Cogito Patris

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

Two Months Ago

Two months ago my world was turned on its ear.

Two months ago, I lost a job I loved.

Two months ago, I lost my identity as a wage earner.

Two months ago, I realized how far behind my son is in his social interaction.

Two months ago, I was forced in to a greater responsibility for my children…and all the stress that goes with it.

Two months ago, I lost faith in myself.

So far, I have not landed on my feet.  I am still unemployed.  For the first time since college, I went on a client interview and was rejected.  For now, I am trying to stay sane…everything else is gravy.

October 13, 2008 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

A Sign of the Times

We finally did it.  Out old 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan had finally pushed us too far and we opted to replace it…with a shiny 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan.

Bells, Whistles and 110,000 fewer miles may all sound good, but what about the gas?

I was actually upset that I had filled up the tank the day before we traded it in. 

We only got $1,700 for the van.  Not surprising considering the big dent I put in the back fender when Melody was a week old and I was taking her to her doctor’s appointment with a grand total of 12 hours sleep in that week (I exaggerate for effect…but not by much).  Scratches on the sides and a transmission that was leaking could not have helped our resale value.

So the $60 of gas I put in represented 3.5% of the value of the car.  When I took the new car for a test drive I noticed it was at half a tank.  That means that I was going to “lose” $30 in gas.

After completing the paperwork I go to drive the new van home only to notice they filled the tank for me.

For some reason, I felt better about spending $16,000 on a car with a full tank of gas.

August 8, 2008 Posted by | Random Thoughts, The Kids | Leave a comment

Low Self Esteem

I have suffered from low self esteem all my life.  Mostly it is a concern over my weight.  Some of it is a certain perceived social awkwardness.

I thought I was improving in the self esteem category until I went to Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago.  I lost all of the money I brought for gambling, but that isn’t the point.  You see, I was hungry one night around 10:00.  So I went down to the casino to get a bite.  When i got off the elevator a beautiful young woman called me over to her. 

She said “are you alone?”

Now I was not with someone at the time, though my Mother and Brother were with me on the trip, and my Brother and I were rooming together.  But being the technical person that I am, I said “Yes”

She said “Do you want some company?”

At this point I finally realized that she was a prostitute.  Call me slow if you like, but it really did take me this long to even consider the possibility.  Partially because the was very pretty.  I said “No thanks” and kept walking.  When I told my brother about this the next day he asked how much she would have been.  I am proud to say that I didn’t get that far.

Here is where the self-esteem thing comes in to play.  You see, I was flattered by the prostitute considering me.  My self-image is such that I could not imagine anyone (other than my wife) wanting to be with me.  Even though she was “on the clock” it was nice to know that I am not that repulsive.

Wow, that sounds even more pathetic than I thought.

August 5, 2008 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

The Good Samaritan

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in my chair finishing up the latest episode of Burn Notice when my bride came home with the kids.  I only had 10 minutes left on the episode, so after I helped get everyone settled down and rotated through the potty I returned to my show. 

Five minutes later there was a knock at our door.

I cursed under my breath and went to send whomever it was away.  Usually, it is a religious person handing out crap that I don’t want.  But this time it was a motorcyclist saying that there was something leaking out of the bottom of my wife’s van.

I said it was probably just condensation from the air conditioning, but that I would take a look anyway.  He said that condensation should have evaporated and that he had followed the leak for 3 miles.  I look under the car and find that the transmission is leaking severely.  I immediately drive it to the repair shop.  About a block from the shop it stopped changing gears out of first.

That guy saved me having to have my wife’s car towed the next morning when we would have noticed.  I also would have left for work and we would have had to find an alternate means of transportation in the morning.  The heads up this guy gave me allowed me to get my carpool to pick me up (Mondays are usually my day).

I didn’t get his name.  I have no way of contacting him.  He was kind without reward.  And I thank him and wish him good karma.

July 28, 2008 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

Pet Peeve of the Day

I just hate when I get to the last character of my password and fat-finger it so that I am not sure if I typed an extra character (or two) or not?  I end up having to go back to the beginning and start again.

July 9, 2008 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

Wall-E vs Number 5

Does anyone else see a similarity?

Wall-E Title

Wall-E Title

July 8, 2008 Posted by | Random Thoughts | 5 Comments

New Project

As if I didn’t have enough going on at the moment, I have started a new project.  Funding may be an issue with this one, but feel free to take a look:

July 5, 2008 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

Wall-E: Review from a Regular Guy

I don’t consider myself a regular guy…I doubt anybody does. Everyone thinks they are special…don’t they?  I have learned long ago not to listen to professional movie critics.  Many of them are more interested in the artistic aspects, rather than simple things like entertainment value.  Also, I will try to avoid giving away too much of the plot, but the close observer will undoubtedly be able to deduce some things from my words.  If that isn’t what you want, then do not continue.  With all that being said…

I went to see Wall-E on opening day.  In fact, I had to keep myself away from going to the first showing.  Instead, I went on a date with my wife…after dark.

Overall – Excellent movie, not my new favorite as I thought it might be.

In fact, the thing I can tell you is that it met my expectations.  That may not sound like much, but considering how high my expectations were, it is the highest praise I can give the movie.

I will say that I was a little disappointed in the theater I went to see it in.  During the last half hour the sound didn’t match the action…it was off by a good two seconds.  I found it distracting.  My wife…didn’t notice.

The movie did have some imagery that was disturbing specifically to me as an obese human who gains a certain guilty pleasure from the current commercialism and welcomes the coming era of robotic servants.  As with everything else…everything in moderation.

Also, some of the robotic speech was a little difficult to understand.  These are minor issues.  It is a fun and cool movie and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys wholesome entertainment.

Something I will likely follow-up with is an analysis of the movie…just to suck the fun out of it.  But that will have to wait until the DVD release.

July 5, 2008 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

I Wholeheartedly Agree

see more dog pictures

June 30, 2008 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment