Category Archives: dogs

Winslow

January 30, 2004 – August 12, 2018

Winslow supervises the Pacific Ocean

We have no dogs in our house anymore.

For the first time in our marriage, we are two instead of five, or four, or three. Winslow, our sweet old pit bull, died Sunday at the age of 14-and-a-half.

Winslow was not the “Best Dog Ever” — that title will always belong to Coolidge. She had no patience for fetching. She did not grovel for belly rubs. Squeaky toys annoyed her. She was indifferent to treats.

She did not care for walking, but when we insisted, she always paused to press her nose into the same white trailside flower, and she always made a full stop and raised a paw for medical assistance if a thorn brushed against her or an errant fleck of gravel touched her toe.

She was particular about where she sat — her bottom only touched carpet, never tile. She grumbled and grunted with maximum disdain if you were in her spot on the couch, and she leapt at that warmed cushion if you got up to refresh your drink. For being only 60 pounds, she had a knack for maximizing her surface area on the California king, pushing both Pat and me to the margins.

She was a strict enforcer of bedtime: At 7:30 PM (in Arizona or California), she departed the living room for our bedroom with an insouciant sniff. At 8:30, she began to bark her commands to turn off that television, brush our teeth and get in the bed. And if she had to get up in the middle of the night to relieve herself or celebrate the Supermoon, she made sure you knew that the dog door was “exit only:” It was our responsibility to let her back inside and put her back on the bed… which we did at 2:30 in the morning.

With her discerning sniffs, she made sure we did everything right: From pumping up our bicycle tires to administering her many medications with the correct (and most generous) Pill Pocket-to-pill ratio, to packing the car for our road trips and ensuring her maximum comfort therein.

No, she was not the Best Dog Ever, but she was a Good Dog. Instead of being a slobbering pleaser like Coolidge, she was a cool companion, grateful for our place in her world, and we were grateful that she was our friend.

Winslow loved to luxuriate in a pile of fresh laundry, still warm from the dryer, and she built mighty pillow fortresses on our bed. She enjoyed a good flop on the cool grass, as much as she reveled roasting on the hot rocks in the gravel beds. In her youth, she joined Coolidge in defending our backyard with warnings to the joggers on the sidewalk beyond our fence. As a middle-aged den mother, she welcomed us home with enthusiastic howls, “Roo! Roo! Roo!”

Her howls had grown mostly quiet since Coolidge departed this mortal coil last year. Her world grew smaller, circumscribed by hobbled hips and muffled hearing and the general indignities of being 90-something in dog years.

Since Coolidge passed, she didn’t come to greet me when I returned from work each day. I could always hear Pat through the door saying, “She’s here! She’s here!” and I’d be lucky to get a head cocked in my direction as she lounged from her bed beside Pat’s desk.

This brindle shadow was Pat’s workday constant in the year since Coolidge died. Winslow would stand then sit then lay in a melancholy vigil by the front door when he went out for an errand or a walk, leaving chopped-liver me (in her spot) on the couch by myself.

Yesterday, after Dr. Rachel at Scottsdale Animal Healthcare had assured us that we had done our best and there was nothing more to do, we came home to a silent house. We took off on our bikes to burn off our tears in the desert sun, and she did not greet us at the door when we returned.

She wasn’t there to lick the sweat and tears from our cheeks. 

Our house is quiet now. It has no dogs. We’ll welcome others when the time is right, but as with Ruby and Ink and Red Puppy and Coolidge, it will be different. When you give your heart to a dog, you will always end up heartbroken, but it will always be worth it.

Winslow

Coolidge, May 5, 2003 – January 16, 2017

Coolidge.

When we got home, he did not greet us at the door with the crusty honey badger toy in his mouth. He didn’t report on the Mongol hordes he chased from the back fence. He didn’t open the pantry door with his smart nose, nudging us with his old-man mutterings toward the Milk Bones.

When we got home, he wasn’t there.

We have a 113-pound hole in our house and our hearts where Coolidge used to live.

Last night when I woke up at 1:40 in the morning, I walked unimpeded in darkness to the bathroom. This morning, when I made coffee, I traversed a hallway free of the old-man turdlettes and tinkles that didn’t quite make it out the dog door. These are now conveniences, but not comforts.

Every dog is good in its own way. Every dog is the best there ever was to their own humans. We have had great dogs before. We still have one by our side, but there will never be another Coolidge, the Best Dog Ever.

