Miss Callie


I know I promised a post on my recent trip to India, but I have not managed to finish it yet because of very sad events in the weeks since I came home. My beautiful little dog Callie was sick when I returned, not eating and having trouble breathing, so I have been quite worried about her. Last Wednesday her breathing was so difficult and she seemed so frail that I took her in to the emergency room at my local animal hospital. They admitted her to the Critical Care Unit where she was put into an oxygen tent while they tried to figure out what was going on. On Saturday, after no real change and being told by the very good ER vet that there was nothing else to try, and seeing that she was in quite a bit of distress, I made the decision to help her go into whatever is next for us all.

I know that a lot of you here know how painful it is to lose a pet…and really pet seems like such an inadequate word, too, especially when it comes to Callie. We rescued each other in April of 2011 after my father and my first dog Gemma passed away within two months of each other. Callie had grown up in a commercial dog breeding enterprise, known here as a puppy mill; they are truly some of the worst examples of humans ill-treating our fellow creatures anywhere on earth. She had never known love, had been confined her whole life in a tiny cage barely larger than she, had had no medical care despite being forced to breed at every opportunity, providing cute puppies to be sold in pet stores. When she could not give birth any more, she was lucky enough to be rescued by a woman who coaxed her slowly into a new life and eventually sent her to me.

She quickly settled in and became attached to me (I fell in love with her instantly). Her big brown eyes followed me wherever I went, and if I disappeared from view she’d get up and come find me. She started to become anxious when I would leave the house without her, so in July I got her a companion who also instantly fell in love with her (Gilda has always and forever considered Callie her primary “Mom”). I think Callie was less sure she wanted to share space with Gilda at first, but Gilda persisted in her adoration and Callie in her infinite sweetness of spirit accepted her (and most importantly, stopped being anxious when I left the house without her). Gilda for her part gracefully accepted that Callie was always going to be the one in my lap when there was not room for two.


(Photos taken by my friend and photographer extraordinaire BD Colen)

We three bumbled along happily until February of 2012, when I was awakened one morning by Gilda and realized that Callie was having a seizure. My poor gentle girl was about to face another huge hurdle to cross: Granulomatous Meningoencephalitis (GME). It is a devastating auto-immune disease which takes the life of most dogs within months, but I am lucky enough to live near Angell Memorial, one of the (if not THE) best animal hospitals in the world. She was treated by a neurologist who specializes in GME, and for a year and a half endured chemotherapy treatments (I had to learn how to give her injections) and large doses of prednisone, a steroid, which caused a lot of her fur to fall out and made her very weak indeed. She soldiered through it like a champ, though, and as of December last year was in remission, although decidedly more fragile. By this summer she seemed much brighter and happier than she had since her diagnosis, and when I left in October for India I felt as good about her health as was possible given her history and the toll it had taken on her.


I left all three dogs (had added Bandit to the family in May) in the capable and loving hands of a friend who came here to stay with them and take care of the house too. A couple of nights before I came home, Callie threw up her dinner and stopped eating, except for small amounts fed by hand. When I returned, her breathing was shallow and rapid and I couldn’t coax her to eat much either, which brings us to last Wednesday and three difficult days later, to Saturday. The vets are not sure what was wrong, but think she developed blood clots which went into her lungs, and nothing they tried eased her distress.

She endured so much trauma and pain in her ten years here on earth. I didn’t want her to hang on for my sake, which I knew she was capable of doing despite her own suffering. Dogs are amazing that way. She passed away peacefully in my lap, where she loved to be most, and I think she was reassured that her journey would be a good one, to a better place. But making the choice to let go and being left behind is one of the hardest things we ever have to endure. Her small, frail little body and enormous courage and sweetness of spirit have left a huge hole where they had burrowed in. I know I will be okay: I have my Bandit and Gilda to care for and to care for me, plus a wealth of friends and family helping to prop me up. I hope to be able to share details of my India trip soon, but this is all I can manage for now.

Sleep in peace, sweet Callie girl, and gain your strength for what is next. I hope that it includes me, in some form. I love you so.


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82 Comments to “Miss Callie”

  1. I am so terribly sorry Memsaab. I have been through the same a number of times. It is heartbreaking but really it is our responsibility to ensure that our pets are not in pain. Dear Callie will always remain with you and both of you were lucky to have each other.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my little pug Sookie in October of this year after spending an incredible eleven and a half years with her. Your little one may be gone, but certainly not forgotten. She is forever in your heart, and is smiling down upon you sweetly thankful for the loving care you provided.

  3. I am so sorry. You are an angel for showing Callie so much love after years of suffering. Rip Callie. Take comfort in the fact she died truly happy. Xx

    • She showed me so much love after all her suffering, that was truly the amazing thing. She was easy to love, and had the most soothing and sweet presence. She was truly beautiful in every way.

  4. Of course you would not. We feel this pain because they give us so much happiness. Much love and strength to you.

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss.   

