In memory of Stan, the biscuit man
There, for years, he was dog’s best friend.
He knew almost all the regulars by name, and many of them, like my dog Ace, could spot him from hundreds of yards away. They’d run to greet him, then follow him as he slowly trudged up to the park gazebo, his dog — his very, very fat dog — Louie, at his side.
There, on a bench by the gazebo, Stan would hold court daily — complaining about politicians, grumbling about bureaucracies, and breaking out his big bag of treats, which he’d fling, one at a time, to the dogs that would congregate.
I got word yesterday that Stan, the biscuit man — a fixture, if not a legend, at Baltimore’s Riverside Park — had died, on Christmas day.
Stan was one of the first friends Ace made at the park, and one he never forgot.
Last year, when we returned to the city after nine months on the road, we stopped first at the park. Ace was reacquainting himself with its smells when, a good 100 yards in the distance I saw a man rolling up the sidewalk on one of those powered scooters, a fat black dog following him.
And of course Stan had treats. He always did.
Some called him Stan the biscuit man, some called him Stan the cookie man. Some just called him Stan — easy to remember because it was stitched right there on his blue mechanic’s jacket.
Dogs always perked up when they saw Stan, and vice versa.
Not all the humans appreciated his generosity. There were those who detoured when he was sitting at his bench of choice — those who either didn’t want their dogs to fill up on treats, or feared that, with so many dogs vying for them, it could lead to trouble.
But I rarely saw any of that. Instead, dogs — sometimes three, or four, or five or six — would sit and waiting patiently for their turn, as he tossed the bargain biscuits into the air.
If any got too eager, too pushy, or tried to grab the biscuits before he tossed them, he’d gently admonish them by name: “Wait your turn, Argus. Don’t be greedy, Ace. Let this little guy in here to get some.”
His own dog, Louie, a pit bull mix, nearly as wide as he is long, always seemed to get his fill. After a while, Louie would stop eating the treats he was tossed, instead just catching and dropping them to the ground, where other dogs would scoop them up.
Stan, who was out of work on disability and suffered from back problems, eventually stopped walking all the way to the gazebo, settling for a bench on the edge of the park, closer to his home, at least until he got the scooter.
While I’ve not heard the details of his death, I’m told Louie, who Stan lived alone with, is being cared for by a friend. If you knew Stan, and want to share any information or memories about him, please feel free to leave a comment on this post.
What I’ll always remember about him is, no matter how worked up he got grumbling about politics, his ire subsided and his face always brightened up when he talked about Louie.
“It’s like living with a cartoon character,” he once told me.
I don’t know if Louie’s new guardian lives in the same South Baltimore neighborhood, or whether Louie will continue waddling up to Riverside Park everyday. But even if he does, without Stan, Riverside Park will be one character short.
Postscript: After this post appeared, we heard from Stan’s sister-in-law Mary. (Her full comment appears in the comments section below.)
According to Mary, Stan was diagnosed in July with lung cancer and went through chemotherapy and radiation. While he beat the cancer, he became weak and developed pneumonia.
“One thing lead to another and he finally could no longer fight. He died on Christmas day. Louie is living with Tom in Catonsville. Tom had been Stan’s friend since elementary school. He has 3 dogs of his own and now added Louie. He has lost 6 inches from around his waist and now runs and plays with his new pals. Tom’s wife met us at the funeral home after the cemetery and had Louie with her. He looks happy and much thinner and full of absolute ‘dog joy.’ She said when she looks at Louie she sees Stan.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 3rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, baltimore, characters, dog, dogs, fixture, louie, parks, pets, regular, riverside park, south baltimore, stan, stan the biscuit man, stan the cookie man, treats