He was a well-traveled dog who loved the road more than anything, except maybe you and me.
He was a survivor of Baltimore’s less tender side who was picked up as a stray, placed in a city shelter, found a home with some writer guy and went on to become a therapy dog and minor celebrity.
He was the subject of a five-part newspaper series examining his roots, a book (unpublished and unfinished), the inspiration for this website, and my reason for being.
And now the hardest words I’ve ever written: Ace is dead.
Last week, he was frolicking in the woods. This week, he slowed down to a state near lethargy and showed little interest in eating, and in the past two days he began swelling up — mostly in the belly region.
Having recovered from his recent bladder surgery, he was the same dog he always was — until Monday night when he came inside showing no interest in his nightly treat.
The vet’s diagnosis was congestive heart failure and possible tumors — hemangiosarcoma.
Blood was not getting to his liver, and fluids were pooling up inside.
Based on Ace’s age (nearly 12, a good 90 in human years for a dog of his size), based on the poor outlook in either case, or the even worse outlook in the case of both, and based on his apparent discomfort, the vet recommended putting him down.
When I asked for some time to think about it, the vet said that wasn’t a good idea. When I asked to take Ace home and bring him back today, he said that wasn’t a good idea, either.
So we took an hour before the deed was to be done. We started walking. It started raining. It was taking all of his effort to keep up with me, and I (being a fellow member of the congestive heart failure club) walk pretty darn slow.
We stopped at a Domino’s and sat on the pavement under an overhang. I bought him a small cheese pizza — his favorite food. He took two bites, but only because I insisted.
We stopped in the rain on the way back. I briefly debated whether I was doing the right thing. I held his head in my hands, rested my head on his and looked into his eyes. I could still see the love in them, but not the joy.
Back at the vet, on the floor with his head in my lap, the vet administered a sedative. Ace was soon snoring. Once the lethal injection was administered, his heartbeat slowed within minutes and then, around 6 p.m. Thursday, stopped.
I’ll get his ashes in a week or so, and I’ll spread them in Black Walnut Bottoms, the trail in Bethania he loved.
Having written a lot about dogs and death, I thought I’d be better prepared for this. But I’m a wreck.
In answer to one of the questions asked a lot over the years, no — a resounding NO! — he will not be cloned. Having written a book on dog cloning, people ask that of me. Clearly, they never read the book.
In 2011, Ace and I set off on a trip duplicating the route John Steinbeck took in “Travels with Charley.”
It ended up lasting a year, and covering 27,000 miles. I think I speak for both of us when I say it was the time of our lives.
“Travels with Ace” didn’t interest any publishers, but it will hang around on the Internet — at least until my time comes.
I still need to finish the last chapter, but I can promise you this:
In the book, Ace won’t die.
(Photos: Top, Ace at Salvation Mountain in California; Ace at the Bandera County Courier in Texas; Ace and John (photo by Brendan Finnerty); Ace with a bust of John Steinbeck in Monterey, California)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 20th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace is dead, animals, baltimore, baltimore sun, barcs, dead, death, died, dies, dog, dogs, goodbye, heart failure, hemangiosarcoma, inspiration, lethal injection, muse, obit, obituary, ohmidog!, pets, put down, stray, therapy dog, travels with ace, tumors, veterinary
If you are in between dogs — if you’ve recently lost one and can’t quite make the leap to bringing home another — here’s something worth reading.
Allie Potts, a North Carolina writer, puts into words all those hard to pin down feelings that bounce around in one’s head when one is simultaneously coping with grief, dealing with the void of being dog-less, and wondering if getting a new dog is somehow disrespectful to the dear departed old one.
To deal with that, Potts, upon getting a new dog, wrote a letter to her old one.
“Another four-legged creature joined the family and needed a place to sleep. I think you would have liked her. She’s a mix of Lab, like you, but Boxer too, which was always your favorite playmate. But she’s not you.”
Potts recounts the feelings that arose as she sat with the new dog on the couch, much like she did with the old one.
“I felt so guilty. Guilty that I was enjoying her warmth by my side. Guilty that we couldn’t do more to keep you there longer. Guilty I am happy to once again see a bowl on the ground.
“But she really is a good girl and I was the one to suggest we bring her home. In fairness to her, I am trying to remember all your flaws as much as I recall your virtues. How you could clear the room after a meal. The books of mine you destroyed. That incident with the bunny.
“The trouble is, I loved you with your flaws as much as you loved me with mine.”
Having had ten dogs come into and go out of my life, I’d agree with her that comparing dogs is hard to avoid — and at the same time a useless pursuit.
“She’s not you, true, but she’s herself; a dog who is sweet and mostly well-mannered. A dog who deserves to be loved for who she is rather than considered somehow flawed for who she’s not…
“So please forgive me if I eventually allow my heart to stop comparing, as difficult as that seems now. When I scratch her behind her ears or throw her a ball to chase, it doesn’t mean I miss you any less. It will just mean I’ve finally allowed my heart to grow more.”
(Top photo from Fort-morgan.org, Potts photo from Alliepottswrites.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 8th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: allie potts, animals, bond, comparing, death, dog, dogs, dying, essay, grieving, loss, mourning, new dog, north carolina, pets, writer
That’s why Ace and I had our’s, though we simply called it an extended road trip, years ago.
New York City resident Neil Rodriguez was living out his and his dog’s list, when his yellow Lab, Poh, diagnosed a year earlier with tumors and kidney failure, died earlier this month.
Rodriguez finished up the list anyway.
He took Poh, in the form of a large photograph, to Disney World, introducing him to Pluto, Mickey Mouse and others.
On Sunday, Rodriguez posted photos on social media, including one of Mickey Mouse holding a photo of Poh at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando.
“After a couple of tries, we finally fulfilled one last item on #pohthedog bucket list,” the photo’s caption read.
Rodriguez, a DJ, took Poh on a seven-week cross-country trip that included stops in 22 states. They visited Bourbon Street, the Alamo, the Santa Monica Pier and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The trip was depicted in photos and videos on Poh’s Instagram account, Poh the Dog’s Big Adventure, which now has more than 130,000 followers.
In July and August, they traveled to Chicago and the East Coast.
By this February, the dog’s health deteriorated and Rodriguez made the decision to put him down on Feb. 16. Poh died four days before that date, of natural causes.
“Because Poh is Poh, he went out on his own terms, while we were on the road, naturally in … my arms,” Rodriguez wrote in an Instagram post.
(Photos from Poh the Dog’s Big Adventure)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 24th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bucket, bucket list, bucket lists, death, disney world, dog, dogs, instagram, list, mourning, neil rodriguez, pets, photos, poh, poh's big adventure, travel, trips, yellow lab
We thought we’d heard of every way there is to immortalize a beloved canine companion — from taxidermy to cloning, from turning ashes into jewelry to inserting ashes into a stuffed animal — but this is a new one on us.
A British ex-soldier has paid tribute to the dog he served with in Afghanistan by getting a tattoo on his leg, made from ink mixed with the animal’s ashes.
Treo, a bomb-detecting black Lab, moved in with his handler after the two left the Army at about the same time.
Treo died in October at the age of 14, and now Dave Heyhoe, an ex-sergeant, wears a tattoo on his calf of Treo’s pawprint and 80 words relating to how the dog loyally served his handler.
“The tattoo completes me,” the former serviceman from Cheshire told the Daily Mail. “People might think it’s strange, but Treo was like a son to me, and his death has knocked me for six.
“Over the years we have seen gunfire, death and bomb scares together – I’ve been lost without him. Now it feels like Treo is by my side – where he’s supposed to be.”
During his service, the black Labrador is said to have prevented the deaths of dozens of British troops. He was awarded the Dickin Medal in 2010 for his service.
That tattoo is not Heyhoe’s only tribute to the dog.
He also wrote a book about him, “It’s All About Treo, Life, Love and War with the World’s Bravest Dog.”
(Photos: SWNS/Daily Mail)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 16th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, army, ashes, black, bomb-detecting, dead, death, dog, dogs, immortalizing, ink, lab, labrador, loss, memorials, military, pets, remembering, retriever, tattoo, treo dave heyhoe, tributes
There was no justice for Nala in Baltimore this week.
A Baltimore Circuit Court judge on Thursday acquitted a former city police officer charged with animal cruelty, misconduct and mutilating an animal after he slit the seven-year-old Shar-Pei’s throat in the summer of 2014.
Judge Melissa M. Phinn said the state did not present adequate evidence that proved Jeffrey Bolger, 50, was responsible for the death.
That despite the fact he pulled out a knife and drew it across the throat of a dog already restrained by a catchpole — after uttering, at least according to one witness, “I’m going to gut this thing.”
Phinn noted that the verdict might not be popular, but said the evidence indicated the officer was acting in the interest of public safety and putting the dog out of it’s misery.
She also noted that Maryland’s Chief Medical Examiner David R. Fowler testified that the dog likely was dead before her throat was cut.
Phinn said that Bolger would not have the expertise to know the dog was already dead when he slit its throat.
