I thought my last podcast was pretty terrible. The songs were all great, impeccably so. The weakness lie in me.
The podcast is available on the podcast page (see the menu up top there.) but only because of my compulsiveness. It’s not good although I like the self deprecating cover art.
My big Blue dog passed over. Whenever I worked on a podcast he’d nudge me in the shoulder from behind while I faced the computer screen.
That’s my other excuse for the huge delay here. But it’s his memory and two, yes two requests for more music that generate this latest missive.
This is the annual welcome to summer podcast. It is okay. I somehow lost the list of songs and performers . . . so take it as it is!
If I don’t feel too abysmal (unlikely) the next podcast will be dedicated to Gene And Eddie! Impossible to mess that one up.
Podcast.net seems to have gone belly up. A shame really. Leaves only iTunes.
Back then, back in the 80’s the cardboard cities began springing up. Horrifying edifices to an outsider but homes to the working poor. Refrigerator boxes taped to washing machine and TV boxes, making little complexes to house the working parents and the children who were always dressed to go off to school.
The funny result was that the really homeless began keeping dogs. Guard dogs for the heaped up recyclables on their shopping carts and guard dogs for when they slept at night.
Soon it seemed every homeless person had a dog. They were strays only alike in that they were all hungry and underfed.
In LA the issue was noticed. People shook their heads and made tsk tsk noises with their teeth clenched and then kept driving.
In London (The UK one) the Blue Cross (an animal charity, not a GNP gobbling insurance company) opened up clinics around Victoria and other hot spots so that the homeless could bring their dogs in for injections and health inspections. When it seemed that only the really insane were still out there the Blue Cross sent out rescue workers to walk the Strand at midnight to plow through the underpasses and look out for dogs in need of free health care.
My crew started out as 3 people, a tiny little vet student from Acton. She was about 4′ 11″, gold blonde hair she wore in messy ringlets, a round face set off by large studious glasses. I called her Little Doc because I can never remember anyone’s name.
Her over protective boyfriend wasn’t officially part of our crew. He might have made 5′ with boots on. He was friendly enough, but out of his element with us. I could understand him wanting protect Little Doc. She was special enough and probably more than he thought he’d ever deserve.
I guess I was the “muscle”. After a few weeks the boyfriend got bored, or frightened. I don’t know which really, Little Doc told me I wasn’t just protection. I was the only volunteer who wasn’t afraid of the various dogs, and the only one the dogs weren’t afraid of either. Maybe.
Even after she told me that I found it hard to work up the concern to think about it. All I knew was that once a week from midnight until 7 AM we’d start with the Strand. We’d start at the food truck that passed out expired Marks & Sparks sandwiches (the shrimp ones were pretty good)and wend our way through London’s underworld. I’d talk to the dog owners while Little Doc gave them shots and certificates.
Most of the people didn’t trust us, even though we had plastic laminated badges and all that. The vast majority were still anxious to get their dogs looked after. They questioned Little Doc’s qualifications more than anything. I noticed that some of the people had bags of high quality dog food in their squats.
We had not trouble or incidents other than some who were fearful we were there to take their little dogs away.
It wasn’t an adventure; it was work. Some nights there were some adventuresome things that happened but all events just turned into work. But work with dogs hardly seems like work at all most times.
There was a reason I’d gotten involved in all this trekking through the hidden life in London. Back in LA in the 80’s I was working at Zoetrope (nee’ Hollywood General, nee’ Desilu Studios and who knows what in between) I was planning to go down to SIR. Someone told me they were selling off some of their rentals.
I was walking by Gower Gulch. Across the street, under a smog choked tree, there was a homeless guy. When I got closer I saw he had a coiled up rope in his hand and was whipping a dog. I went over and grabbed the guys arm. I wasn’t very gentle. I looked at the dog. He was shaking and cowering, covering his head with his paws. He was about 50 pounds and as ugly a gray dog as you could imagine. He had a bad under bite that gave his face a punched in humanoid look. I didn’t notice at the time but he was thin but not terribly under-fed.
I looked at the guy I was holding. He was squirming but, back then, I was a lot stronger than he was. He was ashen gray under that peculiar plastic sunburn living in the LA sun non-stop can bring. His face and forehead were covered in old peeling scabs. He was dirty.
I told him to knock it off. He told me to f… off surfer boy. I thought that was a weird insult but an insult is an insult so I hoisted him off the ground by his throat and was ready to punch him out when something miraculous happened.