I will remember him thundering down the stretch of side yard to unleash his fearsome fury on those insidious parents pulling their toddlers in red wagons, threatening our very existence with their need to walk on the sidewalk. I will miss the jowl-flapping relish with which he destroyed his kibble… and his Milk Bones… and Winslow’s Milk Bones. I won’t be able to open a bag of baby carrots without remembering that curious nose at my hip and the necklaces of drool descending to the floor with covetous love. I will always smile at how he ran laps around the dog park, unconcerned about the butt-sniffing and back-biting of the others: He just loved to run.

He was a Viking of a dog, pillaging and plundering every nook of our yard and every treat in our hands. He lived his life big.

I loved him rubbing his face between the couch cushions; studying the front-yard litter of mesquite beans to find just the right afternoon snack; unleashing great, satisfied burps at the conclusion of his epic bone-chewing adventures, and sighing his great contentment at being the G.O.A.T. of dogs.

His list of accomplishments was many: Catching a quail on the wing at the tender age of 2. Snatching a squirrel from the yard at the august age of 13.Recreating a crime scene in our own backyard. Putting all sorts of baby rabbits, turds, dead birds, shoes and sticks in his mouth, and offering this frankincense and myrrh to us as grateful gifts for the rich life he lived.

He jumped on top of tables, terrified Jehovah’s Witnesses, bodysurfed in Malibu, outran a dirt bike, chewed the step off our deck and loved us and Winslow completely.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a life expectancy of 10 or 11. At 13-and-a-half, Coolidge well outlived his warranty. We are grateful for the time he gave us, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Coolidge.

CSI: Coolidge Scene Investigators

The victim appeared to be a 110-pound Rhodesian Ridgeback

If you ever have to dispose of a body, do yourself a favor and don’t chop it up and transport it in the back of you car. Just ditch the car – wipe the prints and roll it off a mountaintop.

I can assure you: The trunk of your car will never be the same after it’s housed a dead body. The clean-up is long, loud and ultimately impossible. There will be blood – lots of it – and some day far in the future when you’re thinking you’ve managed to escape the long arm of justice, some crafty crime scene investigator or blood-spatter analyst will come along and bust your ass¹ for busting a cap in someone else’s ass.

I know this because Pat and I spent $354.31 and two hours last night cleaning up the aftermath of Coolidge Carnage™.

Those of you who are faint of heart may not want to read on or access our Gallery of Gore™.

Continue reading CSI: Coolidge Scene Investigators

Dewey: Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After - I think we're gonna get along just fine.

If the best revenge is living well, Dewey will soon be featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Canine.

Actually he’s in Ahwatukee, but I can assure you he doesn’t know the difference: His Forever Home with his new Dad Kerry beats the carpool lane of State Route 51 by about 16 miles.

He has a swimming pool, a big yard, his very own doggie door, plush parks within walking distance, a nearby duck pond and most importantly, a man who loves him and is committed to giving him a good life.

Kerry is a motorcycle racer. We met him last week at the CCS Southwest Race Series at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix. Since we had adopted our Winslow from a racer foster-family, I figured we could search among the pits to find some pit-loving souls to take this one in. Unfortunately, as I was trotting our four-legged ambassador of love around, I kept meeting folks who already had one or two or three well-trained dogs at home. Sigh. I gave them my card and told them that we were looking for a good home for Dewey and to please let me or Pat know if any of their friends might be interested. We went back to Pat’s tent to sit in front of the air-cooler and plan our next steps.

Continue reading Dewey: Happily Ever After

Dewey: Let’s Get This Boy Home!

Lookin' Sharp and Lookin' for Love

Great news: Our veterinarian Dr. Brown has given Dewey a clean bill of health. His eye infections are clear. His incisions have healed, and he doesn’t seem to miss his missing testicles!

Epic news: Living with his Foster Mom 21.3 miles from the State Route 51 HOV lane, he’s come light years from the bag of scraggly bones Pat saved from certain doom. He’s put on 4 pounds and is beginning to understand that in the civilized world, we eat nutritious food (as opposed to rat carcasses), at regularly scheduled intervals (not catch as catch can) and out of clean bowls (instead of Dumpsters). If he had opposable thumbs, he’d probably know the difference between his salad fork and dessert spoon by now. Even more epic, Dr. Brown thinks he needs to gain only 5 more pounds before his spine disappears into his flanks and he is the picture of studly dogness (at a modest 65 pounds instead of our original maximum guestimate of 80 pounds).

Most Excellent News of Triumphant Awesomeness: You have not missed out on this exclusive opportunity to make Dewey a part of your family!

Continue reading Dewey: Let’s Get This Boy Home!