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Tag: thanks

You remember Ace

aceandmikey

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.

aceandjenYou’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.

A sampling:

“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.)

Ace and Bim at Idle Hour

Ace and Bim at Idle Hour

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.

aceatidle“Ace, there isn’t a human or dog that didn’t love you!” wrote another, posting a photo of Ace at the Idle Hour, his favorite bar.

“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.”

Ace and Stringer at Recreation Billiards

Ace and Stringer at Recreation Billiards

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.

SONY DSC

“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.

The best part of being a liveaboard

What I’ve liked most about being a liveaboard are the visitors — be they friends or fowl.

There’s a family of ducks that pops by regularly.

Egrets? I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. Just one actually, who, while making croaky-clicky noises from somewhere in that long and winding throat, landed softly on the edge of my boat, then took off the second I started fumbling for my camera.

And then there was this guy (top) — you tell me what he is — who didn’t seem to mind being photographed at all. Perhaps he’s an egret, too, though he was much smaller than the giant croaking one.

They were all welcome on the ark, with the exception of members of the rodent and snake families who I’m happy to report we saw none of at all — for which I thank the feral cats.

In our week living aboard a friend’s 30-foot sailboat in Baltimore, we’ve had a few human visitors, too, and I’ve enjoyed sharing what’s not really mine — the river, the boat, the sunsets … pretty much everything I offered except for Ace’s company, my beer and my now empty box of Cheeze-Its.

While offering little, I received much and thanks go out to the friends we’ve tried, tested, sought favors from and shacked up with. Maybe it is home, after all.

I think I’m actually moved — and it wasn’t just the bobbing of the boat. My return visit and the kindness Ace and I were shown by the friends, former Baltimore Sun colleagues, new liveaboard acquaintances and the occasional sea bird has meant a lot.

Once again, it’s hard to leave. The urge to nest is growing stronger. I’m wondering, how can I go back to a lonely Motel 6 after all  this? Do I have another three months on the road in me? Does Ace?

I guess we’ll see. Because it’s time to go — gotta fly.

Lifelines: Dog clings to rope even after rescue

shyloShylo, a 5-year-old husky, spent more than an hour bobbing in the icy waters of the Rock River in Illinois before firefighters tossed him a rope.

Shylo grabbed the rope in his mouth and held on, getting tugged partly to shore before a firefighter slid across the ice to pull him the rest of the way out.

Even then, back on land and in the arms of his rescuers, he kept the rope gripped in his mouth, not releasing it until after he was back home with his owner, the Rockford Register Star reported.

This week the dog’s owner Peggy Yarber, brought Shylo to the Harlem-Roscoe Fire Department to thank the firefighters who hauled him out of the river.

“This dog is my whole life,” Yarber said. “I can’t thank you enough. I really can’t. If it weren’t for you, he wouldn’t be here.”

Yarber was visiting a friend when Shylo wandered off. He was found about a mile away, having fallen through the ice in the river. A nearby homeowner called authorities.

A Winnebago County animal control officer, tossed Shylo the rope that he latched onto to amid the ice chunks to help keep his head above water. As he neared shore, firefighter Christi Wilson crawled across the ice to grab him and slide him to shore.

On Tuesday, Yarber took her dog with her to thank the firefighters. Wilson greeted the dog with a bag of treats.

“Just him being here is enough thanks for me,” she said.

(Photo: Scott Morgan/Rockford Register Star)

Wrestling with words, Rourke thanks his dogs

It’s pretty common for actors — and even moreso athletes — to thank God for the win, but Mickey Rourke, in accepting a Golden Globe award last night, thanked his dogs.

In one of the bigger surprises of the evening, the perennial “bad boy” — once viewed as washed up, burnt out and over the hill — completed his comeback by capturing the best actor honor at the 66th Annual Golden Globes for his role in “The Wrestler.”

Rourke beat out Leonardo DiCaprio for “Revolutionary Road,” Frank Langella for “Frost/Nixon,” Sean Penn for “Milk” and Brad Pitt for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

In “The Wrestler,” Rourke portrays Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a professional wrestler past his prime, holding on to the remains of a once-famous career — circumstances that run more than little parallel to the actor’s own.

But, as Rourke noted last night, even when alone and at the bottom, he had his dogs.

“I’d like to thank all my dogs,” he said, “the ones that are here, the ones that aren’t here anymore, because sometimes when a man’s alone that’s all you got is your dog, and they meant the world to me.”

Giving thanks for the animals

We can think of no better way to mark this Thanksgiving than with this piece, written by Alcestis “Cooky” Oberg, a contributor to USA Today who remembers more than a few dogs waiting for scraps under the dinner table…

“Spaniels, shepherds, setters, poodles, ridgebacks, Labradors and whatnots. All these dogs were strays — lost canines who wandered into our lives and nestled into our hearts. We lived together as a multispecies family, enjoying the seasons, the feasts, the joys together. The dogs were there to soothe our sorrows, too, and to ease the passage of time in the lonely moments of the night.

In an op-ed piece, Oberg gives thanks for her animals and their rescuers.

“This Thanksgiving, I will give thanks for my animal companions in life and for the hundreds of organizations and thousands of people who take notice of such creatures throughout the nation — rescuing them, defending them and finding them homes. It is hard and sometimes unpleasant work, and nobody gets rich doing it. But the ultimate test of our humanity is how we treat animals, and these people redeem our species by saving millions of helpless creatures every year.

Oberg writes of adopting her dog Sierra.

My local SPCA’s efforts brought me my dog, Sierra, 13 years ago. My kids urged me to go there after a beloved pet dog died suddenly. I was crying as we walked past the cages — and in the last one stood Sierra. She was a large spayed female Labrador/shepherd mix, about a year old. She wagged her long magnificent tail confidently as soon as I looked at her, and her brown honest eyes spoke to me as if to say, “I’ve been waiting for you.”

And of losing her.

“My old girlfriend Sierra died in her sleep this summer at a very old age — the human equivalent of 105 — with three generations of my family and my large circle of friends mourning the loss of this true and noble soul. We buried her in the shade of the pecan tree she favored, not far from the large sand pile where the children play with toy soldiers and trucks, and beside the path to the barn we walked together twice a day to feed the horses. She will remain in death as ever she was in life — in the heart of my family.

“I’ll especially miss my sweet old beggar with her soulful smoldering eyes beside my chair this Thanksgiving. But I’ll say a prayer of thanks for having known her, for how lucky I was to have found her that cold day at the SPCA 13 years ago.

“She brought us laughter, protection, devotion — and a kind of love that was distilled to a purity that we’ve rarely found in any other aspect of our life journey.

(Photo: A Viszla named Laila — who just so happens to have her own blog — appears thankful for her owner, and vice versa, during a walk in Baltimore’s Riverside Park; by John Woestendiek)