is hard, because with every loss there is memory.  Carrying the memory of Charley in my soul is a gift. A beautiful gift. Every hurricane, every thunderstorm will draw memories of him. But, these memories are welcomed.  And, while many times we struggled with whose is the leader of pack, at the end of the day, there was pure love. No conditions. Just that simple pure, easy-going love every single person yearns for.  

If it weren't for Charley, I wouldn’t be so strong and energetic. He was my reminder, you can't be lazy, mom. No laziness till after we have done our work for the day. Because of Charley I work like a dog, play like a dog and rest like a dog.  And like a dog, I will take a day nap after a long few hours of continuous hard work.

Just like there will never be another hurricane Charley, there will never be another Charley the Catahoula.  Totally irreplaceable, he will always hold a gigantic warm spot in my little heart.

With so much love for you (goofy) little guy,