Early the next morning, around 2, we were awakened by Kali’s low-pitched “woof woof” outside our bedroom window—she had come back! Later that morning, I found a letter tucked under the windshield wiper of our car. At first I was afraid to read it, anticipating that he would once again be staking his claim to Kali. But the five-page-long note, written on fine linen stationery in a sure and clear script, didn’t appear to be threatening. In it, the letter-writer told me about Kali’s life—his wife had adopted her from a shelter in Davis—and how times were hard for them; how difficult it was to be an unemployed Vietnam veteran; how they often didn’t have money for food for themselves and their dog, but they had never once abused or harmed Kali; how they trusted her to watch over their babies; how gentle and wise a dog she was; and how much he loved her. But because he loved her, he was giving her to us. He ended his letter with, “Take care of my dog and kiss my big brown girl for me.”
I have never been given a more generous gift. What it must have taken for him to part with her is something that I can only imagine. Dogs give so much to us. This charitable act, coming from a man who had so little and had lost so much, shows that they can also inspire a humane and noble spirit.
Fast-forward to the present: Callie is doing great, pushing 15 but slowing down only a little. We changed her name to Callie and have kept the letter, or “Callie’s papers” as we call it, as a reminder that we were entrusted with the care of a very beloved dog. Every night we do as we were charged and kiss his big brown girl for him.
This article first appeared in The Bark,