  6. Oh, such a heartbreaking news. I will always cherish her pictures with me which I took during my two visits. She was an angel and will always be with you, Bandit and Gilda.

  7. So sorry to hear about your loss.

  8. I feel no shame at all to admit that I am completely a pool of teary-eyed mush. You were lucky to have her, and she was lucky to have you. The best we can get in this world. Much love —

  9. hugs for the article and really wish for a better something for callie

  10. Oh, Greta! I am so sorry for your loss. You were a lifesaver to Callie and I know that she’s looking after you from wherever she is now. I have always enjoyed reading about your family as much as reading your film reviews. Hugs and positive vibes to you and Gilda and Bandit.

  11. I am so sorry for you – loosing a pet is same as letting go of a part of yourself. A pet dog’s love is unconditional and non-judgemental – we humans can learn from that. At least you still have 2 other companions. Callie has gone to a better place.

    • Yes, they really teach us how to love purely and simply. It’s a tough thing to lose. And yes…comforting Gilda especially has helped comfort me too. It’s good to have spares ;-)

  12. Memsaab, I am sorry for your loss! RIP Callie!

  13. This is such a lovely tribute, Greta! I didn’t get to personally meet Callie but through our interactions (and your lovely pics), I feel I knew her too. And I feel a sense of loss too, although nowhere quite like what you must be feeling.

    Like you’ve said, she had a terrible, terrible life before she came into yours. And then, finally, she got some love in her life – and a LOT of it from you. She’s lucky to have had you as mom – and you’re lucky to have had her in your life. You were both there for each other. And I’m sure, wherever she is now, she’s sending you her love from there.

    She went through a lot in her life. She was a fighter all the way – beneath that frail body and very gentle appearance was the spirit of a fighter, for sure. Otherwise she could not have survived all that she went through.

    It must surely be difficult for you right now, Greta – but remember that you did the right thing by her, you gave her love. And that is all she really wanted.

    As for you, your family and friends are always there for you to fall back on – so don’t hesitate to reach out to them.

    I know this comment might come across as disjointed – I’m not even trying to structure it. Just know that you are much loved and we all feel your pain.


    • I keep looking at the lovely dog at the wine bar painting that you sent when I got her…I love the idea of her having cocktails with my other loved ones who have moved on, as they wait for and watch over me.

  14. So sorry for your loss – what a beautiful tribute to a gorgeous girl.

  15. Dearest Greta, I know how hard this must be for you. I remember how Callie came into your life, bringing so much love. All I can say at this time, is tons and tons of love to you.

  16. Am so so sorry :’-( Lots and lots of love and hugs.

  17. Dear Greta,

    I know that no words can comfort you at the moment as your loss is huge. I remember that you shared the sad story of Callie before before she came in your life and I am sure she died peacefully with all your love with her.

    I too believe that pets are part of the close family and so losing a pet is equal to losing a close family member. I remember when we had huge floods at our place and our home was slowly getting under water. So along with ourselves, we were getting our dogs at safe place and people were asking us why we are so bothered about them especially in such emergency. Me and my family felt pity for such people.

    Lots of love and hugs to you. I am sure that with help of your other two lovely pets and family you will cope with this loss.

    • I could never leave my dogs behind in such a situation…I don’t understand people who don’t understand that they are living, sentient, thinking, feeling creatures. Just because we don’t necessarily understand them all the time doesn’t mean they aren’t as worthy! In fact more…they understand us much better than we do them much of the time. Thanks, I am greatly comforted by everyone who understands :)

      (Could I have used the word “understand” any more times?)

  18. Memsaab, this is heartbreaking. Words fail. It was a selfless and courageous choice to end Callie’s suffering; please know that we’re all grieving with you.

  19. Beautifully written Greta.
    Callie will never leave you. Just remember she is running free at Rainbow Bridge as she watches over you all.

    And if she is anything like my Bullet she is going to spend her time at the Bridge training Gilda and Bandit about things they need to learn. I swear Bullet’s spirit is guiding Taj to learn to be a good boy but also to be a complete sod sometimes.

  20. Callie’s memories will keep you happy. Though the loss is irrepaiirable. In fact Callie herself will give you the strength to face this big blow. Think all the good times you had with Callie. With time the pain and anguish will lessen. Take care Greta ji and we are sure Callie is in a better place.
    Suneel Gaur and Rajesh Gaur

    • You are so right—Callie is giving me strength even from wherever it is she has gone. I can feel it, honestly. She always had a way of being able to soothe me. It was one of her biggest gifts to me.

  21. So sorry for your loss. I am a dog lover, and I adore puppies. I know how it feels

  22. Words fail us in times of grief, how can we replace beloved ones, memories perhaps, RIP Callie and may yu have the strength G to pull thru this difficult period. Ash

  23. Callie came and filled a hole in your heart….what extraordinary ladies you both are. when her time came you did not fail her. From being a mere cog in someone’s vile commercIal machine she had the good fortune to have her new life with a caring group. And made her place, giving her constant loyalty and affection. So much can be learned from this story, may that be Callie’s legacy? As long as there are acts of selfless love in this sometimes woeful world, hope remains. Take care, you three, although there is a painful space in the house and on the lap, this will ease with time. It is correct to feel her loss, for she was so very important. Love to you, Greta – and Bandit and Gilda.