The ugly little dog I was protecting attacked me. He didn’t draw blood but the khakis I was wearing were pretty torn up. He didn’t care about my motives, he didn’t care that I was trying to save him from pain, this sad, ugly beaten wonderful dog only knew I was hurting the only thing that was precious to him.
So this podcast is for all the wonderful dogs I’ve known. I think there’s too much country western in it but they’re good tracks.
Where Has My Little Dog Gone Hoosier Hot Shots
Plenty Of Dogs Lolas
I’m Walking The Dog Del McCoury Band
The Puppy Song Nilsson
Wild Dogs Of Kentucky Nervous Norvus
Barking Up The Wrong Tree Heartbeats
Little Woman Big Dog Frankie & The Pool Boys
Old King Neil Young
Get Down Marykate O’Neil
Hunger Strike Temple of The Dog
Every Dog Robin Zander
Spanish Flea Herb Alpert
Dad Gave My Dog Away T. Texas Tyler
Doggone Fine Roy Loney
Gonna Buy Me A Dog Boise And Moss With A Side Of Hamm
Loving Leash Meyerman
Hound Dog Link Wray
Hound Dog Man Fabian
How Come My Bulldog Don’t Bark Howard Tate
Dog My Cats Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers
Old Blue Louisiana Honeydrippers
Man With Money Fabulous Poodles
The Poodle Dog Song Jimmie Davis
Tiki Dog Razorblades
It’s A Dog’s Life Plasticland
Dog Tired Tash Mints
Fox Chase Earl Taylor & The Stony Mountain Boys
Fox On The Run Sirens
Tennessee Hound Dog Osborne Brothers
Jackson Dog Larry Brinkley
Hot Dog Ohio Express
Dog Eddie Adcock Band
Bull Dog Down In Sunny Tennessee Dock Walsh with The Carolina Tar Heels
Dog Leg Hipbone Slim & The Knee Tremblers
Old Rattler Grandpa Jones
I Found My Best Friend In The Dog Pound Burl Ives
Recently I read an article; they now claim that dogs can understand up to 255 words. When I was a kid they thought dogs could understand only 25 words, when I was an adolescent they upped it to 50 words.
Either dogs are getting smarter or we are.
Then there was the “shocking” discovery that dolphins have names and that they use these names to refer to each other. And a few days later they discovered that wolves also have names and that they use those names to refer to each other.
Then the latest discovery is that dolphins can remember things that they learned 20 years ago. No reinforcement during the years, they simply remembered some non essential trivia they were taught 20 years ago.
Humanity has always been an insecure race with low self esteem. We’re the center of the universe, we’re made in god’s image ergo we are small gods! That sort of stuff. Why else could we possibly believe that inferior beings just like us were fit to rule us.
Thomas Aquinas had to be deified because he proved that animals have no souls and were placed on this planet for us to dominate. He made doctrine that animals had no feelings, that everything they did was the merest instinct. He justified our cruelty and deceit so that we might live peacefully within our own heads.
Throughout history there are countless stories of dolphins rescuing drawing swimmers, people being attacked by sharks, guiding lost ships to a safe harbor. Somehow we always accept those swamp gas official explanations; that the dolphin was just following instinct, looking for food, trawling the garbage blah blah blah.
It’s crazy to me. If a 9 year old kid suffers the tragedy of uncomprehendingly watching his little sister drown in the swimming pool we assign no guilt. The kid had no way of knowing that his sister was even in trouble. But when an animal, a dolphin looks at an alien being, a person, drowning in the ocean and the dolphin logics out that the person is in trouble and then devises a solution to end that person’s trouble we don’t show a similar amount of empathy and readjust our thinking and consider the intelligence required to make that complicated decision and solution.
I mean if we saw a dolphin splashing around in a puddle we’d most likely walk on by. Because we are people we know that we’re far more important than any animal in trouble and an animal isn’t going to pay us for saving it, is it?
I hate that ancient superstitious nonsense that hobbles us and makes it so hard to see the wonder around us. It prevents us from approaching and appreciating the others we share the planet and our lives with.
When I got my first job, cutting negatives at Universal, I started every day with a dawn patrol at Manhattan Beach Pier. I liked the Pier more than Laguna because the pilot seals in Laguna were too playful and in the way. The Pier was usually empty at the dawn except for a time when this dolphin showed up every morning.
