|The labbie with a floatie--his back legs don't work so well anymore|
Today my crazy chocolatey wonderful love-of-my-life canine turns fourteen. His name is Caju, or officially Cajoo Kingdon of Chocolate. Yes, spelled exactly like that because his amateur breeder didn't know how to spell "Kingdom" nor understand the gringa wanting to name her dog for the cashew nut. You cay "KAH-jooo" or "Joo-Joo" or anything in between. He was born on March 3, 2000 in São Paulo. He has lived here, in Miami and moved back with us in 2008.
I have written a book about Caju. It's 30,000 words long and will probably never be published. I simply had to get down his story. It is subtitled "Duro de Matar" or "Hard to Kill" which is the nickname his oncologist gave him after his third mastocitoma surgery.
You see, Caju was never supposed to be fourteen. As a puppy, a saliva gland was blocked and exploded leaving a huge hole and scar in his neck. During recuperation he ran through a barbed wire fence. He kept running and bleeding after the ball.
At age 1, he was diagnosed with epilepsy, and we had him neutered shortly thereafter to make sure it was not passed on. At two, he was found to have terrible bone spurs and fragments in his elbow--the vet in Miami assured me that Caju would probably not be able to walk at age 5. At three, the same vet found a mastocitoma that I thought was a mosquito bite. And from there he got pancreatitis, was poisoned by someone while in our backyard in Miami and survived three bouts of canine tick disease--he nearly lost his life in the first bout--only four blood transfusions, including one from his older brother saved him.
Two more mastocitomas, various bug issues, terrible arthritis, he's really done all of it. He was never supposed to be here at fourteen.
But he's here. He's white in the face and on his chest and in between the toes of his paws. He is chubby, limping and often barks just because he's old. His body is failing him now--a dog who my brother set out to tire out from playing ball one day spent the next three hours playing catch and retrieve. My brother tired first. Caju's eyes are slowly dulling from cataracts though his hearing remains good--he can hear food hitting the ground in the kitchen from any room in the house.
He sleeps upside down. I call it doga. It doesn't look comfortable but it is. He snores. He wants nothing more than to be with you, preferably on top of you. He hates a lightning storm. He loves water and swimming. He loves barbecue. He loves me. He loves attention of any kind including kids launching themselves onto his neck. He licks. He has bad breath. He's never met a person he doesn't like. He is the perfect dog. He is a one and only.
Happy birthday, Caju, my little Brazil nut!