I promised myself long ago that, when Ace’s time came, I wouldn’t make too big a deal of the big dog’s death on these pages.
Unlike many dog websites, this one has always tried to avoid blatantly tugging on heartstrings — and to eschew all those mushy sounding and unnecessary words like “beloved” and “adorable” and “fur baby.”
We’ve always made it a point not to pander to your love for dogs with adjectives — just to cultivate it with truths.
For that reason, and others, we’re not going to be writing about Ace’s death a whole lot more.
Already, there have been more words written about him — between ohmidog! and Travels with Ace — than probably any other dog around. To keep going on and on about him (which in life I always viewed as “sharing”) would become something more like exploiting.
In other words, having made such a big deal out of his life, my plan was to refrain making a big deal out of his death.
But look what you went and did.
You’ve clogged my emailbox, you’ve kept my phone ringing, you’ve commented on my Facebook page and put up your own posts, often with your photos of Ace.
Since Ace’s death, I’ve heard from friends in Baltimore, Philadelphia and North Carolina, friends in — to name a few — Seattle, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Ohio, Montana, California, Arizona, New Mexico, New Jersey.
And those were just the ones who actually met him.
Hundreds more, from across the country and even overseas, who came to know Ace through our websites, left comments here and on Facebook — many of which made me cry all over again.
I guess that’s a good thing.
Thank you is what I’m trying to say, in a non-sniffly way, to those who touched Ace and were touched by him.
“Folks who don’t believe that dogs have souls have never met Ace,” a North Carolina friend wrote on her Facebook page. “I saw the effect he had on people everywhere he went. People were very drawn to Ace, it was amazing to watch. He was pure LOVE.”
“Ace was loved by so many all over the country … our hearts break for you,” wrote another, who put Ace and me up for days in Seattle during our year long “Travels with Ace” journey — and helped him overcome some stomach distress. (He arrived there with a bad case of diarrhea, probably the result of too much fast food.)A Baltimore buddy wrote, “Today is one of those days where something comes across your newsfeed that you dread seeing. Many moons ago Bim and I met a big guy of a dog named Ace at Canton Dog Park. Unlike some other big dogs, where Bim felt intimidated, he and Ace were very content to just “be” together … Ace was one of, if not THE, most amazing, chill, coolest, sweetest dogs I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.” This from a woman who Ace once pulled out of her chair and dragged across a few feet of pavement after I asked her to hold Ace’s leash for a minute.
“You will be so very missed by so many! Thank you for teaching us how to love every minute of life! The original bar dog, park dog. I am so sorry HB (Honeybun) tried to eat you the first time she met you.”
Another friend, who spend some dog park and bar time with Ace here in Winston-Salem, wrote: “Lauren and I first met Ace five and a half years ago on an assignment for the Winston-Salem Journal, and when we arrived at our interview, we saw him, a giant black-and-tan dog, gliding through the trees. We joked that he probably weighed more than 5’2” me. (He did.)
“…I watched Ace break up dog-park scuffles with the kindness and wisdom of a compassionate cop, moving his massive body between the offending parties. I saw him snack on peanut shells at one of my favorite Winston dive bars. Once, Lauren and I shared some beers with him in a booth (still one of my all-time favorite photos). He was the most gentle dog I’ve ever met … I’ll be hugging Stringer extra-tight tonight, and I hope y’all do the same with your pets. Rest easy, Aceface. The world will miss you.”
A former neighbor here in Winston-Salem whose two dachshunds were close friends and dog-walking buddies, sent this email:
“I don’t know what to say. I was thinking of what to say and then of all the things I would not like to hear… I guess I just wanted you to know that while I cannot understand what you are feeling right now … I am constantly thinking of all the many, many great times I had with you and Ace. I don’t think I knew how many until I really thought about it.”
Then she brought up Ace’s most shameful day — when he (always exceedingly gentle with every creature from baby kittens to baby ducks) took off, along with the dachshunds, after a baby bunny in College Village.