First time I met the dolphin he pulled a trick on me. It scared me to death by pretending to be a shark. When there’s a gray fin cutting through the ocean at 6:00 AM it’s not very applicable to run through the differences between a shark and a dolphin fin.
After the dolphin scared me to death he surfaced and laughed at me. Then, four the next hour he surfed with me. It was a pin in the neck mainly as the sol;phkn had enough speed to catch all the waves and was a total wave hog knocking me off the board more than a few times.
That started my winter of the dolphin. He was there every morning. We’d bicker and we’d surf.
One night the santanas never let up and there was a 5 foot swell with occasional 6 footers. My solitary dawn patrol was crowded. The dolphin was there too.
There were about a dozen of us, fortunately the swell was perfect the waves were perfect peelers and looking out to sea all you could see were rushing humps. Good thing as the dolphin was a total wave hog. With his tail and body he could pull of late take offs we could only dream of. Guys were shouting at him, “off my wave dolphin dude!” Off my wave!”
Didn’t work. The dolphin hung all all session and started to chatter back at us. Maybe they were the equivalent of dolphin whoops. He just hung out in the line up with the rest of us bobbing around. It was a great day. I was late for work.
I never dug zoos, except sometimes the one in Santa Barbara, and only because Santa Barbara had this lemur who could open cages so you’d see this lemur and maybe his companion wandering around. They’d not be terrorizing anybody.
Santa Barbara Zoo also let you get too close to the elephants who were beyond infinitely cool. But aside from that I don’t like zoos. A few dozen field trips to the Griffith Park Zoo couldn’t change this. I don’t like that Wild Animal safari junk either. I’d liked Africa and the animal preserves, but they’ve gotten too popular so it’s not the same anymore.
Anyway, I’d never been to Sea World, which I always thought was just like some sort of floating zoo. I was wrong, it was like a floating circus. I had to go for work for some reason. It was terrible. I watched the dolphin show. I was impressed. I made a mistake. I used my studio pass to hang around and look at the dolphins.
I saw the saddest thing I had seen since I was 6 years old. That was when my mother took me “backstage” at the Barnum and Bailey Circus. I saw the elephants begging to walk but chained and I saw the clowns the clowns drinking out of pint bottles and smoking unfiltered cigarettes. I don’t remember if the clowns said anything. All I heard was the clinking of the elephants chains.
The dolphins were lying there in their lagoon. Lying on their sides and staring at me. They were almost motionless, just a tiny few inches of lolly gagging twisting to vent their blowholes. They stared up at me with one eye apiece. The eyes moved to watch me even though they did not move. They were eyes without hope or passion. Concentration camp eyes like I’d seen in that archival footage and in those old black and white photos. Eyes that had seen nothing but despair for so long that they’d given up and were only waiting until they would be allowed to die.
Today should have been Shelby’s eighth birthday.
She’s still gone. I still miss her and grieve for her everyday.
Patti Page-(How Much Is That) Doggy In The Window
Cat Stevens-I Love My Dog
Lolas-Plenty Of Dogs
Tampa Red-Let Me Play With Your Poodle
Ronnie Self-Ain’t I’m A Dog
Nina Simone-Mr Bojangles
Candy Butchers-Call Off The Dogs
Don Woody-Bird Dog
Doughboys-Keep Your Dog Off Me
Soledad Brothers-Walkin’ The Dog
Elvis Presley-Old Shep
Everley Brothers-Bird Dog
Delbert Barker-No Good Robin Hood
Astronauts-I’m Gonna Buy Me A Dog
John Entwhistle-Mad Dog
Junkyard Dogs-Born To Cry
Adam And The Ants-Dog Eat Dog
Chuckie Chandler and The Chandeliers-Rockin’ Moondog
Mel Price-Little Dog Blues
Big Mamma Thorton-Hound Dog
Gene Vincent-Bird Doggin’
Nomads-Call Off Your Dogs
Jeff Dahl Trio-I Wanna Be Your Dog
Cliff Johnson-Go Away Houndog
Rubinos-Cats And Dogs
Russ Tolman & The Totem Polemen-Portrait Of Blue
Marques Brothers-Let Me Play With Your Larse
Beach Boys-Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Jackie Wilson-(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher
Patti Page-See That Doggie In The Shelter
My puppy has been gone for 23 days. I still mourn her. I still miss her because every morning I wake up expecting to see her standing there ready for another day of adventure.
This podcast is not about her. Not that much. For nearly a year I’ve been gathering up songs about dogs. And I intentionally avoided things like the “Singing Dogs”, which are cool in doses but pretty much just tedious.
The Patti Page bookend songs are pretty self explanatory as are the rest of them. A couple of the songs aren’t so much about dogs but they are about my dogs, which makes their inclusion mandatory.
The Beach Boys and Jackie Wilson tracks are because that is how I feel about dogs. When my wife was in Canada and I was down here a neighbor asked my wife, “Where’s that crazy guy who was always out in the yard dancing with the dogs?”
The crazy guy was me and the Beach Boys and Jackie Wilson were two of the guys we’d always dance to.
There’s not been much to interest me. No great movies are startlingly great music. One thing of small interest is the resurgence of power pop. Radio 2 in Spain has even put together a string of shows featuring some of the old power pop bands! Since I either shared a stage with these guys or went to see them in the 80’s I find them interesting. I do take a perverse pleasure in the fact that most of them have aged far worse than I have . . . It also brings that long held fantasy of a come back!
Then I read about another popster dying (Scot Miller of “Game Theory” being the latest) and I remember Peter Case lying in the hospital and I miss my puppy all over again.
We took a long trip this weekend. A trip we could not begin to afford. It was to look at dogs.
We went to the Aftershock Kennels. After a long tedious drive we arrived to doggie insanity. There were 30 to 40 of the dogs. It was a loud but delicate howling madness that made me smile.
We had to take the trip. We had to look at dogs. I’ve been miserable with constant pain in my chest that was worse than adolescent heartbreak. People kept trying to be kind but it never worked.
I’ve a friend who is a dog careerist – shelters, Animal Control, dog walking services and she said to me, “I’ve known hundreds, no, thousands of dogs and in my whole life I’ve never seen a dog so tightly bonded to anyone like Shelby was bonded to you. She lived her whole life for you.”
But it misses the point that I loved her at least as much as others thought she loved me. I couldn’t make Shelby do much of anything. She did things that would please herself and that would please us. We bickered a lot. She was smart and headstrong. But people are still stopping me on the street to tell me how wonderful Shelby was, they all wanted dogs as well trained as Shelby. They don’t understand Shel and me.
For years to strangers I was the guy with “the big black dog”. To which I could only respond, “You mean my little girl?” Shelby always seemed to know many more people than I did.
I’ve always heard how hard it is too train Belgian Sheepdogs. I’ve never had that problem or any of the scary issues that people describe. I think it was because they wanted an elegant show piece of a dog, one who compliments the wardrobe. (Don’t smirk. Every breeder has a story about someone returning an adult dog because it clashed with the new decor.)
Belgians take advantage of anything – poor locks, ambivalent orders, weakness. Who really wouldn’t? But, I think, that if you approach things as equals, as two living things who are sharing a space and that each of you has differing responsibilities and responsibilities to each other, things seem to go fine. Just fine.
So in a car that needs 4 new tires; a car filled with 2 people and 2 dogs, all badly in search of a new home, we took off to the Aftershock Kennels. It was a mildly uneventful trip, filled mainly with my anxiety at the cost of gas and lodging and my constant barrage of thoughts about how stupid this trip was. No one and no thing could ever replace Shelby. I live with four dogs already. I have a wife who depends on me for somethings. Why did I feel the overwhelming need to fill the Belgian sized hole in my heart?
The next day we arrived at the kennel. It was rather glorious and strange.
The dogs were a fantasy. I have never seen so many gorgeous dogs all together in my life. Thy barked a great melange of warnings and welcomes.
It was a bright and sunny day. The closest I’ve seen of spring this year. The GPS sent us in the weird route over hilly dirt and gravel roads. I assumed we were hopelessly lost when we topped a hill and all you could see were fences and Belgian Terv’s.
There was an electric gate. We watched it roll back as we sat in the car. We congratulated each other and the TomTom for finding the place. The first dog to come greet us was quiet and definitely not a Belgian. It was some sort of funny cross between a labrador and a corgi! It paddled up on its short legs and tried to lead the way to parking.
The lab-corgi was named Labby. She was a rescue that had been hit on the road. Labby showed no sign of the accident. It was funny seeing this squat bright black creature keeping the pack of Belgians in line! Funnier because Labby took her job so seriously. She easily climbed 5 foot gates and scampered around tending her herd of Belgian charges. The Belgians accepted her!
