American Black and Tan Coonhound,
Caleb Caylor-Brown (April 13, 2003-November 9, 2011)
Caleb was born at Mamaw’s house under
my bed on April 13, 2003 on a Sunday night. I have raised many puppies in my
lifetime and most of the ones I have kept as my own I have “willed” them or
conditioned them to be mine and for me to be their master. However, I observed very quickly that Caleb chose me to be his master. When Caleb and his siblings Sissy and Ferd were approximately 3 months old and we would come in from hunting in the woods,
Sissy and Ferd would cuddle up together on their dog pillow, but Caleb would
fall asleep on my hunting boots. One evening last week, Caleb spent about 30
minutes jogging around our field with Sean and me. Every 5 minutes or so, I
would bend down to pet his head or to touch noses with him as he and I trotted
together in sync. With each pet or nuzzle he would wag his tail and keep on
trotting with me. I had no idea we just had another week together.
(Caleb is on the left with Carter)
The following things may sound contrived or “make believe”, but the first thing to
share was that two mornings ago when I turned out the dogs to enjoy their day on the
mountain, I called each dog to me, kissed them, and prayed that they would make
it back to the house safely. In 5 minutes, they were all up on the mountain
bawling after what I thought to be deer. That was 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
Caleb did not make it back home until 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning. He looked
perfectly normal except for a swollen belly, and I thought he had come home
exhausted and drunk a bunch of water. I patted his head and we nuzzled nose to
nose. I said, “You rest, and I will be back later.” When I returned at 10:00
a.m., he was dead. He did, indeed, make it home to me, and I am so grateful to
God that he did.
(Caleb on July 18, 2011)
He was buried quite quickly with a back-hole digger and just in time, because it
started raining just minutes after the grave was packed down. One of our vets said Caleb died with a Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). It was basically a gas bubble that twisted his stomach and eventually blocked blood flow to the brain, then unconsciousness, then death. Very few dogs even live through surgeries that try to correct the GDVs. I was also thankful that his death was “natural causes”.
Wednesday evening around 7:30 I went out to throw some scraps out to the wildlife of our woods, and I stopped by to see Caleb. I had no sooner stepped to the side of the interment when the rain clouds rolled back like some scroll, and the full moon with Jupiter beside it
showed brightly down and illuminated Caleb’s final resting place. I thanked God for 8 years with my Caleb, and over the mountain I heard the echo of someone’s shot gun. It was, undoubtedly, a coon hunter out for the evening. It was very apropos for Caleb and for me.