I Learned Everything I Needed to Know From Caesar: It Was Meant To Be

We said good bye to Caesar on Friday and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  The best moment of that incredibly crappy day though came when big brother leaned down to kiss Caesar as we left him for the last time and said, “I’ll see you in heaven.”

Since then, big brother did a book that was given to us by the people who helped us say good bye.  As he was drawing pictures, trimming photographs to paste and writing his memories I heard him read that sometimes it helps to write your pet’s life story so that is my intention here for a while.  However, staying with the intent of writing these messages to you I will try to offer a few lessons taught to us by our experiences with Caesar along the way.

Caesar was meant to be our dog from the beginning.  Your mom and I used to watch a lot of Animal Planet and it just so happened that on a Saturday night in 1999 they had on a dog show and during the dog show the 13″ beagle stepped up to be judged.  We had been talking about the idea of getting a dog for so long, but decided that we needed to have a house first which we had just recently got and get through our wedding day which we had just recently done.  When we saw the 13″ beagle we had finally an idea of the type of the dog that we would want.

The next morning your mom was reading the classifieds in the paper and saw and ad for 13″ beagles.  We called that day and were told that all the dogs in the litter were already gone, but we asked if we could still come out and meet them.  Lisa, from RiverBottom Beagles, said that they would probably have another litter soon and that we were welcome to come out.

After we both got done with work on a night that week we got in the car to make the hour long trip to Litchfield.  On the way we got a phone call from Lisa.  She let us know that one of the buyers had backed out and that if we wanted we could have our pick of the males in the litter.  We knew we wanted a boy too so everything seemed to be falling into place.

When we got there she brought a green laundry basket out full of beagle puppies and she asked us which one we thought we would want.  It all seemed to be going so fast and your mom definitely is not an impulse shopper, but it just felt right.

Then I saw him, the runt of the litter getting his but kicked by his brothers and sisters as they crawled over him.  I remember it like was yesterday.  I simply said, “I want him.”

It was just meant to be and that is where the story of Caesar begins.

Caesar and his Littermates
Caesar and his Littermates

A Non-Career in Review

While I sucked at basketball and baseball, I was not a terrible football player.

Before my seventh grade year I attended the summer football camp at St Mary’s Springs. It was the first time i did anything remotely related to organized football. I was 6′ 2″ tall and weighed 300lbs. (I am the exact same height and weight today.)

I was also relatively fast and agile given my size, but growing up in Eden there wasn’t a football team for me to play on.

One of the coaches from the camp just happened to be the coach for Saint Mary’s grade school in Fond du Lac and my mom’s next door neighbor. Somehow I ended up on his team even though I didn’t go to school there.

The team went undefeated both years I played there. In fact I never started a game one of my teams lost ever.

Now there were losses I was part of, but my team my junior and senior year of high school team went undefeated as well.

I dreamed from the first time I put on a helmet that I would play pro ball and even when I knew the NFL was out of the question I still felt I could find a professional level I could succeed in.

That all changed though in one game in Two Rivers Wisconsin in my junior year.

Right before that season I was in the best shape of my life. I broke the 4.8 second 40 yard dash mark, benched a max 520 pounds and squatted a max of just under 1200 pounds. I also could do a seven mile run once a week just for the hell of it, but the coolest thing I could do was slam dunk a basketball.

At the game in Two Rivers I tore my ACL, MCL, LCL and a bit of meniscus to boot in my left knee. I was never able to dunk a basketball again and spent the next two years in and out of surgeries and on a mix of painkillers of various strengths and types.

I eventually did get a football scholarship to St Cloud State in Minnesota and even got a visit in my home from the Wisconsin Badgers head coach, Barry Alvarez, during the recruiting process.

It was cool to be recruited and cool to get the scholarship, but three days into practice before we even had pads on someone rolled my knee and I never wore pads as a college player with the exception of picture day.

It wasn’t easy for me to decide to quit playing football. In the letter giving up my scholarship; I summed it up as I didn’t feel I was quitting football, but accepting a new path and challenge in life.

I had no idea what I was going to do in reality, but it sounded good on paper.

I eventually ended up where I’m at today, but I definitely did not take the shortest distance between two points. I actually ended up taking several paths and accepting numerous challenges.

Life does not come with a roadmap, so you do need to be willing to navigate a bit in the dark when detours come up. It gets easier though because every experience you have and person you meet will help light the paths a bit more.

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