Today, I had to have Walter, my “best friend” and constant companion for the last 12 years, euthanized. Over the weekend, Walter lost the ability to use his hind legs. His veterinarian was unable to determine a treatable cause. During her examination, she determined that Walter had diabetes, and an enlarged liver. She said that his lameness could be caused by a neurological disorder, a minor stroke, a pinched nerve, spinal problems, a couple of diseases that I can’t remember, or the above mentioned diabetes. Her recommended course of treatment was, naturally, putting him on insulin immediately for the diabetes, X-rays, and a plethora of expensive diagnostic tests over the span of the next couple of months to try to determine the cause, then possibly a surgery if it was indicated. Her prognosis did not include any guarantee that Walter would ever re-gain the use of his legs. Given Walter’s advanced age (about 13) and over-all weak condition, I reluctantly made the decision for euthanasia. I like to think that he is now in a happier place with his life-long friend Wolfie.
Walter was a “foundling”. He was Black and Tan. He was marked remarkably similar to Wolfie, my other “friend” that I had to have euthanized last August, (considering that they were entirely different breeds and are totally unrelated). When I first got him, the veterinarian estimated his age to be close to Wolfies’ (judging by dental wear and over-all condition) so I just “celebrated” both birthdays sometime on Memorial Day weekend. He was some sort of Spaniel/Terrier/whatever-jumped-the-fence mixed breed. His coat was “Spanielesque”, but I tried to keep it trimmed fairly short. (Less work for me). He weighed about 25 lbs and stood 10 inches tall at the shoulder. I found him (or he found me) at our terminal in Salt Lake City, UT in September of 2001. He had been abandoned there, or had found his way there after being abandon somewhere else. He was terribly frightened. I think that he had been abused by his previous owner. He eventually began to play with Wolfie, and when I went back to my truck, he followed. He jumped right into the truck. Oh well. The original plan was to get him cleaned up, get his shots, get him neutered, and find him a home. However, he bonded with Wolfie and I (and visa versa) so quickly that I soon realized he had already found his home. He played well with other dogs, but he would not let larger dogs intimidate him. He was a pretty much a “daddy’s dog”, although he had become much more trusting of people as he became more acclimated to his ‘new life’. Cats, unfortunately, were strictly for barking at and/or chasing. He disliked motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, roller-skaters, joggers, and anything else that moved suddenly. For some odd reason, he loved to bark at cows whenever we drove past a herd in a field. In the end, he was pretty much a “couch potato”, but when he did venture outside, no squirrel was safe from reprimand if he violated Walter’s “space” (which pretty much included his entire field of vision).
BORN: Unknown (sometime in mid 2000).
LIVED: Unknown; Daddy’s Truck; Palo Alto, CA.
DIED: April 2, 2013.
OCCUPATION: Beloved Canine Companion.
INTERESTS: Food, cuddling daddy, food, being a “watch doggie”, food, exploring dark places, food.
FAVORITE QUOTE: “Grrruff, Bow wow wow”
FAVORITE THINGS: Napping, treats, napping, lying in shady places, napping, rolling in the grass, napping, making “snow doggies”, napping.
He will live eternally in my heart.
Below are few pictures of him.
Left: First picture of Walter. October, 2001. Henderson, NV
Center: Walter with “ouchy paw”. A foxtail embedded itself into his paw & had to be surgically removed. August, 2002. Salt Lake City, UT.
Right: Playing with his BFF Wolfie. He had the upper hand fore the moment. July 4, 2003. Las Vegas, NV.
Left: Walter opening his Christmas present. Christmas Day, 2003. Palo Alto, CA.
Center: Kickin’ back in the truck. March, 2004. Carlisle, PA.
Right: “Shaggy Walter”. Put that #&*@ computer away and rub my tummy please. December, 2004. Columbus, OH.
Left: “Hmmmm? What’s this?” May, 2005. Laredo, TX.
Center: Walter making “snow doggies”. January, 2006. Meadow, UT.
Right: “I’m king of the doggies.” March, 2006. Wild Wild West Casino, Las Vegas, NV.
Left: Frolicking in a big field. June, 2007. Jenks, OK.
Center: OH CRAP!! I’m gonna get wet. September, 2009. Big Lagoon State Park, CA.
Right: The last picture I took of Walter in our back yard. April 1, 2013. Palo Alto, CA.
Last week I picked up Wolfie’s ashes from the Palo Alto Department of Animal Services. There are three options available when you take your pet in to be euthanized. The first is to just have him/her euthanized, which costs $110.00 (they cremate all remains, and under no circumstances will they return the carcass to you for burial, not that I would have taken that option anyway). The second option is to have the ashes returned to you. This costs an additional $40.00 (you will receive the ashes in a plastic bag inside a nice wooden box. And the third option is to have the ashes returned to you with a commemorative plaque on the box. This costs an additional $15.00, for a total cost of $165.00. Of course, I went with option number three. Wolfie’s is shown below.
I removed his ashes from the box and will display it [the box] in a prominent place in my house. After much deliberation, I decided that rather than merely scatter his ashes in the back yard, I would mix them in with some potting soil. That way, he will be helping things grow in the yard for a long time. He loved to “stop and smell the flowers”, so now he will help them grow. His ashes are now a part of the soil in the four square planters on the patio in the picture below (one under the umbrella, and the three on the left).
Wolfie spent his days since our retirement enjoying “his” backyard, and only came into the house at bedtime. He loved nature, and now he is a part of it.