We spent four hours in the bright sun looking at Belgian Tervurens form 2 weeks old up to 15 years old. We were never offered a drink of water or a place to sit. It didn’t much matter.
An 8 week old mail, bigger than the litter and the only one whose ears weren’t fully erect yet, fell in love with my wife. He followed her around just like a puppy dog, through all the distractions and play attacks he clung to her.
My wife claimed that it was because she was the only one of us to sit on the ground. While its true the other puppies and dogs took her low position as something to explore the big flop eared puppy was there before she sat and continued to follow her even when it came time for us to leave. He got stuck under the fence trying to get next to her. He took that good naturedly and was happy so long as he had my wife’s attention. It was clumsy love, but it was love.
There were only two dogs that seemed potential to us. Not including the puppy. One was a two year old with a silver face and black veil and red body. She was supposed to be living in Japan as a foundation dam but the owner fouled up the export/import paperwork so her she stayed. She was a very reserved girl, even for a Belgian. She was also very quiet and very tender. Her confirmation was impeccable and she had the sturdy bone structure with a fine elegance. She was loving without being pushy. A magnificent dog who wanted to be part of a pack that valued her and what she could bring. I thought she could do anything she dreamed of. Her name is Boudicca. Boudicca was a Celtic warrior queen. That appealed to my wife who doesn’t know too many warrior queens but believes herself to be Celtic.
The other girl who caught our eye was called “The Beetle”. She was beautiful and tender; mahogany red with a light black veil and deep deep eyes that carried Beetle’s message that she craved to be held as a special being. Beetle had one issue she has some sort of neurological dysfunction, maybe a brain issue so she moves rather clumsily. She lived in a paddock with the primary sire of the kennel. He cared for her but never coddled her. Clearly he thought she was fine and could make do on her own. That meant a lot.
We came home with no dogs except the two poodles we brought with us. I needed to think about it. I needed to assess the insanity of my plans. And I had to consider whether a Brown dog could ever fit into the space left by a black dog. And most importantly I had to consider whether I could give these two girls or that baby boy the love, attention they deserved and the finery and food and comforts they need.
My job might have finally ended! After several false stops it should be finally over. Unemployed due to the Supreme Court. Yow! Cool.
I miss my little dog.
It is causing me terrible pain, as bad as when my first wife and my son died. It is a different pain but it feels like my soul his being slowly ripped through a hole in my chest. I can’t think of her without tears. I can’t talk about her because I choke up and the pain gets so bad I almost wish for a heart attack. I get angry because no one cares enough that a great living thing so full of love has been ripped so unfairly away.
People wish me condolences on the loss of my daughter. She was never my daughter. It was more important than that. Shelby was my dog and I was her boy. We weren’t family, we weren’t codependent, we took care of each other and taught each other and cared for each other.
The only reason I could afford Shelby was because she failed her puppy temperament test. The first time we met each other she bit me. Drew blood. Then she laid on my foot and then sat calmly in and out of my lap.
That night I had as luxurious crate prepared for her as I could afford. She’d have none of it and cried until I let her out. She dragged herself into the bed and slept on the pillow next to my face. In the morning she used the crate as her toilet until I dragged her outside.
The day the breeder, Julie, took Shelby and I to the dog park with Shelby’s mother and her Uncle Hank. A last romp and a goodbye for when Shelby’s family said goodbye.
Shelby ran to her mother , Reina. Reina rejected her aggressively. Julie explained that was normal and Reina was just telling her it was time for Shelby to make her way in the world.
What everyone noticed was that instead of running to someone familiar she ran to me.
And that was how it started. For the next 8 years every time I looked down I saw Shelby looking back at me, always laughing, always ready with a dog joke to tell me or pull on me.
Living in a big city I know that everyone has hundreds of great stories about their dogs. So do I. Too many.
Every day with Shelby was an adventure. Every walk was an odyssey of excitement. The day we saw the giant opossum, and watched a rabbit and a crow have a fight. Or discovered dinosaur bones, and dinosaurs and ducks. And when she met her best friend, the little blind dog, Ben, the two of them made discoveries unheard of.
I suppose Shelby’s biggest accomplishment was becoming a therapy dog. It was my idea. I thought she could use the training. She was just over a year old when she started and she was terrible. She wanted to play with everybody. I thought she was terrific any time she completed an exercise. The trainers were charmed by Shelby, so charmed that it compelled them to not throw us out of the class.
