I like big dogs. I cannot lie.

Actually, big dogs isn’t quite accurate. I like huge dogs, as well as medium, large, small, and smedium dogs. Case in point: Our basset hound (Jack Reacher) is actually a big dog– he weighs seventy pounds. But he has a low clearance, so we think of him as small, or small-ish.

There’s a particular method to having a giant dog live in your house. You begin by assuming that any and all couches are going to be destroyed. Let’s consider our Great Dane Bernadette, who loved with us for six glorious years and three couches. Great Danes are as big or bigger than a human, but with claws. Ergo, your couches are toast. Your bed is toast. Your chairs are toast. Bernie weighed just over two hundred pounds (not a bit of fat) and enjoyed, shall we say, a life of luxury.

By luxury, I mean naps.

But “big” is a relative term when compared to Bernie. Take our Great Pyrenees, Mabel, who is one hundred pounds. That’s a big dog, and yet she’s half the size of Bernie. Mabel, too, has the ability to kill couches. She also does so with a massive floof bomb of white fur that makes pollen season look like a charming joke. There are few animals on the planet who can produce more floof than a Great Pyrenees. It’s science.

But, Terry, you’re thinking– what if you lose your mind and purchase a light colored couch? Won’t that eradicate the issue of white fur?

Allow me to introduce you to Michael Dean Carr Maggert. Big Mike is a Newfoundland, also known as a Nuclear Chocolate Floofinator, capable of producing five bales of brown floof in two days. Once again, please don’t argue. It’s science.

You may be wondering, “But Terry, what about the drool?”

I’m glad you asked. Oddly, all of our big dogs have produced some drool, but not the gulley washer of saliva one might expect from a beast their size. Still, I am always living with the assumption that every article of clothing I have on will show the following signs:

  1. Hair. Short, long, light dark. Hair. Hair like every day is the early 1970s and you’re hairing it up at a production of Hair with someone named Hairy McHairison.
  2. “Geeze”, or the shiny, dried streaks from dog drool that are almost always on the front of your best item of clothing.
  3. Random tears/rips. “Hey dad, pay attention to me.”  RIP.
  4. Hair

The lint catcher in our dryer could supply an Irish fishing village with enough hair to keep them in sweaters for a century.

Also, one should prepare for giant dog tails breaking things– sort of like four legged Godzillas who are REALLY happy to see you every time you leave the room and come back. But without the nuclear firebreath.

So. Let’s see those big dog pics– whatcha got? Danes? Pyrs? Newfies? Wolfies? We love them all.

Cheers,

Terry

Cancer took another friend.

Cancer– the scourge of our lifetime– took Dr. Lloyd Elliott this week. He was fifty, he was our family veterinarian, and he was a rare individual.

My wife and I love our animals. We regard our relationship with them as a kind of covenant, and Dr. Elliott was a huge part of our lives for the past sixteen years. He was kind, intelligent, patient, and gifted. He was empathic. He was a friend. He took care of our pets in health, and helped usher them on when disease and age made their lives unbearable.

He was with us on the very best of days, and on the worst as well. He cried with us, cheered with us, and cared for our friends as if they were his own. On the last day of Bernadette’s life, my Great Dane was too weak to walk. She weighed two hundred pounds, but Dr. Elliott met me at the car and helped us into the hospital, where she would take her last breath as we all cried, missing her even as her spirit left the room.

Dr. Elliott was– and is– a special human, and I will miss him. I cannot fathom what his family is enduring. I buried my Mother due to cancer, as well as my Nana, my Aunt, and my Grandfather. It’s a ruthless, implacable and capricious killer and I hate it with all of my heart. We lose good and great people to it, and through it all, wonder who is next.

I hope and pray that Dr. Elliott’s family can, in time, find some measure of peace. What do you say? I don’t know. I didn’t even know what to say when my own mother died, how can I articulate the loss for another family? Is compassion really enough? It feels hollow, somehow. I don’t want that kind of hurt to exist for a family who gave us someone loved by so many people.

Sometimes, it feels like sorry isn’t enough. This is one of those times.