Monday, March 3, 2014

Fourteen - Joanópolis

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!


  1. Please publish your book about sweet Caju. <3

    1. :) Maybe as a fundraiser! Only a true doglover would be able to take all the dog blather!

  2. Ah... you bring tears to my eyes. Thank you ever so much for sharing Caju's story! Sorting through papers a few days ago, i found that i'd printed out what you had written/posted on Caju's 13th birthday -- about not worrying about what we (and our dogs) can't do anymore, but instead focusing on what we (and our dogs) CAN DO. What a great lesson & reminder this is for me, as 2 of my Labradorables also just turned 14, and as i convince my aging parents that they still have so much going for them. THANK YOU. PLEASE publish your book!!!! ~ Jackie

  3. I think you should publish the book too. I sit here crying. I have never known Caju's full story. He is a beautiful dog, still full of life. I had two Dachshund's that lived to be 17 1/2 and 17 years old. I loved every moment of there lives with me!
    Sherry Bradford

  4. What a loving tribute to your sweet Brazil Nut! I'm so glad I found your blog and I am looking forward to getting to know you both better. I, too, would love for you to publish your book; there are an abundance of critter-lovers out here who I know would be thrilled to read of Caju's journey. Thank you for sharing your dog and your story. Give Caju a love and hug from a new friend in Oregon. ~Susan

  5. Makes me think of my baby Kozmo. He lived 14.5 wonderful years. He too aged so much and lost some of that zest for life. He never gave up and we loved him more than anything. May Caju have a wonderful birthday and live the rest of his days happy and peaceful. Xoxo

  6. I love seeing Caju and Haifa's adventures here and on Facebook. He truly is a warrior dog, and I am glad to be his friend (along with my felines, Roxie B, Miss Tiger and Friends and Baby Jude)

  7. I truly hope that one day we will all be able to read Caju's biography. I am sure there a many who would enjoy it. Happy Birthday Caju. Here's to you, my friend.

  8. Oh my friend Caju The Warrior Dog we have know each other for several years now. You Have Made me laugh held me as I cried at the death of my Darling Gretel ,and most recently my cat Nuno .My Friend I Think of no better thing to say than Mom Publish that book Happy Birthday My Caju The Warrior Dog

    We love Mom And Haifa Too and The Twinkies and Dad !!!!!! But Mrs P needs the whole Story
    Love You

  9. I am crying as I read this. I look for his and Haifas post everyday and when I dont see one I often inbox you. He has made me laugh and cry and I wish him the best year ever. Please publish the book...I would love to read his journey. Love you Caju you make me smile.