I didn’t expect Shelby to graduate. I was surprised that during the final exam she not only did well she had top grades. She was so gentle they asked if she could work with children.
Thinking of her then shunts my pain aside. She was amazing. Playing with the children was fun for her and she worked hard at it. She bought a new joy to the children. Some of those kids remembered Shelby as giving them their last smiles. The children would come to my work to visit Dr Shelby. Many cars would pull over when we were walking so that parents and children could come and say hello to the Dr Shelby.
It was when she did her serious work in the oncology ward that she amazed me, me who already thought she could do anything. She walked the hospital hallway, quietly, calmly, wended her way past gurneys and nurses until she came to an open door. She’d stare into the room for a moment and make her decision to either enter or go to the next room. I tried not to peek into the rooms. It was her time. People would talk to me about Shelby but they weren’t really talking to me. They wanted to talk to her and didn’t know how to talk to a dog.
Around then I felt like I should get back into coaching. Of course, Shelby came with me to every practice and she was on the sidelines for every game. In our second year the team got to State; at the football banquet the players voted Shelby their favorite coach.
I just now moved my chair and I remember how she always watched over me. Even when I was in hospital. At night she stayed as close to me as possible. Even when she was sick she always pressed though the pack to get to see me first to make sure I was all right. She loved me enough to tolerate the 14 foster dogs I bought into her life. She didn’t like all of them. She wanted them to follow the rules, her rules mainly. But she endured them even if sometimes I did get “looks”.
Her last three weeks were terrible but she was always loving. I have to walk the five dogs 3 or 4 times a day. I have to make 3 trips. Shelby always insisted on making all the trips with me. She would walk with me or in front of me and the other dogs. As she sickened she started walking 5 or ten feet behind us. She started to walk with her head low, she began sitting and lying down in an untypical way.
We took her to the vet for her annual exam. When they drew blood for her panel her blood was not red but rusty brown. They tested it and her blood count was 12. We began a treatment of massive minocyclin and predosterone (a steroid). Shelby was not responding well, even though her blood count did rise an insignificant amount.
At home she still insisted she go out with me at any opportunity. She wanted me close to her. She slept in the living room. She liked the cold air blowing on her from our drafty front door.
We have to climb a hill to get to the street. When she could no longer climb the hill she figured out another pathway. In a few days even the other path was too difficult. I stopped taking the other guys up the hill and she would slowly follow us around the back yard.
Even after her blood count held steady she was weakening. She started to refuse to eat. But even till the end she always wanted her cookies. She could move fast for a pizza slice! Every time she took a cookie I had hope.
Every night she still found the strength to come and trick me and play jokes on me. She’d put her big old paw on me and make me pet her. She used her paw to direct me to her tummy. She loved her tummy rubs. She was always smiling the same way she smiled at life.
Dr Karen decided we should start to cut back and wean Shelby off some of the drugs, to see if they could be hurting her appetite and energy. To try and be certain what was ehrlichia and what might be a side effect.
Shelby got worse. I took her to work with me. She enjoyed herself immensely but I was tortured thinking that I was putting too much strain on her.
One funny thing she did at work: Shelby always kept a time limit on how long I was able to be out of her sight. I had to step out of the office. I was bent over working on a computer when I was suddenly poked in my butt. I jerked around and there was Shelby all over joyed with herself for finding me.
When she was a puppy we always played hide and seek. She remembered.
Of course all my customers were screaming about the dangerous looking wolf-dog running around on the loose. Shelby and I didn’t care about them. She was just happy to win our game. I was happy that she still wanted to laugh and joke.
We got home that night and Shelby was worsening. She still insisted on coming outside with each of the other dogs but she struggled badly. She was searching for an easier way to get down the gentle slope into the backyard. The search was to hard so she just sat and laughed at me trying to walk the other dogs without her help.
Tuesday she looked too weak to come to work with me. The day at work was miserable without her. When I got home she didn’t have the strength to push to the front of the pack. I pretended not to notice for her sake.
Wednesday we went to the Vet hospital. She was moving so slow. She still wouldn’t eat.
In the car she wouldn’t lie down or sit. I sat terrified that this would be our last car ride together.
At the hospital she still gobbled up every cookie I offered her. She could barely walk. We could only get about 10 yards at a go. She’d take a break, make me pet her and then continue on another 10 yards.