“The memory that stands out to me is the one involving the very unfortunate bunny in CV. Watching Ace actually grieve over the fact that he accidentally stepped on one, while the doxies went nuts for blood. I am grateful for having Ace in my life …”
Some of those who got in touch had only known Ace for minutes.
This from a woman we bumped into five and a half years ago at a rest area in Montana, and spent maybe five minutes with:
“John, my heart breaks for you. I remember meeting you and Ace at that rest stop in Montana during your Travels with Ace road trip. He was sweet and gentle and willingly accepted my St. Bernard Charlie’s clumsy attempts for attention. As I lost Charlie just over a year ago, rest assured Charlie is now helping Ace settle in wherever special dogs go after their time with us.”
Dozens more who passed along their condolences were people who never met him at all — knowing him only through the Internet.
“My deepest condolences to John Woestendiek, whose eloquent journey with his beloved Ace has come to an end. Thank you for opening our eyes to BARCS (Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care, the shelter Ace was adopted from) and for showing us what love looks like,” wrote Baltimore attorney and animal welfare activist Caroline Griffin.
It is greatly comforting to know he lives on.
Sure, I’m still doing all those things that people who have lost dogs do — steering clear of the dog food aisle at the grocery store, getting used to returning to an empty house, marveling at how less often I have to empty the vacuum bag, thinking about the next dog, in a while, and worrying how unfair it might be to put a dog in a position to be his follow-up act.
Like most readers of this website, I can’t imagine a dog-less life.
Like a lot of you, I probably have a more admiring view of dogs than I do of humans.
But your response to Ace’s passing — the eloquent words you shared with me at a time when it’s so hard to come up with the right thing to say — has moved me more than I can describe (without getting sappy).
Let’s just say humans can be pretty decent, too.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 23rd, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace's death, animals, best friend, comments, dead, death, dies, dog, dogs, facebook, friends, grieving, loss, mourning, ohmidog!, pets, photos, thanks, travels with ace, tributes
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
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
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
It may only be a short-term one, but a dying man in a Kentucky hospital seemed to have a new lease on life after a visit from his Chihuahua.
And ditto for the dog.
James Wathen, after a month in the hospital, wasn’t doing well, and had stopped eating, hospital workers say.
Social workers at Baptist Health Corbin, trying to lift his spirits, talked to him and learned he was troubled by the loss of his dog, Bubba, who had been picked up by animal control after he was hospitalized.
Between hospital staff and workers at the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter, Bubba was tracked down at a foster home, and — despite rules forbidding dog visits — one was arranged at the hospital earlier this month, WKYT reported.
“One of our social workers realized it was mourning the loss of the dog that was making our patient even worse and emotionally unhealthy. We pulled out all the stops and found the dog,” Kimberly Probus, chief nursing officer at Baptist Health Corbin, said.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” Probus said of the reunion.
Wathen, 73, began to cry when he saw his elderly, one-eyed Chihuahua, and then his mood began to brighten.
Bubba’s condition — he’d been emotionally distraught since their separation, and had stopped eating, too — also seemed to improve.
Hospital officials say they plan to have Bubba visit Wathen regularly, and — based on what they saw — they are also looking at implementing a new pet visitation policy.
“To see James and Bubba get back together. It was heartwarming. It’s why we do what we do,” Mary-Ann Smyth, Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter President, said.
Smyth said Bubba seemed sad on the way to the hospital, but perked up about 20 steps from Wathen’s room.
“The dog quit eating a week ago, which is very strange,” she told Today. “The dog didn’t know where James was and James didn’t know where the dog was and believe it or not, they both stopped eating at about the same time.”
By the time Bubba returned for a second visit on Oct. 14, there were visible changes in both Wathen and Bubba’s conditions.
“He’s done a complete turnaround, Smyth said of Wathen. “He’s speaking, he’s sitting up, he’s eating. He doesn’t look like the same guy. And the dog is eating and doing better now, too.”
Posted by John Woestendiek October 24th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, baptist health corbin, bond, bubba, chihuahua, dog, dogs, health, hospital, james wathen, kentucky, knox-whitley animal shelter, loss, mourning, patient, pets, reunion, separation, shelter, visits, wellness
When a friend had to put her dog down a week ago, Houston photographer Robyn Arouty joined her to provide some moral support, and to document Duke’s bittersweet last day with her camera.
Arouty, who is also an animal rescuer and advocate, joined her friend Jordan Roberts on July 7 as she let Duke feast on hamburgers and visit a water park before he received a lethal injection — all while surrounded by friends.
Duke, a black Lab, was diagnosed a few years ago with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, and had his right front leg removed. The cancer came back, though, and was spreading.
“His tumor was growing rapidly and we were out of options,” Roberts said. “He would rally during the day, but his nights were increasingly uncomfortable as his tumor started to separate his ribs. We struggled with the decision to let Dukey go, but ultimately did everything in our power to protect him from further pain.”
She made an appointment with a vet to have him euthanized on Monday, July 7. Then she called Arouty, who had taken photos for her before. She told her about her plans for Duke’s last day and asked her to photograph it.
Arouty’s photos show Duke and friends eating hamburgers in the morning, visiting a water park, and cuddling with friends.
Along with the photos, Arouty told the story of Duke (narrated from his point of view) on her blog . (Note: At the time of this writing, it was having some technical difficulties.)
“Jordan let me know she had scheduled the appointment with the vet and the words just came,” Arouty told KSL.com. “See, I have lost three of my own dogs in the past year and a half.”
“With the help from our friends, Dukey had a beautiful day filled with love and happiness,” his owner said. “We should all be so lucky.”
(Photos: From Robyn Arouty’s Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 15th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, black, cancer, death, dog, dogs, duke, dukes last day, euthanasia, euthanized, jordan roberts, lab, labrador, last day, loss, osteosarcoma, pets, photographer, photography, photos, put down, retriever, robyn arouty
This ad for Trifexis depicts a dog living in a bubble — albeit it one that’s outside and has plenty of tubes to run around in.
It serves to protect him from heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, flea infestations and all those other frightening hazards that exist in that place where dogs, for centuries, managed to survive:
What we find most interesting about it, though, are the disclaimers, which seem to have risen with doggie prescription drugs to the same level they have with human ones, where three-fourths of the advertisement are devoted to a listing of potential scary side effects, quickly recited in monotone, in hopes you — or your dog — won’t really hear them.
With Trifexis, it goes like this: “Treatment with fewer than three monthly doses after the last exposure to mosoquitoes may not provide complete heartworm prevention. The most common adverse reactions were vomiting, itching and lethargy. Serious adverse reactions have been reported following concomitant extra-label use of ivermectin with spinosad alone, one of the components of Trifexis.”
On top of the warnings recited, more appear in small print during the ad:
“To ensure parasite protection, observe your dog for one hour after administration.”
“If vomiting occurs within an hour of administration, give another full dose.”
“Puppies less than 14 weeks of age may experience a higher rate of vomiting.”
In their print ads, the makers of Trifexis additionally advise the drug be used with caution in breeding females, and in dogs with epilepsy. Its use in breeding males has not been evaluated. Print ads also list lethargy, depression, decreased appetite and diarrhea as possible side effects.
The chewable, beef-flavored tablets — administered once a month — are a combination of spinosad and milbemycin oxime, and they serve to prevent heartworm disease, kill fleas and prevent infestations and treat hookworm, roundworm and whipworm infections.
The tagline for the ad is “You don’t have to go to extremes to protect your dog from parasites.”
Apparently you do, though, if you’re selling prescription drugs — for canines or humans — to protect your ass from lawsuits.
To see all our “Woof in Advertising” posts, click here.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 21st, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, appetite, bubble, canine, caution, chewable, depression, diarrhea, disclaimers, disease, dog, dogs, drugs, environment, fleas, health, heartworm, hookworm, human, infections, itching, lethargy, loss, mosquitoes, parasites, pets, prescription, prevention, protection, roundworm, safety, side effects, tablets, trifexis, tube, veterinarians, veterinary, vomiting, warning, whipworm