The Harrells: Humans, Hounds, Horses

Cayli (Chocolate Labrador)

April 22, 1993 - March 23, 2007

cayli photo I wanted to write a memorial to our sweet and loyal girl to help with our grieving and so we wouldn't forget the special things that Cayli did which made her such an important part of our lives for almost 14 years.

Cayli joined our family in an unusual way: her full-sister Terra had kidney disease and we were looking for the 1 in 4 chance of a kidney transplant from a sibling. Terra's breeder had kept "Truffle" from another litter to train as a hunting dog, and let us keep her for a day to test for a match. They weren't a blood match, but during the time she had visited with us, Troy, Terra and I all had fallen in love with the 3½ month old chocolate puppy who we decided to adopt and name Cayli. Cayli joined our family on 7/30/93 and became Terra's shadow following her everywhere for the next 6 months. She was an "old soul" and seemed to understand that Terra was sick so played gently with her. Cayli adored her sister and they would curl up together with Cayli-the-caretaker even grooming/licking Terra the night before Terra died. Cayli missed her buddy and went frantic looking for Terra when she heard Terra on a video we played of our pups ;(

Cayli was always very sensitive and eager to please. She was easy to housetrain and didn't do any naughty puppy pranks since just a slightly cross look at her was harsh punishment for a dog that just wanted to make us happy (which she did very much so for almost 14 years!). Cayli was a bit cautious and reserved so hesitated with water at first until her Dad got in Lake San Antonio and she swam right over to him - and then kept swimming the rest of her life. Like most Labs, Cayli loved to retrieve and would fetch for as long as possible. In her early years, she would jump high to catch anything, and would even "point" in anticipation of the throw (her hunting lines had bred in the "pointing" for their Labs). One of her favorite toys was the pink floppy frisbee which would create a "snow taco" when fetching in the snow. Or anything in the water that combines the fun of fetching AND swimming - a Lab nirvana! Retrieving was key to Cayli her whole life and was the way she told us about her arthritis at 6 years old when she started to refuse to drop the ball after a few fetches (when we didn't understand at first, she was in pain not able to lie down). Cayli was very obedient, so we learned these refusals were her way to tell us when she'd had enough - she was a great communicator and taught us how to listen better to animals.

Cayli missed having a canine companion so we got her a yellow lab puppy 9 months after Terra died. Cayli and Linsey were best friends from the start and were together 24x7 for most of the next 12 ½ years. Some of our favorite memories are how Cayli didn't mind the antics of her silly little sister who would climb on her and chew on her ears or play tackle when Cayli was chasing the ball. Cayli and Linsey were a perfect pair together and mirror images of each other:
  • Cayli was brown with yellow eyes, while Linsey is yellow with brown eyes
  • Cayli was quiet and reserved in demeanor, while Linsey is quite expressive (quivers, dances, vocalizes)
  • Cayli preferred to stay by her people, while Linsey is a social butterfly happy to greet any and all
  • And as they aged, Cayli had bad joints/outsides with healthy insides; and Linsey has amazing joints but all sorts of internal problems

  • Cayli has been a constant presence in our lives for almost our entire marriage thus far. She was there for our move from Campbell to Los Gatos and so many holidays, celebrations, and up and downs of life. She went everywhere with us on road trips all over California and once to Oregon. Ski season was tough to not have her with us, so we bought Cayli a ski condo at Kirkwood for her first birthday (how many dogs get this type of gift?!). She loved those 5 years visiting Kirkwood and exploring the meadows and hills with us in all the seasons. Cayli's city paws would get too tender so we got her some booties that produced the funniest high-step-and-shake dance you ever saw! Cayli and Linsey's favorite vacation was the house boating trips on Lake Shasta where a girl only has to step outside to swim and fetch all day long. Cayli loved playing in the ocean waves and any other water found on our journeys, exploring the redwoods and desert, and the regular trips to grandparents in Sacramento/Folsom and southern California. When we sold our ski condo and bought 60 raw acres in Jackson to develop, our girls thought it was their own private play park - and it was! The girls loved to smell and chase the deer, turkey, and rabbits, though none of us was too happy about the one skunk that sprayed Cayli. Cayli was thrilled to have the 50x70' swimming pond added in 2002 and she swam in it year round including our last visit 3 weeks before she died (it was a poignant reminder to see her fetching toy where she had left it at the pond on our next trip up to Jackson). The barn in Jackson fascinated her especially when we brought the horses with us and we'd often find her hanging out there trying to get nose to nose with the big beasts for a closer smell.

    Cayli was our watcher and protector, though would happily greet those we said were OK. She would sit for hours in front of our big picture window in Los Gatos and let us know when anyone walked by. Cayli was our first alert with a deep bark and hackles, and Linsey would sometimes join her from the back of the house with a supporting "woof". Though she was full Labrador, her puppy hood friend, Jack, taught Cayli to howl and she'd occasionally sing a song with the passing ambulances going to the nearby hospital. Cayli was our companion on walks rarely straying far from our sides even when off leash, while Linsey bounded ahead of us to scout for adventure. When we were gone for 5 minutes or 5 days, she would wait patiently for our return then cover our chins with Cayli "kisses" (a submissive dog gesture). She had a beautiful and soft chocolate coat (especially on the slightly wavy scruff) and was happy be pet - especially if one was massaging her sore hind end. Cayli was usually the first one up at 7am and would come wake us with a happy "good morning" (much better than an alarm clock) and then lay by the bedside if we needed to snooze some more. She was a "daddy's girl" though mommy and sisters were close seconds - Cayli would rather be with her pack than anywhere else.

    Like most Labs, she loved her food and treats, and learned plenty of tricks with them including the kid favorite of "bang" (play dead), catching treats off her nose, and the double "spin around" with Linsey. She happily performed tricks to any who would watch and was dependable with kids even if they poked or pulled at her. Cayli did not like cats however! She desperately wanted to catch one - perhaps to get back at the neighborhood tomcat that constantly teased our girls from the other side of the window - and came close with some cats that foolishly came into her backyard. Cayli tolerated the occasional dress-up costume for Halloween or Christmas pictures with bows, leis, and the like. We got lucky to catch the elasticized bow before Linsey let go of it during one photo session after finding something fun on Cayli to play with.

    Cayli was always so happy, never complained, and had such a full life, so it was difficult to see the slowdown and decline from her arthritis. With the help of our supportive vet, we tried various arthritis alternatives that helped from years 6-14. The first step that we adopted was car ramps and no jumping to reduce the trauma to the joints along with regular gentle exercise and the many joint supplements (we started with glucosamine and chondroitin in various formulations to find ones that worked best for Cayli, then later formulations with MSM, hyaluronic acid, etc). Buffered aspirin (Ascriptin) helped in the early years to get over sore days, which progressed to daily Metacam/Meloxicam (the latest wonder NSAID). The arthritis pain made her anxious (especially with loud noises like thunderstorms) so we got good with the sedatives as well. We had done fairly well with managing our "A" girl's maladies (arthritis and anxiety) until Spring 2006 when her mobility then appetite significantly decreased. We tried acupuncture, and then started swim therapy twice a week, which reinvigorated Cayli and gave us another 8 quality months with her.

    Cayli was very stoic about discomforts, so it was only a slight symptom that made us suspect a bladder infection the week before she died. She stopped eating over the weekend, which sent us back to the vet again for more diagnostics. They didn't find other serious problems, so we had some hope that the recommended 2 days of IV fluids/meds might get Cayli over the infection hump, but she looked further gone each night when we picked her up. We tried to tempt her to eat with all her favorites, but she kept telling us in various ways that she had had enough. It was a sleepless and miserable week for all of us, and we decided to spend a last quiet day with her at home before the vet came to our house late Friday afternoon. We said our final goodbyes to our beloved girl a month before her 14th birthday, and Cayli's suffering ended while she lay on her favorite bed with her mommy & dad there with her as always. We took Cayli to our Jackson property where she loved to play, and laid her to rest under a big oak tree on a beautiful spring day. It was a weekend of closure, remembering, and beginning the healing process. Family, friends and co-workers were so very supportive with our loss - many who shared stories of their own special furry family members loved and lost. Our hearts are aching and we desperately miss our sweet little girl and we are trying to take comfort in remembering her very long and wonderful life with us.