I don't have any pictures of Carly and that is a real shame. But I did manage to rip a picture of our old house off of Google Street View and just looking at it the memories are flooding back. Carly was the first pet I remember. My parents have told me about how Casey bit me in the face and of how Candy loved to escape an go on adventures but I don't remember them. I remember Carly. Carly was the quintessential dog in the boy and his dog story. He was part border collie, German Shepard, Lab, and maybe even a few other things and the main attribute he inherited from each was intelligence. What I remember most about Carly was when my mother would call me and I wouldn't come Carly would come get me. It was like having an extra parent. He would grab me by the forearm and bring me to my mother. Later when we got our dachshund, Allie, we'd tell Carly to go get Allie when she wasn't coming in and off he'd go and bring her back.
What does Carly have to do with us now offering in home pet care services and working as pet sitters and dog walkers in Virginia Beach? It's because I learned a lot about love from Carly. The tree in the above picture isn't the one that was in that front yard when we lived in the house. We had a birch tree, and I remember being fascinated by its white bark. I would spend hours outside as a kid and most of the time Carly was right beside me. We dug holes together in the back yard. Digging holes was one of my favorite activities. I had those little toy construction vehicles and I'd put them to work excavating the back yard. Carly was a dog and he also enjoyed digging holes. He also enjoyed other dog activities like chasing squirrels, but unlike other dogs he was successful. I don't know if to this day I've ever seen another dog successfully run down a squirrel but Carly would. The things about Carly was he'd always come when you called. You could see the intelligence in his eyes and he put all of his intellect to work in caring for his family.
Carly loved hugs. Not to get hugs or to roll over for belly rubs or any of that. Carly wanted to hug you. Whenever I was laying on the floor, which for some reason was the cool way to watch TV when I was seven, Carly would come up and lay next to me and drape one paw over my shoulder. Having a first dog like Carly it's no wonder I wanted to spend my life working with dogs and became a pet sitter and dog walker. Carly was the perfect machine of intelligence and love.
The last thing I really remember about Carly is he loved car rides but he loved to be home. As I was young when we had Carly I had to ride in the backseat and Carly would start pacing and walking on top of me whenever we were anywhere close to home. He loved the trips we'd take home on up to the Chesapeake Bay but when it was time to go home that is where he wanted to be.
What I learned from Carly goes beyond love, loyalty, and affection. It is the sad reality that we are dragons. What I mean by that is we're the ones that remain. Think of the line from the Peter, Paul, and Mary song Puff the Magic Dragon, "Dragon's live forever, but not so little boys." To a dog our lifespans are forever. They come into our lives as puppies and we remain long after they are gone. We're left with an ache in our heart and tears that fall like rain. Even now thinking about Carly and Allie, and Ollie, and Roxie, and Dory and all the client dogs and cats we've lost as pet sitters and dog walkers through the years (I can name them too if you'd like) I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes. When a pet passes it is like a part of us is removed and we can never be whole again.
I am currently sitting ten feet from where Carly taught me it was time to move on. Carly did not grow old gracefully and I imagine his high intellect had something to do with it. Carly went senile and got angry and aggressive. Before this was Lara and my house it was my parent's beach house and one weekend we were down here and I had to get something from my dresser. Carly was laying in front of it and when I approached he just started growling. It was the low, deep, angry growl that means stay away, I don't know who you are. I told Carly it was me but that didn't work and so I left the room. A few minutes later I came back in and Carly was his old self, tag wagging and happy to see me, but just a few minutes before he'd forgotten who I was. That was the day I knew it was time to say goodbye.
Carly was full of life and love and energy until he wasn't and then he was an old dog that had lost a part of himself. That day in my bedroom at the beach he was telling me it was ok to let go. He was already gone and I'd find other dogs to love and he would live on in my memories. Carly is why I love and understand dogs. He taught me as much as any parent or teacher when I was growing up and he is still with me in everything I do. Carly would be happy I chose pet sitting and dog walking as a profession. I did enjoy digging holes with him more than playing with any of my human friends.