May 1, 1996-December 13, 2012
So, courage...it's not the absence of fear. It's forging ahead despite your fear. Our little Welsh Corgi Callie displayed that courage throughout her life.
We first fell in love with Callie because of her extraordinary powers of perception and patience. In her breeder's kitchen more than 16 years ago, we were trying to decide between Callie and one sister remaining from a litter of seven girls. Now, of course, all puppies are adorable. And Callie's sister was adorably dragging around a 3-foot-long furry-squeaky-snake toy...which Callie really wanted. So we watched as Callie watched and waited. She never made a move to steal away the prized toy. She. Just. Watched.
And when her sister got distracted (as puppies do) and dropped the toy, Callie triumphantly took possession. And Susan and I said, "We want that one." We knew she would be smart and clever and exceptional, and she never disappointed us.
Baby Callie & the liberated snake
She almost didn't have a name, though: for two weeks before we went back to take her home, we came up empty. Then we stumbled across a volume on Celtic folklore in a mall bookstore, and found a moon goddess named Callie Berry. And that became our new puppy's enchanting name. Further proof of her enchantment (because she always smelled like flowers and baby powder) came when a gorgeous blue and black butterfly landed on her back one sunny summer morning.
Callie's butterfly friend
With her big dark eyes and white face, Callie was uncommonly beautiful. She was also born shy and skittish. When she first came to live with us and our other new puppy Mickey (four months older and already ensconced as Queen of the Realm after two months with us), Callie was very timid and seemed downright depressed. Mickey claimed everything in their domain: "My Mommy, my Daddy, my toys, my noms..." Mickey even tried to reclaim her original crate, which she'd outgrown, by squeezing in alongside the new baby sister with whom she wanted to share nothing.
Mickey: "Why can't they ALL be my crates?"
Gradually, relations warmed. One day, Callie came over and bowed her face to Mickey, who maternally and affectionately proceeded to lick Callie's eyes clean. This endearing ritual would be repeated many times over the 16 years they spent together.
And then Callie discovered how much she loved squeaky toys. She'd happily march around the house with a toy in her mouth, making "Callie music" -- which always made us laugh.
"I take requests...as long as it's squeaky!"
But Callie's shyness with other dogs and new people made us concerned for the limitations it would place her life. Over time, with training (at which Callie excelled) and treats (an appetite which never flagged), we were able to take advantage of everyday situations to help her conquer her skittishness. When our morning walks took us past the elementary-school bus stop, the kids would flock to our cute dogs. Mickey would wade in to be petted by as many kids as possible. Callie would creep off to the side, but a couple of the kids gravitated to "the shy one." And with each pleasant encounter, Callie's confidence grew.
Later, we were invited to visit Howard Community College's Kids on Campus summer camp program, for a fun class called Pets & Vets. A dozen 8-10-year-old kids would be ready and waiting to ask questions, pet the dog, laugh at her tricks -- and knowing Mickey would soak up the love and attention, we first took her without Callie. We didn't really think Callie would enjoy the intensity. We were wrong -- as Callie proved when we experimentally took them to camp together. Then, one hot day, Mickey decided she no longer enjoyed her visits, so she retired and Callie took over as a solo act -- overcoming her fears and having a wonderful time.
Professor Callie and her camp kids
We had to say farewell to gallant Callie this week at the advanced age of 16 years and 7 months. She's crossed that Rainbow Bridge with her refreshed puppy bounce, and I know Mickey is there for her, waiting to lick her eyes and show her around. We miss them both more than we can say.
Except for two hollow weeks in May 1996, between Annie's passing and Mickey's arrival, Welsh Corgis have been my companions for 31 consecutive years. We have reminders of our three amazing dogs all over the house, which now seems empty and sad. The best way to celebrate Annie, Mickey and Callie -- and thank them for all the joy they gave us and all the lessons they taught us -- is to get another Corgi puppy. And that can't happen too soon for me.
Pets often turn out to be the best of what we would like to be. Annie was the personification (dogification?) of confidence and wisdom; Mickey, sweetness and love; and Callie, curiosity and courage.
Callie Berry, our jaunty and brave little friend, thank you for the honor of your company.