Kallie was born in Greene County, Tennessee, around the 3rd day of December, 2002. She was part of a litter of four pups that lived to adulthood. Her original family put an ad in a trading post paper and my eyes saw that ad, and soon I was driving over to the banks of the Nolichuckey River to hunt this little German Shepherd-mix dog that was to be “free to a good home.”
My eyes first fell on two little brown and black marked pups, males, that were fuzzy and had big paws, and were running around, bravely yapping at one another and my Jeep. I was informed by the lady of the house that these were already spoken for. So I looked around and spotted a little short-haired black and white dog. It, too, was male. I inquired about it, and the lady of the house sheepishly told me that this dog was becoming a favorite of her children, so they would like to keep it. I looked in exasperation for another and saw none. I shrugged my arms and said, “Is there any other?” She said there was one female that was in this litter, but it was stuck up under the smoke-house, and wouldn’t come out.
About that time a large, momma German Shepherd, full-blooded, came walking past us. She was gorgeous, and had ears standing straight on her noble head. The lady in charge told me, “We don’t know who the daddy dog was, but these are all mixed pups.” Her son told her he was willing to try and reach the female pup. He crawled, wiggled, and reached but came up short. I thought, “This was a waste of time.” The lady saw me getting set to go home and asked me if she could bring it to me. I told her where I lived. I said, “That’s a long way. I tell you what, if you catch the dog, bring it to Weber City and I’ll meet you there, that’s about half-way.” She agreed. I left, looking anxiously at the beautiful mother dog, and wondering if I would ever get one.
A few days later the phone call came and I was back in the Jeep, traveling this time only 45 minutes to Weber City, and met this lady at a store near my ancestral home. The puppy was beautiful. She seemed fearful in her first car ride, and didn’t want to meet anyone new. I turned her on her back and laid my hand on her belly. She wiggled, and then turned over. I was told that was a test that if she didn’t turn over, she’d be a good dog. But I wanted her pretty badly by now and took her into my Jeep. She buried her head under the front seat. I looked up and spotted a billboard above the parking lot. It was advertising a new restaurant in Gate City, called “Kallie’s.” I thought, “Ok, little’n. You must be Kallie.”
The stench of fresh cow manure accompanied us all the way home. Kallie had gotten in a fresh pile before she left her mother. I planned on getting in the garage, shutting the door, and letting her out to see what she’d do. That plan worked only after I pulled this dog from under the seat. She was not sure she wanted to be there. And she got away as I was picking her up and headed for the area under the dash board, climbing like she wanted to get to the motor. I gently pulled and picked her up, and set her down on the garage floor. She went right to the area halfway between the tires where I couldn’t reach her. I kept trying until finally I got her in my arms, and held her tight. I asked Tammie, my wife, to get me a wet towel so I could try to wipe this stinky pup down.
As I gently wiped her fuzzy coat, and held her and talked to her, she began to stop fighting and began to see that I meant her no harm. Soon she was licking my face. I thought about how God does this same thing with us as he washes us in the waters of baptism, holding us as we resist, and removing the stench of sin from our spirits. Soon we find our selves looking into our Father’s face, and realize, we belong to Him and He belongs to us.
By the time we moved to Jonesborough, Tennessee, not far from Kallie’s origin, it was time to think about having her fixed so she wouldn’t have a big litter of puppies herself. I arranged it and the Vet took her for the night. I picked her up the next day and she seemed upset. I took her home and let her come into the finished portion of the basement to sleep off her anesthesia and pain medicine. I was sitting in my recliner, just reading when all at once, Kallie got up from her bed and came to my chair. She looked up into my eyes with a longing I didn’t quite understand. I thought about it and decided she wanted on my lap. I lowered the recliner slowly, and she got up to me. I pulled her up to my lap very gently and reclined the chair again. She laid longways on me, with her head as close to my chin as she could get, and her tail between my feet. She slept for over an hour on me like this. I thought about the trust she was putting in me. I felt overwhelmed and thankful.
Kallie shepherded our family. Always looking out for anything that would be trouble, like a stray cat, or dog, and certain strangers. She was always herding us away from what she perceived to be trouble.
She finally earned her way to the coveted spot beneath our bed as her special place to sleep through the night. I learned to get up early and take her out. She patiently waited for the snoring to end so she could get relief.
During our days with a foster child, who we have kept for the past eight years, Kallie would gladly join us in the car for the daily ride to school in the mornings and evenings. She enjoyed a little leftover ice cream from our cones and eggs from our plates.
Except for those times when she got the storm jitters and had to seek cover, her courage and alertness were always on. The last few years she began to go downhill, having trouble with her back legs, manifesting itself when she tried to go up or down steps. She found a way to slow down, concentrate, and try a little harder.
Her arthritis led to having to have aspirin therapy each day. She didn’t like the aspirin, but loved the cheese it was wrapped in.
I was gone nine days for vacation this year, her longest Kennel time ever. When I picked her up, she kept putting her head up to see if I was still up in the front of the car. It was obvious she missed being loved by us those days.
She came down with a nasty infection in one of her back legs. I was confronted with a choice. Either doctor her with antibiotics, and watch her continue to decline, or let her go on to her maker. I had known this day was coming, as day after day I had seen her limp and move so gingerly, and sleep continuously, and drink loads of water. She wanted nothing more than to be as close to me as she could.
On Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, I made the decision to let the vet put her down. I stayed in the room and watched through a flood of tears. The peacefulness of her body after the medicine took effect was my only consolation that day.
To be loved by a creature of God’s is one of life’s highest forms of blessing. Dogs are certainly a form of grace. Unconditional, loyal, and trusting.
Someone sent me a poem called “Rainbow bridge.”
|Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.|
|All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
It just so happened that someone also posted a picture of the valley where Kallie rests. The post was the day Kallie took her last breath. Here’s the picture: