Through membership of
the Sheltielist, I was introduced to the writings of Melissa who lives in
Manitoba, Canada. These short stories were inspired by her love for her
Shetland Sheepdog "Callie" and I was so moved by them I felt it would
be nice if they could be enjoyed by other Sheltie enthusiasts. With the kind
permission of Melissa, who agreed to let me share them with you all, I have
reproduced some of these stories and hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
tragedy in my life has made me look and listen to things a bit
different. Callie loves to bark, she barks at everything that
moves. People coming in and leaving the house, coyotes singing in
the swamp, cars driving by and cars going back. It used to annoy me,
but the other day instead of trying to make her be quiet, I took the time
to really listen to her, I mean listen with my heart, not my ears.
You know what I heard? Not a noisy little Sheltie, but a beautiful
voice and a lovely song. It stunned me, this revelation. She
was singing to me, telling me that life had entered our home (in the form
of my brother-in-law). I realised that she sang at life.
Whatever moved was life and she was telling me "LOOK, LOOK, something
living has entered our world." Why hadn't I heard this before?
So I really began to pay attention when she barked, or as I call it now,
SANG. Yep, sure enough her singing was letting me know that some
life had pulled into our driveway, a life she knew. She sang to the
coyotes, and she sang to the horse and donkey, she sang and sings to all
life that comes into her domain. Callie does not yap or bark, she
sings and my heart finally and for once can hear it for what it really is,
"A Sheltie Song." To those of you who can let your babies
bark, listen to them with your heart and not your ears, you may be
surprised at what you really hear.
A Sheltie Key
In a moment in time, in the blink of
an eye, I lost my best and dearest friend. My life was irrevocably
changed, never to be the same again. Outwardly I continued to
function as normal, there were still bills to pay, a job to do and a ranch
to help run. Emotionally I closed the door and promptly locked
it. I did not have the key, nobody did EXCEPT one small tri-coloured
Sheltie. Who gave her the key? I don't know but she had it,
and still does. In the universal language of love she slowly helped
unlock the door. She never told me "life goes on", she
never said "snap out of it", she just quietly sat with me,
followed me everywhere I went. She slept at my feet, licked the
tears away and showed me in ways too numerous to mention that time does
not heal all wounds, but time makes the coping easier. Whomever gave
this beautiful little Sheltie the key, knew what they were doing.
She helped to keep the door from being locked all the time. And
while I still grieve and still long to just see my friend's smile again,
just once, I have learned with the help of my Sheltie Angel to open the
door now and again. There are still times when it is shut and locked, but
I silently ask Callie for the key and she quietly and graciously gives it
Well it is time to shovel out, we
had anywhere from 12 to 16 inches of snow yesterday and overnight.
The wind has now picked up and that can only mean DRIFTING SNOW!!! which
is just as bad or worse than FALLING SNOW. I often wonder and
ask myself on days like this what the heck I am doing here instead of
being in Portland Oregon (where I am from). The snow was blowing in
my face and shovelling was getting harder. The temps have dipped
down to -15 Celsius and there is a wind chill on top of that. I
finally finished my job of delivering rural mail and was stressed out,
needless to say. I let the dogs out and started to clean up the snow
around the house, on the deck and the walk ways. God I could think
of a thousand places I'd rather be and a million things I'd rather be
doing. The dogs were running around and in the way. I stopped
my work for a minute to watch them. Callie was having the time of
her life, although in places the snow was almost to her shoulders.
"Silly dogs" I thought until I looked into their faces.
Callie's face and eyes held a look of magic. It was as if she was
saying "Oh come on mom, this is fun, look!!! Put down that
stupid metal thing and play". "No time", I told her,
but I watched her play. It was magic, pure and simple, pure and
innocent. Not a care in the world. She romped and played, she
rolled in the snow. Snow was not an inconvenience for her, it was a
special thing sent from the heavens, just for the pleasure of her.
"MAGICAL" was all I could think, "MAGICAL".
Sometimes I wish the magic could
come back to me, like when I was a child, but to me now, SNOW is
SNOW. I'd like to say that after watching my beautiful little
Sheltie play with her pal that the magic did come to me, that I stopped
looking at this snow as a chore and started thinking of it as a toy given
to me by someone special. NOT. I finished shovelling, I came
in the house and I did the other things that needed to be done. But
as I sit here now, I guess I feel some of Callie's magic, and I smile at
how much fun two dogs had riding on a snow shovel. Once again this
beautiful little creature I have been blessed with has made me smile, has
made me see that things are not as bad as I make them out to be. So
to all of you I wish some Sheltie Magic in your lives.
What My Sheltie
A little thought came into my head
today at work. I have taught my sheltie to sit, stay, come, heel.
I have taught her to stay in her yard, to not chase cars, to not bother
the big cows. I have taught her that her home is safe and warm and full
of love. All very good things, all important. But the
thought that popped into my head was 'what has my Sheltie taught
me?'. I looked into the deepest recesses of my soul and it did not
take me long to find the answer. She has taught me that the
darkest days do not last forever, she has taught me to look beyond
myself and see the world as a whole, to always try and find the
bright morning of life no matter how dark the night is. She
has taught me to love myself as much as I possibly can. She has
given me hope when none could be found. She has taught me to laugh at
myself and the silly things in life, to accept what cannot be
changed. She has taught me that I may be cold and tired but there
is always something neat around the corner. She has taught
me what unconditional love truly is, to look deep into the soul and not
pay so much attention to the outside of something. All these
things my little sheltie has taught me. WOW so many things
that will never be taught to some human beings who do not have the love
of a dog. I must thank this little creature for showing me
and teaching me things that few to no human being could
teach. A lifetime of wisdom and love in four short
years. And that is what MY SHELTIE TAUGHT ME.
What I Love Most
About My Sheltie
When I got home from work today, I
was really tired. I did not sleep well the night before and dealing
with icy roads this morning just made me exhausted. I wanted to curl
up on the couch and just sleep. I took my shoes off at the door,
poured myself a glass of orange juice and was on my way to the sofa, when
standing in front of me I noticed a little Sheltie holding one of her
Christmas toys. "Oh not now Callie, mommy is tired".
She didn't care and she let me know by not moving an inch, just standing
there with that silly blue octopus hanging out of her mouth. So I
plunked my tired body down on the kitchen floor and we began to play
"fetch the octopus". As I watched her play I started to
think, what do I like best about my Sheltie? Well, I love her little
pricked ears, they make her face look so mischievous. Then there is
her gait, it is not a trot, but a pace (not standard I know, but nothing
about my Callie is standard) and it makes me laugh. Her coat is so
shiny and soft and silky (also not standard). I love her coat.
Then there is her funny little feet that if you do not trim the hair on
them regularly they look like little white slippers. But that is not
what I love best about her. I love her face, her muzzle, dainty, it
is not foxy but fine. Her face is truly a beauty to behold.
But the thing I love best about my sheltie are her eyes, her beautiful,
glorious eyes. So dark they are almost black and they gleam and
sparkle with a zest for life that we should all be lucky to have.
Her eyes are soft and you can lose yourself in the depths of them.
Yep, her eyes are the thing I love best. If every politician, every
army general, every human being whoever wanted war could gaze deep into
those eyes, there would forever be world peace.
It is a cold night here
in Manitoba, and it was a grey day. Winter is at our back door,
all the geese are moving South, huge flocks of them. We lit a fire
in our wood stove tonight and the soft glow of flames danced off the
floor. Under my computer lies a little black, white and tan
dog. She is small and she is warm and comfortable. When I
look at her I wonder if she knows how important she is in my life.
I often wonder if she really knew what she means to me and how much I
need her in my life, would she be able to handle that kind of
responsibility? To have a human being's heart so completely and
totally. I would walk to the end of the earth for this little dog,
I would beg, borrow, even steal to keep her here next to me. Such
a big burden on such a small dog. Sometimes it makes me feel
guilty knowing that I have placed this on her little dog soul, but I
just can't help myself. Warm fire, warm house, love and a
beautiful Sheltie dog at my feet and in my heart, what more could any
sane human want? Except maybe 2 or 3 more beautiful Sheltie dogs
at their feet.
I have cried a river, a
lake an ocean of tears in the last 8 months. I have cried for the
sudden loss of my best friend Sue, I have cried for all the lost,
abused and abandoned Shelties (and all dogs) in this world. I have
cried for my father-in-law who is dying from cancer and I have cried for
myself. I have no more tears left to cry, at least that is what I
I came home today from
the hospital after visiting my father in law. All I wanted to do
was sit in the sun and the wind and let all the smells and sounds of a
hospital wash off of me. I sat in my chair on the deck and, of
course, Callie sat with me. She wanted so much for me to play with
her, but I just could not find the energy. "Not now
sweetie" was all I could muster up as a reply to her. So we
sat together in the sun, I drifted away to better places and better
times, a place I call my "happy place". It was not
working, even the happy place wasn't "happy". I
sighed, "No more tears to cry". Suddenly I
felt the cool wet nose of my friend Callie. I opened my eyes
and looked deep into hers. Was it my imagination or was she
telling me "If you cannot cry anymore, that's ok, I will cry a
million Sheltie tears for you." I'm sure, even now,
hours after the experience, that that is what her expression said.
"I will cry a million Sheltie tears for you". I
love this beautiful little creature, who always knows the right time to
come to me with an open heart, a kind and loving expression, no more
perfect being is my little Sheltie. Any creature that would cry a
million tears for you is a special being! Well I
cried. I thought I could not cry anymore, but I did, although this
time the tears were not in sorrow but in joy, in joy and love for the
little dog at my side. Thank you to the powers that be for the
love of a Sheltie.
And so it has started.
Calving season in the frozen North. Two days ago the first new
life of the season, and on our farm, came into this world.
The phone rang on a cold March evening, it was
my brother-in-law. "Come help me get a calf into the shed and
under the light before the poor little thing freezes to
death." So I got up off my warm couch, took my fluffy
slippers off and put on five layers of clothes. This night was at minus
20. "God what a night to come into the world." I
cursed that calf as I grabbed my keys and prepared to go out the
door. "Well come on Callie, I'm not going to be the only one
out on a night like this." She jumped for joy, oh boy!!! her
face read like an open book. "It's an adventure!" I wish
I could always look at things the way Callie did. When we went out
the door the bitter wind hit me square in the face. God I just
wanted to go back into my warm house, but such is not the way here at
We drove into the yard, I slowly got out
of the Jeep, Callie leaped out racing around and barking "An
adventure, an adventure!!!!! oh boy an adventure." I hung my
head to protect my face against the freezing wind and made my way down
to the corral, with Callie right on my heels. And there in the
straw, on this bitter, bitter night, lay a bundle of shivering, wet
LIFE. I stopped cursing him, I stopped feeling sorry for myself at
being out on this night while all my friends were snug in their homes,
and I helped get this little fellow up to a warm shed and under a heat
light. We fed him so his tummy would be full and warm, we bedded
down the cow, gave her hay and told her what a fine mommy she was.
The whole time Callie just stood and watched, she never said a word, she
never strayed far from me or this brand new life. She looked
worried, she seemed to be on guard making sure we did the things needed
to keep this little fellow alive.
And when we were done and all was right, I
stood there and stared at that calf, the one who got me out of my nice
warm house, the one that made me miss my favourite show. My ears were
cold, my feet were cold and my nose was running. I could go
home now but I just stood there with Callie in the freezing cold,
in the back of that shed and I looked at that wet bundle in the way
Callie was looking at him. WOW, a brand new life!!! in this frozen
waste land! Why is it that Callie always seems to know how to look
at things? She just understood that what was happening was NEW and
EXCITING and WONDROUS. She did not think of the cold, her mind was
not on her favourite program, she once again saw life and joy where I
could not. "Welcome to the world little one." I
turned to Callie and thanked her again from the bottom of my heart, for
making me see the little joys of life. I sighed and called her to come
and spoke the words that have been spoken on this farm every calving
season for two decades "One down and 129 to go."