We got Caleb from my dad’s receptionist because he was a terribly behaved dog. She’d gotten a purebred Golden with the intention of having a fierce accessory, and named him Kentucky Caleb. Even after he lived down that personal shame, he still couldn’t please her. She said he’d gone through obedience school twice and just wouldn’t mind. He wouldn’t sit on the bathmat and warm it while she took a shower. Clearly a miscreant cur.
Caleb was the best behaved animal or human who ever lived with our family. Gorgeous and sleek , his fur flapped in the wind like Pamela Anderson’s did in the 90’s. He was slender and mild mannered. He was instantly a member of the family.
But like many of us, with age Caleb put on a little weight. He went a little white around the muzzle. Then he started getting cysts. The first one was behind his ear, so he just had to wear a cone for a little while. Then he got one in his tail.
Going from looking like the bikini model of Golden Retrievers to being a chubby puppy with half a tail is a character building experience. Even though some people made cruel jokes about how his tail looked like male genitalia as the fur was growing back, he never wagged it with any less enthusiasm. He never let the shame of his half tail keep him from being the sweetest dog.