Monday, February 10, 2020

Missing Caillou ~ my column from Sunday's paper

I woke up in the night to the sound of thunder. Instinctively, I pulled my hand from beneath the covers and reached down to pet Caillou.
Then I remembered he wasn’t there. Storms will no longer terrify his gentle soul. He died on Monday.
He chose us over 10 years ago. Early one morning, he was standing outside our great-room window peering in as we sipped our coffee.
Both Jilda and I walked out and sat on the front steps to pet him up. He was the most beautiful collie I’d ever seen. He had a collar but no tag.
It took some time, but we found his owner. She sent her brother to come and fetch the collie. Later that day, he was back.
We sent word that the collie was back at our house playing with our dogs. He was there a few days before they picked him up again.
The next day, I heard a pitiful sound from the backyard. Stepping outside, I looked around and couldn’t see anything, but then I heard the moan again. 
I walked in the direction of the sound, and near the edge of the yard, the collie was hanging on the back fence. He’d tried to jump into the yard, but his back paw poked through one of the chain links, and he was hanging there. 
Most of his body was inside the fence, but the chain links were holding his paw like a vice. I bolted to where he was trapped and held him up enough to take the pressure off his leg. He was too heavy to hold and remove his paw, so I yelled to Jilda for help. Together we dislodged his paw, and he hobbled into the shade to rest. 
Later, when the neighbor came back to fetch the dog, the collie tried to bite him. He’d made his choice. They never came back for him.
We named him Caillou (Cow Loo) after our great-nephew Jordan’s favorite cartoon character.
Caillou was an instant hit with the kids. Every time we had a family gathering, he was in the middle of them. He was a master ball handler that took kickball and soccer to a different level. He would grab the ball and play keep-away from the kids. He was in doggie heaven.
He also liked to herd kids. If a toddler wandered toward the edge of the yard, Caillou would use his size to nudge the child back with the others.
During the three years Jilda took infusion treatments for her immune system, she spent days on the couch. It wasn’t hard to find Caillou during those times, because he was there by her side.
In the last several months, we noticed that something about him was changing. He couldn’t walk but one lap when we walked each day, and he spent more and more time on his bed in front of the box fan.
Then this past weekend, he crawled under the laundry room and would not come out. He stopped eating and drinking. When I took him to the vet Monday, he was passing blood. Tests showed that his organs were shutting down. 
We made the decision to put him down rather than subject him to torturous treatment that would only prolong his suffering.
I leaned against the car as I waited for them to bring his body out. The sky was cloudless. A gentle wind rattled the American flag on the pole in the parking lot. Maybe a stronger man would not have cried, but as I helped load Caillou into the car, I wept.
I dug his grave in the backyard near where we buried Ol’ Buddy, Black, and Charlie. 
We will miss our friend.


  1. What a gift you were to one another! A wise man once wrote, "Tears are for the living." I, too, have shed more than my share.

  2. So beautiful. I'm glad he chose you and Jilda cause he was loved beyond words. They just dont live long enough.

  3. I wept when you told us and I am weeping again.
    Hugs to you, to Jilda and to the other dogs too.

  4. An extra good dog. I suspect the former owner did not treat him well. He knew where he would be appreciated.

  5. That must have been a hard story to write, but it definitely shows what a great dog he was and the picture shows how beautiful he was.So very sorry for your loss, but you have some great memories to carry you though.

  6. Since 'Lassie Come Home' in the 40's I have loved collies. This is a very good column I know your readers enjoyed the sweet but sad column. Very good. Yep Caillou was a beauty and lived a doggie dream life with you guys.
    Sherry & jack over in NC

  7. It is gut-wrenching to have to end a dog's life. We know it is the right thing but it doesn't hurt less. You will see signs of her still watching over you from time to time.

  8. Sometimes we rescue a pet but mostly they rescue us. This was so touching and brought tears to my eyes. Caillou knew where he belonged and I'm so glad he had a good life with you and Jilda. So sorry for your loss.

  9. I just have a tear in my eye. It’s so sad when we lost a member of our fur family.


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