After 90 minutes we finally got to talk to the Doctor. The Doctor was pregnant. The Doctor still sat on the floor, putting her hand on Shelby’s back. Shelby did not try and move away from her.
The Doctor laid out the plan of attack on the ehrlichia. Shel’s blood count was stable so the first thing was to check her reticulites. Which is how many blood cells she is producing. Then if the reticulates were low we would have to do a bone marrow aspiration!! I’ve had several of those and they are up in the top 10 of excruciating pains.
I listened to all this like a petrified log. I led Shelby back into the hospital proper. I got them to give her a run so she could look around and lay out easily. When I left I looked back. Shelby was looking at me with a scared panic free face. She wouldn’t follow the hospital tech until I broke off eye contact.
We waited two hours for the reticulate readings. When they came back they were good, very good. She needed a 60,000 and she got a 200,000! So no bone marrow tests!
The decision was to give her two units of blood and then to do x-rays and a sonogram to try and pin point where she was loosing all the blood she was producing. They let us see her in the run. She was dangling tubes and such. I watched the blood pump labor away while I thought of teasing her about spying on her.
Even with just 1 unit of blood in her Shel was more alert, lying down but with her head up. She watched everything.
The blood transfusion took all night. I went home and showed great discipline. I only called 3 times. Shelby was always doing fine. In the morning she refused food but she did go for a walk and she defecated.
About 8 am the hospital called and said Shelby’s blood count was 22! Still far from ideal but higher than they had hoped for!
Around 10 they called me to recite the bill and to ask my permission to do the x-rays and ultrasound test. Again she was doing great. Standing and watching everything going on. She commented on how well behaved and gentle Shelby was.
My heart was singing.
At 12:10 PM Thursday the Doctor called. She said a lot of blow softening stuff I couldn’t focus on. At 12:02 Shelby stood up and gave a short howl and then collapsed.
They had tried twice to resuscitate her via chemicals and electricity. They were still doing CPR but she was not responding.
I asked them to stop the CPR. After 10 minutes I thought it was hopeless and a miracle resurrection
would still leave her brain damaged.
My wife and I got there as soon as we could. They put us in an examination room and wheeled Shelby in on a cart. When I touched her all that fur made her feel warm. When I had my first two heart attacks Shelby and I were foolishly separated for a few months. When we were reunited she didn’t run and jump into my arms; she snapped at me and tried to run away. She thought I was a ghost returned from the grave. When she saw that I was flesh she was back to leaning on me and demanding I scratch her butt. When I felt her warm fur I thought she was going to jump up and yell at me, “Now you know how it feels!”
It would have been a great joke. But it wasn’t a joke.
I could still feel that Shelby was there. Probably why it felt confusing. I told her she was a good girl and that she would always be my dog.
I asked the Doctor about her howl. I wanted to make sure it was or was not her emergency howl for me to come rescue her. It didn’t sound like it was. It sounded like Shelby was caught unawares and surprised. It was an inarticulate utterance caused by a blood clot from brain suddenly dislodging and striking her brave little heart.
They had covered Shel with a blanket. I pulled it back and saw the weariness of her battle, the two places where they’d shaved for the catheter and how they’d shaved her stomach below her heart.
I rubbed her tummy telling her she was a good girl and that I loved her. More than even a cookie she loved being called a good girl. She hated being called a bad girl and would argue if she thought it was undeserved.
At first her tummy felt like it was Shelby but abruptly it felt like something gray and dead. It was then I realized that Shelby had finally left.
We’re having her cremated. We’ll pick up her ashes next week.
Shelby would not be happy at Rainbow Bridge. She wouldn’t run and play. She would only sit and wait for me.
If you believe in reincarnation I can’t imagine a higher life form for her to evolve into. She loved who she was and it was as close to perfection as any of us could want.
She was the greatest dog in the world. She was my dog. I was her boy.
If you can’t understand that. I’ve nothing to say.
If you do understand and are jealous I understand. I’m jealous of the me that was.
She was 7 years old. Nearly 8. She did nothing but brighten the world for a lot of people but mainly she illuminated my world. It seems even darker now without her in it. It’s not fair to her.
One thing did happen. My wife locked her keys in the car at the hospital. We had to call a locksmith. He was there in about 5 minutes. I don’t know how we must have looked; while he was getting into the car he told us about his 13 year old pit bull who was the glue of his family. He then said, “No charge.”