Bolger’s attorneys — attempting to cover all the bases — had argued both that the dog was already dead and that Bolger was attempting to euthanize the dog in the most humane way possible.
“Rather than have a dog suffer needlessly, a dog that was going to be tested for rabies, he decided to make an incision,” said Bolger’s attorney, Steven H. Levin, said as he left the courthouse with his client on Thursday.
Apparently, at least according to the defense arguments the judge bought, Bolger — or should we call him Dr. Bolger — decided to euthanize an already subdued dog he wasn’t sure was dead or alive out of the goodness of his heart with his trusty pocket knife.
Contrary to the state medical examiner’s findings, a necropsy performed by a doctor working for the city’s animal control determined a cut artery led to the dog’s death.
The state medical examiner said those findings were faulty, and while some witnesses said they heard the dog whimper and that her eyes remained opened before Bolger cut her, the medical examiner testified that both signs are not uncommon even after death.
The judge noted that, while one witness said they heard Bolger say, “I’m going to gut this thing,” another person within earshot did not recall him use the phrase.
Prosecutor Paul O’Connor had argued the Bolger had no reason to slit the dog’s throat, saying she was already restrained when Bolger cut her.
Bolger’s attorneys argued that the officer did not have proper equipment to sedate the dog, that the dog choked “itself” to death while on the pole, and that Bolger used the knife to protect the public.
Both that pole and Nala’s collar “disappeared” long before the trial started.
Nala escaped from her yard last year and was spotted roaming the streets of a Highlandtown neighborhood. Police were called after she bit a pregnant woman who was trying to rescue her from traffic.
Bolger had no comment to reporters at the trial’s conclusion, other than to thank his attorneys. The dog’s owner, Sarah Gossard, 30, left the courtroom in tears.
In a Facebook post Thursday, she said she was “heartbroken,” by the judge’s verdict.
“I do believe that just because this judge didn’t find the evidence sufficient, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t kill her. I don’t feel that justice was served but I can only hope that Nala’s death has raised animal cruelty awareness.”
After the trial, Bolger’s attorneys talked about their client’s suffering — that’s right, Bolger’s suffering.
Levin said the case drew nationally publicity, negatively affected his client’s life and forced him to retire early from the police department and suffered after having been suspended without pay.
State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie said her office was disappointed by the judge’s decision. “It will not deter us from pursuing and prosecuting those who commit heinous acts against animals,” she said.
Katie Flory, who heads the Mayor’s Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission and is director of Community Affairs for the Maryland SPCA, said she was also disappointed by the verdict.
“We are very sad and frustrated to hear that a guilty verdict was not given today. It shows us that we have a lot more work to do when it comes to the egregious acts to animals in our city,” she told the Baltimore Sun.
“We are very sad for Sarah’s family,” Flory added. “It’s not going to bring Nala back and we hoped for justice for Nala, and for her family.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 20th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animals, baltimore, catch pole, catchpole, circuit court, cut, death, dog, dogs, jeffrey bolger, judge melissa phinn, killed, mutilation, nala, not guilty, officer, pets, police, shar-pei, sharpei, slashed, slit, throat, verdict
Allow us to be the first website on the planet to present this photo without sensationalizing or making any judgments.
Ashley Lang, of Chicago, took the ashes of her golden retriever, Wagner, to his favorite park to spread them.
A friend went along and, at the moment Lang released the ashes, the friend snapped this photo with her iPhone.
In the photo, especially after the color saturation was increased, a misty silhouette can be seen.
To Lang, and others, the cloud of ashes looks much like Wagner, who died at age 12.
“It’s pretty remarkable … the tail and the legs and he looks like he’s, you know, leaping to go up,” Lang is quoted as saying by CBS in Chicago. “Everyone keeps calling him the angel dog.”
We think … well it doesn’t matter what we think.
What matters is what Lang thinks — and to her it was Wagner’s way of saying goodbye.
(Photo courtesy of Ashley Lang)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 26th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ashes, ashley lang, death, dog, dogs, golden retriever, grief, grieving, loss, message, mourning, perception, pets, photo, wagner
Anderson Cooper’s dog, Molly, died Tuesday.
Cooper Instagrammed a photo of his Welsh Springer Spaniel, along with the remarks, “An old picture of my sweet dog Molly, who passed away today.”
He did not offer any details as to what caused the 11-year-old dog’s death.
Molly appeared in a 60 Minutes special on dogs’ emotional intelligence called “Does Your Dog Really Love You?”
Her first TV appearance, though, came in 2011 on Cooper’s former talk show. She came onto the set and buried her nose in Anderson’s pants.