What I miss most about him is not being greeted at the door with a smile every time I go outside, and because of his innate herding instinct, his need to be the last one through a door.
He is truly missed.
Today, I had to have Wolfie, my “best friend” and constant companion for the last 12+ years, euthanized. He was suffering from arthritis, seizures of unknown origin, and bone cancer. At least now, he is free from the pain, anxiety, and frustration he endured for the last month or so. A small consolation is that I still have Walter. He is about the same age as was Wolfie, but at least for now, is in good health.
Wolfie was given to me as a birthday present in 2000. He was about six weeks old. He spent most of his life as an over-the-road truck dog. We traveled to all 48 states and three Canadian Provinces. We logged well over a million miles during our travels. How many dogs can say that?
Wolfie was an Australian Sheepdog (Kelpie). Kelpies are “working” dogs and are intelligent and loyal. They were bred to endure the harsh climate of the “outback” where they “work”. They also make good “family” pets. They are not now listed as an AKC (American Kennel Club) registered breed, but the breed is recognized in other parts of the world. Wolfie was Black and Tan. He weighed about 45 pounds and was 20 inches tall at the shoulder. He was very gregarious, and like Will Rogers, “never met a person he didn’t like”. He was also extremely active, alert, and curious up to the end. He enjoyed playing with other dogs, and could have played well with cats too if he weren’t so hyper. He didn’t understand how intimidating he was to smaller animals because of his size.
BORN: May 30, 2000 in Salt Lake City, UT.
LIVED: Daddy’s Truck, Palo Alto, CA.
DIED: August 7, 2012
OCCUPATION: Beloved Canine Companion.
INTERESTS: Eating, chasing vermin, eating, sniffing the ground, eating, “guarding” his home, eating.
FAVORITE QUOTE: “Woof, woof, woof”
FAVORITE THINGS: Napping, frolicking untethered in an open field, napping, rolling in the grass, napping, getting “doggie treats”, napping.
He will be greatly missed.
Below are a few pictures of him.
Left- Wolfie just after I got him. Age between 6 to 8 weeks.
Center- Wolfie at about 12 weeks old.
Right- Wolfie again at about 12 weeks old.
Left- Wolfie at about 16 weeks old. Notice that his adult features are beginning to become apparent.
Center- Wolfie’s first birthday. He’s quite the environmentalist. His favorite “toys” come from nature.
Right- Wolfie’s first birthday. Takin’ a break from the festivities.
Left- Wolfie chillin’ in Jordan Park in Salt Lake City, UT. Circa June, 2009.
Center- Wolfie (and Walter) on the beach in Big Lagoon State Park, CA. Circa August, 2009.
Right- The last picture I took of Wolfie. Also notice the “handicap” ramp I built for him. August 4, 2012.
This evening we had us a good old-fashioned “weenie” roast. I made a nice potato salad to go along with the ‘weenies’.
In addition, we had corn-on-the-cob, roasted squash, and chili and sauerkraut, ostensibly for the hot dogs, but they turned into extra side dishes as well.
After dinner, we had some toasted marshmallows, or in my case, had “marshmallows flambe”. I never could keep the darn things from catching fire.
The “cool dogs” called ‘dibs’ on any hot dogs that hit the ground.
I took an overnight trip to Santa Nella, CA on the 5th, with the specific purpose of finding an area with an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon so that I could take pictures of the “Super Moon” on 5/5/2012. The moon was at its closest orbit to the Earth for this year, and was supposed to be 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual. Here are the results. You be the judge of whether or not the above percentages are correct.
I found an ideal spot about ¾ of a mile east of Interstate-5 on CA-152, then south on a service road for the California Aqueduct for another ¼ mile. The lights of the southern outskirts Los Banos, CA are in the foreground in some of the shots. These first two pictures are of the sunset. I took all of these pictures with my Nikon D40 with a Tamron 18-200mm Zoom Lens. The picture on the left was taken at 18mm wide angle. The one on the right was taken at 20omm telephoto. It was serendipitous that the birds flew into the frame just as I snapped the picture.
I was disappointed with the moonrise at first. The moon started to rise right on time at 8:01 PM, but I couldn’t see it until about 8:03. The infamous San Joaquin Valley smog obstructed the view in the beginning, but only for a few minutes.
By about 8:10, the moon was cooperating and giving me the effect I was hoping for, that bright orange color. This series also demonstrates just how much light a Zoom Lens uses. The picture on the left was taken at 200mm zoom and the picture on the right was taken just a few seconds later (just long enough to unzoom, refocus and shoot) at 18 mm wide angle. Notice how much darker the picture on the left is.
By 8:25, most of the orange color was gone as the moon rose above the horizon. The official “watch bovine” stopped by. After assuring himself that I wasn’t stealing grass for the herd, he went on his way. By 8:35, the official time for the full moon, it was totally yellow.
After I finished, I headed back to Santa Nella, about 4 miles from where I took the pictures. I had dinner at Pea Soup Anderson’s (I don’t know what the official name of the establishment is, I’ve just always called Pea Soup Anderson’s). I had the “all you can eat” Split Pea Soup. It comes with bread, crackers, and a drink for $9.50 (plus tax and gratuity). After dinner, I retired to my motel room for the evening with my canine traveling companions. They were exhausted after an afternoon spent scouting possible shooting locations.
All in all, it was an awesome experience, and I’m glad I made the trip.