Paying respects to a friend…
8:00 AM EST on November 4, 2013
Remember a few weeks ago when I vaguely mentioned the work-life balance? Before we get started this week, I wanted to share a personal note and follow up on that.
Recently, I lost my roommate, lunch pal, coworker, deal sealer, walking buddy, bodyguard, exterminator, back-up alarm clock, and overall partner in crime, Rowdy.
You may remember him as an Ogle Madness 9 seed, or the dog who owned a copy of the Alchemist. I’ll always remember him as my best friend.
I adopted Rowdy the week of Thanksgiving 2007 from an animal rescue in Prague, Oklahoma. I was going through a tough spot in life and needed a dog. Rowdy was going through a tough spot in life and needed someone to get him the hell out of Prague, Oklahoma.
He had all the qualities you’d look for in a canine. If you described him in one word, it would be “chill.” He was always cool, calm and collected. That being said, he was also very social. He enjoyed people and other dogs, but not to the point where he was annoying or bothersome. Basically, as the lady at the adoption place told me the day I picked him up, “Rowdy’s just a good dog.”
Rowdy’s favorite things to do were play hide n’ seek (yeah, I’m that guy), go for rides and take long walks through the neighborhood. He loved treats, canned dog food, and staring out the front door window. He hated rain, thunder and wanted to kill all vacuum cleaners.
His proudest moment in life probably came during what I call "The Great Mouse Invasion of 2009." Yada Yada Yada, Blah Blah Blah, there was a mouse problem at my house. My roommate was in his bedroom cleaning out his closet (a.k.a. Mouse Mansion) when a mouse bolted out. Rowdy, always observant and curious, pounced. I’m pretty sure it was his first (and only) kill. You could tell he was proud. He acted like he caught the game winning Frisbee, hung out with Kevin Durant and then banged the collie from the Purina bag all in the same day.
Of course, Rowdy had some great moments in life that I knew nothing about. The person, family or pack of wolves that owned him before me obviously cared for the guy. He was housebroken, knew a couple of tricks and was well-behaved. His lady-killing move was to sit up on his hind legs and beg. It was his way of saying “Look at me, I’m the most adorable pet in the world.”
Here’s a grainy muted video:
For all his adorable qualities, Rowdy did have one issue. He wasn’t in the best of health.
He had bad teeth, a heart murmur, sensitive skin and battled chronic ear infections. One of the antibiotics used to fight those infections left him about 90% deaf. For his last 18-months, he could not hear audible commands. All of our communication took place through sign language and loud claps.
Over the spring, his health really started to deteriorate. He was having problems holding down food. The vet chalked it up to food allergies. We put him on a special zero-grain diet and they gave him a steroid shot. That solved the problem…for about a month. I took him back in and the vet gave him another steroid shot. It again solved the problem…for about a month.
After going through that cycle a few more times, I was referred to Dr. Leslie Sauber, an allergy specialist in Tulsa. She put Rowdy on a goddam expensive hypoallergenic diet and low doses of prednisone. After a few days, he was holding down his food and his energy level jumped through the roof. Problem solved!
Or so we I thought.
Three or four weeks ago, Rowdy’s condition worsened. He wasn’t eating as much, lacked energy, and worst of all, I noticed a couple of lumps near his throat. Fearing the worst, I took him back in for an appointment. Dr. Sauber checked him out, took a sample, and confirmed my fears: lymphoma.
Rowdy probably had lymphoma the whole time. Usually, vets prescribe steroids to treat the symptoms and extend the dog’s life. After 6-12 months, the steroids quit working and the cancer takes over the body. That’s what was happening to Rowdy.
The day before I had to put Rowdy down, I had a feeling that his time was coming. His lymph nodes were swollen all over his body. He was hardly eating and his energy was low.
Knowing that our time together was limited, I decided to take him on one final trip to the neighborhood park. Back in the good old days, we’d walk to the area, make a couple of laps around the ¼ mile track, and then head home. This time, he was too weak for that level of activity. I put him in the car and made the three-block drive down the street. Other than the a few kids playing on a swing set, the park was empty. It was that first cool day of autumn and the sky was clear and the air was cold. My jacket still smelled like my hall closet.
When we got to the track, I let Rowdy be the guide. We moved at his pace. He smelled the trees, park benches, metal poles and piles of dog shit. Eventually, we made our way off the track and into the field it encompassed.
At that point, I unhooked Rowdy’s leash. With it removed (pic above), I’m not sure either of us knew what to do. It was something I had never done before. I stayed back; far enough to give him space to roam, but close enough to chase after him in case he tried to make a slow run for it. He didn't. He explored the chain-link baseball backstop and other dog stuff. After a few minutes, he lumbered back to where I was and looked up at me. He was right there by my side, just like he'd always been.
The past week or so has been tough. I'd like to thank all my family, friends and Ogle Moles for the kind words and positive vibes. And I'd really like to thank my little man Rowdy. You were the best dog a guy could have. Miss you, bud.