    • Callie’s legacy is bigger than I can comprehend all at once…since she’s been gone I have been learning from her life and from the loss every day. I hope that never changes. Thank you :)

  24. But making the choice to let go and being left behind is one of the hardest things we ever have to endure.

    Yes, it is, Greta. :( I’m so, so sorry, my dear. So sorry for you and for Gilda and Bandit, as well. Callie had a wonderful life with you, I know, and I hope she is happy and pain-free wherever she is now. Lots and lots of love and hugs to you at this time.

    • Thanks Anu. I did the best I could by her, although it always seemed like she deserved so much more. But hopefully now she is reaping the rewards of what a beautiful spirit she is.

  25. Memsaab,
    I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful doggie. I am a dog lover and I know how precious they are. I can see she had a wonderful life with you.

    Karen D

  26. A big, giant HUG for the Memsaab family – you, Gilda and Bandit. Love and peace to you all.
    RIP, sweet Callie.

  27. I am sorry for you, honey. It is very hard to lose someone that means so much to you.

    I know Gilda and Bandit will help you get through the hard time, and all your friends.

  28. People who care for fellow human beings deserve our kudos. People who care for dogs deserve much more kudos. And to care for dogs that had suffered so much in their lives-I am sure you are to hapless dogs where Mother Teresa was to hapless human beings. You were a saint as far as Callie was concerned for rescuing her and giving her the best in her life in her last years. Our hearts went out to her on reading about her past, and we were so relieved to realise that now she was in your care. And you have given her the best care that anyone could have given her including medical attention. It pains me whenever I see dogs being made to suffer, and it cheers me when I find people who care for them. Callie was in the best hands possible and that must have meant a lot to her, I am sure.

    RIP Callie ! You will always remain in our memory.

    • If only human beings didn’t harm each other AND other creatures…It shouldn’t be that hard to be kind and empathetic. Thank you for caring about her too…you would have fallen hard for her in person :) Hugs.

  29. I can feel what you are going through. God bless Callie. We too have a pet called “Mia” which is epileptic. The first time it happened, my daughter was in shock. Later, after going to a vet, who prescribed some medication, she is better now. But, on the whole, she is not in the best of health, very very fussy about eating and one word in a raised voice, she will stop eating!! Everytime we go out, she starts crying and moaning like a child. Attachment can be very, very painful.

    • Oh poor Mia :( And seizures are so very difficult to watch. Does she take zonisamide? That’s what Callie was on, she also had epilepsy due to the GME. It kept her from having seizures but she was often quite “twitchy”. Very worrisome. Best to you and Mia, she is lucky to have a loving family.

  30. This is so sad to hear! I empathize. We have adopted three abandoned dogs over the years(two are still ..org us). The life and love we share with pets and the bond that is made, their personalities and protective devotion are real things that don’t go away. Thank you for sharing so much.

    • They are very real, and if you let them, a source of great comfort. I feel Callie’s spirit near me, and I think of all the things she taught me, and the ways she made me a better person, and I hope I honor those above all.

  31. …with us…

  32. very very sorry to hear about your loss! sending you love to tide through this difficult time!

  33. Hi memsaab, I am so sorry for your loss. Callie’s eyes were so beautiful. We have lost our pet too, to cancer. Her name was Pudding and she was a naughty, energetic Fox Terrier. We had to put her to rest as she went into a coma, but I will never forget the moment when the drug went in and her last staring at me.
    My prayers and love with you and your family.

  34. So sorry to hear and read about your loss. I understand,because I too have gone through similar situations-twice-,and I know how one feels.
    I share your grief.
    May God give you the strength to bear the loss and keep Callie always happy and with Him.
    -Arunkumar Deshmukh

  35. Greta I am so sorry you and Miss Callie had to go through this. What you did in rescuing her was wonderful and your life together was a tribute to how much pets can mean to us. I am glad you have your other dogs to help comfort you. Lots of love, Maura

  36. My condolences. I hope that Callie will rest in peace and that God gives you strength and patience.

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. God bless Callie.

  37. With Christmas round the corner visited your site after ages to wish you …. only to read about dear Callie. I am sure she is at peace and I am glad she had you near her during those … moments. Time and the job of getting on with everyday life slowly numbs the pain. May she rest in peace in her doggy heaven.

  38. Pets are like little children, so I can only imagine the sorrow you feel. Please accept my heartfelt condolences and sympathy for your loss.

  39. I m ur silent reader from india.n al i cn say is tht to fl so deeply fr a pet..u nd 2 hv a good hrt n u hv tht.its so beautifully Written.i Cn Understnd I Had a Lil Bird n I Stl Miss Her.

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