Booger — the heart, soul and sturdy foundation of a streetside act that brought together dog, cat and rat for performances that amused millions (if you count online) — has died.
The 13-year-old dog — a Rottweiler-Labrador mix – died Monday night from kidney and liver failure at a veterinary clinic in her hometown of Telluride, said her owner, Greg Pike.
Pike brought together Booger, a cat named Kitty and a rat named Mousie, taught them to arrange themselves in a pyramid and showed that animals can buck their stereotypes and view each other as more than predator and prey.
The hopeful message behind the act — in which Mousie stood atop Kitty, who stood atop Booger, most often on the west end of Pearl Street in Boulder — was that maybe we humans could do a better job of getting along, too.
It all started off on a bet, though.
Pike began putting the act together soon after he was given Booger as a puppy, according to the Boulder Daily Camera:
One day in a Telluride park, Pike and some others were discussing the limits of what’s possible, and he bet that he could get a dog, cat and rat to get along.
After finding Kitty and her littermates in a box under a house, Pike said he introduced the cat to Booger. They hit it off immediately and were inseparable from that point. Over the years, several different rodents have been used in the act.
Pike didn’t limit his entertaining to Colorado. To counter the sadness he saw in people after 9/11, Pike took the animals across the U.S. He said he enjoyed seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they saw the animals walking around, stacked on one another.
“Everywhere I brought them, they made people smile, and it just made me feel really good inside,” Pike said.
The act appeared on the Animal Planet series “Must Love Cats” and a YouTube video of them has been viewed more than 9.75 million times.
Pike said Booger will be cremated, and in the spring he will climb to the top of Gold Hill in Telluride to spread her ashes.
“I think my eyes are drained. It really hurts,” Pike said Tuesday. “She didn’t die in pain at all. She passed away in comfort in Telluride, where she loved to be.”
Kitty seems to be missing Booger as much as he is, Pike noted.
“I’ve never seen her curl up to me this much.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 31st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: act, booger, boulder, cat, colorado, dead, died, dog, dog cat rat, getting along, greg pike, instincts, kitty, mousie, peace, performance, pyramid, rat, stereotypes, street, street performers, telluride, video, you tube, youtube
As some of you know, the main reason for my lengthy layover in Winston-Salem, North Carolina — in addition to it being the place of my birth, and a lovely mid-sized town, and its temperate climate, and its thriving arts scene, and it’s cigaretty legacy — is that my mother lives here.
About twice a week we get together. They are brief and pleasant visits, usually for a meal at the retirement community in which she lives, though sometimes I manage to talk her into an outing.
It has been nice to live so near her, and we get along well, almost drama free. I feel we’ve grown closer, and that she’s grown closer to Ace, too — but not so close that she’s accepting when he drools on her, as he does when she breaks out the dog biscuits.
“It leaves a stain,” she says. “No,” I argue, “drool doesn’t leave a stain. It just disappears.” (I know this from my own pillow.) Usually, any disagreements we have are minor, like that.
There’s really only one recurring major issue we clash over: pants, namely mine.
Well, there is the job issue (as in I should really get one) and the health insurance issue (as in I should really get some). But mainly it’s pants.
She thinks I should have some ”dress pants.”
That’s her term. To me, it seems a contradiction. “Dress pants” is like “bottle can” or “shoe socks” or “underpants hat,” or like those half skirt/half shorts things women once wore that I think have gone out of style. What were they called? Culottes?
For nearly 40 years, I’ve worn blue jeans every day. There might have been a brief phase where I experimented with corduroy, but mainly my lower half is constantly clad in denim, which I’m pretty sure is the reason all the hair has rubbed off my lower legs.
I knew when I moved here that the official uniform of the southern male was khaki pants, but I figured I could get by with my one pair. Alas, in my mothers view, they — at least my pair — don’t constitute real dress pants.
This is because all my pants that aren’t jeans — and I think most of them were purchased in the 1980s or early 90s — have extra pockets and, often, a little loop for a hammer.
At some point — and perhaps it still is, I don’t know – it became fashionable for some men’s pants to have a little loop for a hammer, even though they were worn by non-carpenters who didn’t need a little loop for a hammer.
My other non-jean pants are what I think are called “cargo pants” — the ones with extra pockets and pouches with velcro flaps at knee level.
To my mother’s eye, neither carpenter-style pants, nor cargo-style pants, nor “casual pants” of any ilk qualify as dress pants.
In my defense, I ditched many of my belongings, possibly including some “dress pants,” before Ace and I began our travels. Maybe I figured I would be attending few formal functions on the road, and would be more likely to need pants with a little loop for a hammer.
Besides, I never liked “dress pants.” They are too billowy. I need pants that I know are there, that embrace me. It’s probably the same concept as that Temple Grandin hugging machine, or the Thundershirt.
With Thanksgiving coming up, I’ve been invited to join some friends of hers – my mother, not Temple Grandin – at the retirement community for dinner, so again last weekend, the subject of “dress pants” arose.
“Do you even have any dress pants?” she asked.
“These are dress pants.”
“Dress pants don’t have little loops for hammers.”
“Well you can do other things with the little loop,” I said.
“Nothing I can think of right off, but I’m sure there are other, more formal uses.”
The interesting thing about this tension — and what is Thanksgiving without some family tension? — is that it’s a carryover from my teen-aged years, a good 40 years past, when we’d have many an argument, more heated than the ones we have now, about appearance and especially the length of my hair at the time.
Recently, in going through her papers, with her permission of course, I found a letter I had written her one summer during my college years, lecturing her on how it was what is in one’s heart that was important, not the clothes upon one’s back or the length of one’s hair.
Such a sanctimonious little wannabe hippy I was.
Anyway, with Thanksgiving approaching, I have three options. Plan A is to wear a suit (I do have a suit). Plan B (because I do like to sometimes irritate my mother) is to wear my pants with a little loop for a hammer and actually put a hammer in the little loop. Plan C (because I also like to, on rare occasion, make her happy) is to go buy some “nice dress pants.”
Plan C is highly unlikely. (But I did get a haircut yesterday.)
I’m leaning toward the suit, or at least the pants from the suit. Chances are they will be a little tight, but I think maybe with help from the claw end of a hammer, I can squeeze into them.
Now where did I put my hammer?
Posted by jwoestendiek November 23rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, appearance, attire, big boy pants, blue jeans, cargo pants, carpenter pants, casual pants, clothing, dogs, dress, dress pants, families, haircut, hammer, holidays, humor, khakis, mother, pants, parents, peace, pets, spiffy, temple grandin, tension, thanksgiving, travels with ace
Meet Gregory Pike — currently homeless in Santa Barbara, California — and his dog, cat and rat.
Most days, Pike can be found on State Street there, along with his dog Booger, his cat Kitty, riding atop the dog, and his rat Mousey, riding atop the cat.
The Mayor of Santa Barbara reportedly found it so heartwarming a scene that she had it videotaped and sent it out as a holiday card. We find it to be right up there with the elephant and dog story out of Tennessee.
We also find it more than a little ironic that, if you go to the comments section beneath the dog-cat-rat-getting-along video on YouTube, you can find dozens of petty, mean-spirited, bickering comments from humans who seemingly can’t.
The best factual account of Pike and his animals we could find was in The Bottom Line, a bi-weekly newspaper sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Pike, originally from Telluride, Colo., says he has been studying animal habitats and psychology for about 30 years, has worked with animal rescues and rehabilitation centers for mountain animals, and has a diverse background in animal training.
Pike says the act started ten years ago “when someone said it couldn’t be done.”
“I understand animals and why they do things. I understand some of the barks, and the meows, and what the different ways they do it mean. I’m not a Doctor Doolittle, but I know what they’re asking for.”
Pike told The Bottom Line that he has some insights into what makes people tick as well, and with his act hopes to be able to catch the attention of people to pass on his messages of peace and humanity to the human species. “Peace can happen anywhere — if they can do it why can’t people?” he said.
Pike reportedly hopes to someday open a free pet adoption and rescue center, which is why he keeps a can out for money.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 31st, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, behavior, booger, california, cat, dog, dog cat rat, gregory pike, homeless, humans, kitty, mayor, mousey, peace, pets, rat, santa barbara, understanding, video
There are a couple of dogs in this video, in the background, at the beginning.
If you think there needs to be more reason for it to appear here, on a dog website, there’s this one: Music — like dogs, like causes, like inspirational leaders, booze, Bingo and lazy Sundays — can bring people together, slow them down and put them in a position to make the world a better place.
That position also being the first name of our country: United.
The video above, from the documentary, “Playing For Change: Peace Through Music,” features non-huge name performers from around the world, street musicians in many cases, performing the Ben E. King classic “Stand By Me.” Each musician added their part to the song as it travelled around the world.
Mark Johnson, the Grammy-award winning producer/engineer and co-founder of Playing for Change, embarked on the mission after hearing two monks playing in a New York subway and watching about 200 normally harried commuters stop and listen.
Over the last decade, Johnson’s mission evolved into promoting international peace through global musical cooperation.
“For the past four years, a small crew has traveled the world with recording equipment and cameras in search of inspiration and human connections,” Johnson explains. “The result is a movement connecting the world through music … Music has the power to break down the walls between cultures, to raise the level of human understanding.”
Dogs are much the same way, I think. And who, after all, is better at standing by you? If we stood by each other the way dogs stand by us, well, to quote John Lennon, “Imagine.” So those are the reasons, if we need them, that we proudly present this particular video on this particular lazy Sunday.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 25th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: global, mark johnson, music, musicians, ohmidog!, peace, peace through music, playing for change, project, song, stand by me, unite, united, video, world, worldwide