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Random Thoughts for Random People

RIP Sparky

5/14/1999 – 10/29/2008

Greatest Dog: This last year my wife watched a reality TV show called America’s Greatest Dog.  At first I tried not to watch.  The reason I refused to watch was because, as a rule, I hate all reality TV.  Eventually, the show grew on me.  But I had to admit that they did not have America’s Greatest Dog on the show.  The reason is simple.  The owner of America’s Greatest Dog would not put their beloved pet through the stress of a reality TV show.  A dog doesn’t care about prizes.  A dog only wants to love and be loved.  With the love of a child being that much more special.  A child’s favored dog is America’s Greatest Dog.

What Happend: Sparky’s death was a shock.  We didn’t really see it coming, though he had been “sick”.  Over the past few years his liver enzyme levels have been elevated.  That means…I still have no idea what that means.  We had a $500 ultrasound (he wasn’t pregnant).  That told us that he did not have half a dozen issues, but that his liver had a bunch of lumps.  So, we had an $1,100 biopsy.  That told us it was not cancer.  The only thing left was that it was probably a genetic disease that is somewhat common in labs.  The treatment was $400 worth of antibiotics followed by $250 worth of other medications every month for the rest of his life.  Which turned out to be 28 days.

That last month he was unusually aggressive with taking food that was not his.  He wasn’t attacking other dogs, but he would take food that was right next to me.  At the same time he had stopped eating breakfast.  He also was unusually nervous.  He wouldn’t even stay on the bed.  He stayed alone a lot.  Otherwise, he was himself.  Trust me, I am making more of these abnormalities than there were.  A majority of the time, he was his normal happy self.

The morning of his last day he was seemingly his own self.  Although he was a little more whiny than usual.  I figured his arthritis was flaring up again.  He had a bath.  After the bath he was even more whiny.  I am ashamed to say that I yelled at him.  But he continued.  So I gave him a pain pill he had left over from his surgery.  After dinner I went to check on him and found he had passed.

My wife took took him to an emergency vet just in case there was anything they could do.  Of course, there was not.  The theory provided was that his failing liver threw a clot which made it’s way to his lungs.  He fell asleep with the pain pill and simply passed quietly.

Sparkinator-isms: That is enough dwelling on his end.  I want to share something of him.  He was a happy dog.

When my father died unexpectedly at the age of 55…11 days after 9/11, he was the one I turned to for comfort.  He always looked like he was smiling. 

His favorite activities were swimming and having his barrel-shaped chest rubbed, right where he had a big patch of white. 

His name came from the tip of his tail which was the only other part of him that was white.  When he wagged his tail, it looked to me like a small electrical spark travelling back and forth.  So for those who thought it was just a generic dog name like “Rex” would be wrong.

In the past few years our dogs have been fighting each other when they get overly excited.  Sparky was not one of the attackers.  But he would always try to get the attacker off the attacked.  Our own little peacemaker.

As a puppy we took him for training.  His training included agility training.  He and his sister (Peanut)  were both trained in agility.  Although Peanut was faster, Sparky was better.  As a result, it was not unusual for Sparky to be used as an example by the instructor.

Sparky was easily trained.  His tricks included Sit, Down, the previously mentioned agility tricks, Roll Over, Crawl, Put ‘Em Up, “Commercial” (Bark at the door…we don’t know why), “Look” (There is food around, go look for it), and my favorite: “Right”.  “Right” was a command for him to nod his head like he was agreeing with me.  My wife and I are continuously disagreeing with each other on her cuteness.  I say she is, she denies it.  So I would go up to Sparky and say “Mommy’s Cute, Right” and he would nod in agreement. As a result, I win the argument.  She just hasn’t conceeded yet.

One of the things I was thinking of doing when one of my kids thought a monster was in their room was to take Sparky in to the room and command him to “Look”.  He would look around trying to find the food.  Then I would say “There are no monsters in here, right” and he would nod his head in agreement.  I just never got a chance.

Sparky was half Lab and half Border Collie.  What does a Lab like to do best?  Swim.  Collie?  Herd.  When we first got Sparky we were living in Northern Virginia in Gainesville.  The house was on a lake and the fence was an electric fence.  On hot days it was not unusual for us to come home and find both dogs (Peanut and Sparky) wet from breaking the fence to go swimming in the lake.  Angel and I used to take the pups for a walk around the lake.  Peanut, being a fraidy-dog, would only get in up to her belly.  Sparky on the other hand would relish in swimming around.  In fact, on more than one of these walks he swam across the short end of the lake.  It was a small lake, but it certainly was not a pond.  This lake was also a standard stop for geese.  Sparky, being a Border Lab, would try to herd the geese…IN the lake.  He would swim out to them and try to circumnavigate them.  And this will always be my favorite memory of my favorite dog.

Final Thoughts: Sparky’s death caught me off guard and I was in tears for days.  But my life is better for having known him.  He was loved and he certainly loved me, my wife and my kids.  And he was America’s Greatest Dog.


November 2, 2008 Posted by | The Kids | 3 Comments