Cali’s Final Gift

Cali sits on grass holding a green disc toyCali left us on Dec. 10. I still can’t say that (or type it apparently) without crying.

I certainly wasn’t ready to write about it for last week’s blog post, and the cheerful post I had written about life with three golden girls had to be shelved.

She held on through her 10th birthday week, which was filled with ice cream, dog treats, long walks, dinner with friends, and a day out with two of her beloved aunties.

And she gave a final gift to goldens of the future.

As part of the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, the families of deceased heroes can make a final gift: A necropsy that allows the study’s researchers to add to their understanding of canine cancer.

Cali and her beloved brother Pirate died within a day of each other; another dear brother, Sailor — Orly’s dad — died in early summer. All three had internal bleeding, likely from hemangiosarcoma ruptures. I don’t have the lab report yet on Cali, but the wonderful emergency vet who took care of us was pretty sure that hers was from the liver. Both boys also had masses on their livers. Hemangiosarcoma is relentless and so, so common with golden retrievers.

The house feels empty without Cali, even though Spirit (our guest dog) and Orly are constantly tumbling around, wrestling, tugging on each other, chewing toys, and generally being the exuberant young dogs they are. (I especially miss having another adult in the  house!) Her optimism and joy were unique.

When I wake up, I look for Cali’s wagging tail and enthusiasm as she greets the morning with a happy dance holding a favorite toy. Then I remember. I wake Orly, shove her off the bed, hug Spirit, and start the day … without my beloved friend. I miss her company as I work in my upstairs office, and have avoided walking her favorite route.

I spent much of the week calling, emailing, and texting some of her many friends with the sad news. She wanted to meet — and befriend — every person on the planet. In her 10 short years, she made significant progress toward that goal, and I clearly couldn’t notify everyone she has touched. We’ll all miss that sweet Cali girl …

Happy holidays from the Thinking Dog Blog! We’ll be taking some time off, but we’ll see you again sometime in the new year.

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11 thoughts on “Cali’s Final Gift

  1. Too many losses among my Bergin friends this past few weeks! I can only remember Cali as that sweetest of golden puppies. It’s hard to believe her brief light has gone out already. My heart hurts for you and your family.


  2. Cali was a bright spot in all our lives, even if it was just to read about her adventures and progress through life. My heartfelt condolences,


  3. I am so sorry to read of Cali’s passing. My heart breaks for you as I can feel your loss. As I read your blog, my guide dog, Iris, came running over to me, looking at me to check in, knowing that my mood had suddenly changed. I know that your world will be changed forever. I hope you will soon be able to focus on all the good memories you had of Cali.


  4. We’ve been so sad since we heard about Cali and Pirate… And Orly’s dad Sailor this summer.
    What a beautiful gift from Cali… And a brilliant way to remember her.
    Take care…
    Anna and Ranger 🐾❤️


  5. I am so. so sorry to read of Cali’s passing. For some reason, it still seemed like a far-off event though your posts were clearly indicating that the end was coming. It sounds like her final week was quite lovely!


  6. Having lost my souldog, Texi, a mini golden mini-doodle, to hemangiosarcoma, I feel the pain you are experiencing, so well. My heart goes out to you, and I know you will come to celebrate all the joys she brought to your life. I will miss Texi until the day I die, but she was such a blessing, as Cali was to you!


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