Shelby, my puppy, passed away today at 12:02 PM.
It was surprising only because she had been showing so much improvement. After enduring 2 units of blood in a transfusion all her vital signs showed marked improvement. There were signs that this was going to be treatable or at least manageable.
But then she suddenly let off a strangled howl and collapsed, dead.
After 10 minutes of CPR there was no response. I asked them to stop as even if she miraculously survived after that time she surely would have been brain damaged.
I will miss her. So will many others.
She was the greatest dog in the world.
school athletes and major league players.
There was no pay for the article. It never occurred to me that people would pay you for writing words. I was disappointed, not by the lack of money but by the response of the publisher. I thought I’d written the greatest love song to The Flash imaginable. All I got was an index card that said, “Good article.” It wasn’t even signed!
I was irked.
I found out a few years later that the fellow who published the Rocket Blast was 19. He had cystic fibrosis. He was in a wheel chair and he did all of his typing by holding the pencil in his teeth and punching the keys on an IBM Selectric one at a time with the pencil.
Inside I discovered what the word churlish meant and wondered how you could apologize for unspoken irkedness.
That fanzine is a funny thing to have pop into my mind. Tomorrow the team I assisting coaching with are playing for the league championship.
I wouldn’t expect anyone to be surprised at this except this is a basketball team . . .
They’ve tried to throw our team out of the league. They tried to throw the head coach I’m mentoring out of the league. The HC is 23 years old and this is the first time he’s ever coached. He made mistakes but they were all forgivable ones. I came down on him harder than they did.
They tried to throw one of our players out of the league. He’s a warrior, so you know I like him. He plays basketball and he also plays baseball for his high school team. So I double like him.
If we win the championship they want me to accept the trophy and make a speech. I’m pretty sure they expect me to rail against the league and the shabby way we feel we’ve been treated by them. What I’ll probably say is something like championships are a rare thing to play for, and rarer to win. How many people ever get the chance to say I did my best and my best was enough.
The greatest man I ever met was the late Coach Eddie Robinson. He was the football coach at Grambling who for a while had more victories than any coach in NCAA history.
Coach Robinson told me how he used to have to mark out the field and place the line markers before games. While he was doing this he realized how much he loved coaching. He said to love coaching you had to love the athletes you taught. In later years he realized that to merely be a decent coach you had to love your players.
I turned this into my own bromide I constantly preach, “No coach ever won a game and no player ever lost a game.”
To me that means the joy a coach receives is consummate to the way his players perform and behave. That is a game is lost because a guy loses his temper and gets ejected it is up to the coach to teach the player to keep his temper, to find out what burns inside of him to the point of bad behavior. If a game is lost it’s because the coach hasn’t taught the player how to make the play. He hasn’t given the player the tools to succeed.
It’s the coaches job to instill the desire to improve and to learn and study enough of the game to know what to teach the players and how to teach them.
When the team wins it is the players who strived, who pushed themselves to places that they had never imagined they could enter, accomplish dreams that they never knew they were capable of. All the coach can do is be proud that he is associated with them.
That’s why winning is only important in that it gives us the chance to see what we can accomplish.
Each of the players, the ones on our team and the ones we competed against has improved this season. I’ve seen it from all of you and I was proud of all of you, proud to play against you and to play with you.
Or something like that. Hopefully better than that.
The gentle dog had his surgery to remove a nasty tumor. The word today is that he is, for now, cancer free. There’s still some small worries ahead but he’s still feeling fine enough to bite me every chance he gets.
The deaf dog is doing fine after her second heart worm treatment. She absolutely refuses to lie quiet and calm for a month . . .
Giant dog still wants to kill deaf dog and is incredibly jealous of all the attention gentle dog is receiving after his surgery.
Criminal dog is still laughing at us all.
And my puppy is still grumpy and still in love with me.
The last podcast is still available up ion the title bar menu. It seems sort of redundant to keep reposting the thing here.
I’ll have the 10th one ready this week. I’m surprised that they’re popular. Very perplexing to me. I figured a half dozen people would care and didn’t worry about it. It looks like about 500 downloads each so far. I’m surprised is all.
Of course the only questions I receive about them are on the order of what kind of gear do I listen to this music through. Mostly homemade stuff, or hand built if you want to sound fancy . . .
I’ve disabled comments again. Too much spam, like in the tens of thousands a day. Jerks.