When I was 21, I stripped all of my beliefs and definitions down to their barest bones.  I was a shattered reputation and a broken heart and lost somewhere between learning to trust my instincts and believing my instincts would always, only betray me.  I was a blank slate, and facing a lonely and daunting future, and so I did what all sane humans do when they are craving love and companionship – I got a dog.

I got a dog.  This is a eulogy.

I’m not sure what I believe about dogs and their souls and heaven, but I believe there is a well, or a current, of love that exists beyond what I understand. We touch it occasionally- the first moments after the birth of a child, meeting a stranger who seems so familiar, a glance across a room that speaks a thousand words in a few seconds time, the faces and voices that appear in our deepest dreams- I like to believe a good dog is something borrowed from that holy place. A bit of that perfect love given temporary limbs, that we might understand something new about what it means to love wholly, selflessly- that we may feel seen and held and cherished.

Caper was my safe place this side of heaven.  Through the most unsteady, sleepless years of my life, he anchored me to something unmovable and holy and true.  Where I was, he wanted to be, and whoever I became, he adored.  The hundreds of nights I came home defeated to an empty room, empty apartment, lost-gone on wanting things I could never have, he greeted me tail wagging, caught tears, and slept by my side.

It sounds silly, but it simply is – Cape was the way I was loved, and he helped me rebuild.

He loved who I loved.  He hated kids.  He lived for table scraps and couch snuggles.  He was the least dog-like dog I’ve ever known.  He’d raise a cynical eyebrow across the room at you one minute and be huddled up in your lap the next. He made space for a toddler who climbed and tugged and adored him, because she was mine, and so his also.  He waited in the living room every night, always, until I went in to bed.  We were always the last two souls awake in this place.  My nights feel still.

Caper died this week, his head in my hands as I whispered “You’re a good boy, buddy,” again and again and again.  On that last ride to the vet, he lifted his tired head to rest it on my arm, and we drove as we’d driven for the last decade, and I rolled down the windows and sang him made up songs.  He knew where we were going.  I knew it was time.

I’d be wrong not to tell you that I feel a bit untethered – he was the keeper of all of my secrets, and now he is gone.

So I’m sad, friends.  But here is what I believe about joy- open all the windows, and it comes in to find you. Unexpected doorstep offerings from lovely friends, sweet baby kisses, good food, long walks- joy finds its way through the cracks in the sidewalk, takes your sadness by the hand like an old lover and sits by silently, stirring up gratitude, settling your soul.  Water and fire.  The bread and the wine.

I will think of him having returned there, to that well beyond my understanding.  I will think of that love now reborn in first smiles and deep kisses and soulmates and old friends. Because all things made of love are eternal, and isn’t that everything?

Things Made of Love - Girl of Cardigan

Goodbye, old friend.

Girl of Cardigan

  • Reply Tom Serface April 8, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    I was almost done crying… them this happened. Sniff. I may never recover.

  • Reply Judy Serface April 8, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    Beautiful.

  • Reply Susan April 8, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    We had two fur kids cross the Rainbow Bridge last year, each taking a piece of my soul. I agree that they can see the best of what we become, due to their love. My first dog wasn’t even mine, but he both literally and figuratively saved my life. The next wasn’t mine either, but gave me a reason to breathe when I lost the first. Each has taught me more about love than I knew possible. From my 10 mo old puppy and me, feel the love and slobbers for your hurting heart.

    • Reply karyn April 8, 2015 at 9:15 pm

      Thank you so much for this, Susan. <3

  • Reply Laura Thurston April 8, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Tears……..

  • Reply Candy April 9, 2015 at 3:53 am

    4 years this July my sweet Spot crossed over the rainbow bridge. The hardest and saddest day, as she was my Çaper. She too had been there for me during all of the good, bad and dark times. She knew all my secrets and she always listened.
    I miss her dearly and think of her often, but every time I do I smile. I know she is running and free and she is with my sweet angels.
    There will be tears, but in time there will be peace.

    Hugs to you and to the beautiful tribute …

  • Reply Mary Mannix Meister April 9, 2015 at 5:16 am

    This was magnificent, thank you! Know that life with our pets (yes, pets!!) is truly magical and I believe part of God’s plan. Two years ago one of our favorite ever loving cats was in kidney failure, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to euthanize him…we had to board him at our wonderful Veterinarian’s office when we made a mandatory long weekend journey, so we left instructions to euthanize, just in case. As was God’s plan to spare us, Rugby went way downhill once we were four hours away and the Vet called to ask if they could euthanize. Rugby died surrounded by all the staff in the vets office, who had been caring for him routinely over the past few months. The following Tuesday we stopped at the office to pay Rugby’s bill and arrange for his ashes, and we mentioned to the staff that we were already looking at adopting two shelter cats. “Wait..come with me” said one staffer, while the others just smiled…she led us to a back room, where, in a big crate was a Mama cat and her beautiful one day old kittens. “Someone found her two days ago, brought her here, and she had the five kittens yesterday” she said. We chose our next two furbabies on the spot, and brought them home six weeks later….the Mama cat even came out to rub against our legs, like she was waiting for us…so, expect the unexpected, and be open to the next one to love…that lucky puppy will find you!

  • Reply Kelley April 9, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Beautiful. I’ve wiped away the tears and reread this over and over. Dogs can do amazing things for our souls and Caper was (and always will be) there for you. Thank you so much for this.

  • Reply Calley April 9, 2015 at 8:36 am

    This was beautiful and made me cry before the end of the first paragraph, I can’t imagine the day I lose my girl. My heart will break in a million pieces and I feel like these words will be better than any I will ever come up with. She is my heart and soul. My best friend. Thank you for putting out there the heart of a fuzzy best friend, they hold so much more than just our hearts ♡ this was an amazing read and if I could hug you or ease the pain any I would in a heartbeat. Feel his love forever, he will always be with you!

  • Reply Isla Wilson April 9, 2015 at 10:38 am

    What a beautiful eulogy. Caper is still with you in spirit and will guide you in the days and years ahead. I am really sorry for your loss.
    Isla

  • Reply Wendi April 9, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Even as I am crying, thank you.

  • Reply Karen April 16, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Karyn, I really can’t explain how much this post resonated with me. I was that girl, too, who at 21 found my canine love. His name was Simon and he was “my guy” for 9 years until he died. I wrote about losing him here: http://karenlizzie.ca/2009/12/so-sad/

    There will never be another Simon in my life, but happily, I have a Boomer. He is sweet and goofy and so good to my little girl. And, much like your sweet pup, he waits up for me nearly every night and we head up to bed together.

    I am not a spiritual person, but I do believe that love has an eternal influence. And dogs, in my humble opinion, love better than most. My grandmother, who was spiritual, had a favourite quote, and I think of it often during difficult times: “all is infinite love.”

    My heart goes out to you as you grieve this loss.

    ~ Karen

    • Reply karyn April 20, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      Karen – I’m not sure how to tell you how much this comment means to me, or how to thank you for it. So, just – thank you. <3

  • Reply Kelly April 20, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Karyn. I waited to read this post, not sure I would read it at all, as beautiful as I knew it would be. It’s been 16 years since I said goodbye to a dog I’ll never be able to truly let go of. My heart is now so full of my sweetest daughter and two dogs who helped make me into something of a grown-up. But that first girl, the one from my childhood, who shared her puppy years with my baby years, will be there with me forever. As always you found the perfect words to tell the story of heartbreak and love that never has to go away. I’m sorry for your loss. <3

    • Reply karyn April 20, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Hugs to you, lovely. These comments, and knowing that people understand, are just the most wonderfully healing thing.

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