Category Archives: Family

All the news that’s fit to read about the family.

The Longest Ride

Darla's Little Rascal
Darla’s Little Rascal

Man, I hate writing stuff like this…  Last night, we took the longest ride with our little Emma, taking her to the vet to release her from the pain she’s been in for so long.

Emma came to us from a farm in Wright City back in 1999, just after Becky and I were married.  Becky had wanted a Bernese Mountain Dog forever, but had raised a wonderful English Springer Spaniel when she was young.  She knew that I was more of a cat-person in those days, and felt that a smaller, “training wheels” dog like a Springer might be just the thing to set the stage for a Berner in the future.  So, little Emma came into our lives.

She was a very sick puppy, and I think that’s how she and I bonded so strongly.  She’d cuddle up with me, melt my heart, and wrap me around her tiny little paws.  In fact, during those days, she used to sleep under the covers, cuddled up against me.

There’s no doubt Emma was a little hound dog, with her nose always on the ground, sniffing out everything that had ever happened on any piece of ground.  We trained her, and she showed that she could do pretty much anything we wanted.

A couple of funny memories…

When she was about two, we used to leave her out while we were at work.  On one day, we came home to find a puddle of blue ink on our white carpet, and gazillions of little blue paw prints all throughout the house.  Emma had gotten bored, and decided to chew up an ink pen.  She got tired of that and walked all over the house, leaving these little paw prints everywhere.  Her mouth was blue from the ink, and with the carpet well inked, it looked she’d killed a smurf in the living room.

On another occasion, Becky worked with a vendor to get a refund check for some paint that really didn’t work very well on our walls.  The check came in, and sat on our coffee table for a while.  Emma discovered it one day (again, while we were at work), and ate it, leaving Becky with a rather embarrassing phone call to the vendor to get them to re-issue the check because the dog had eaten it.

Much later, when Em was about seven or so, Becky found out that Starbucks would let you take old coffee grounds to put in your garden.  Becky put a couple of bags of these old grounds out in the backyard garden.  Well, Emma’s nose found the coffee, leading her to eat a bunch of the old grounds.  Emma was ok, but all night, she marched around the bedroom, with every loop stopping to look out the window, and let out a little “bwoof” to anything that would listen, after which she’d march the next lap.  We finally crated her, and she slipped into a deep, deep, caffeine-crashing sleep.

In her later life, she began getting stiffer and stiffer, and was in pretty constant pain, turning her last few years into a exercise in pain management.  During that time, she grew mostly blind, mostly deaf, and exhibited strong signs of canine dementia.  We’ve known for months that we were staring at an inevitable decision point, and finally, her discomfort exceeded what the pain management could do for her.  It was time.

Wednesday night, we played with her as much as she’d let us, took some photos and video.  We made a paw print.  We snipped some of her fur.  And we loved on her.  We cried, and in the first moment of real normalcy from Emma in a couple of years, she licked the tears from our faces, once again, briefly, being the dog we had known for so long.  We gave her some popcorn — one of her favorite treats, and just tried to keep her comfortable, knowing what was coming.

Last night, Becky brought her a little McDonald’s hamburger, and each of us fed her a little bit of it as we waited for time to leave for the vet.  Once again, Dr. Hooks helped us take care of one of our dear pets, and let Emma finally rest, relieved of her pain.

We got an email from Dr. Hooks later last night, and he let us know that Emma was one his first patients as he joined the practice he’s still at.  In fact, her first appointment with him was fourteen years to the day as her last visit with him.

Becky asked Dr. Hooks if there were any studies out there that Emma could help with.  He found a study on canine dementia, and took samples for the study.  We were really happy Emma could be helping with other dogs that might face this in the future.  Who knows — maybe that research will help with human studies in dementia.

And now she’s gone.

The house is quieter, and has a little less life in it.  I’m pretty sure Bailey figured it out.  She sniffed where Emma would typically lie, and looked at me last night as we were going to bed, almost asking if I’d forgotten to bring Emma into the bedroom.  She’s a smart dog.

It’s tough, but I know we did the right thing.  Emma was in major pain, and holding her here just to ease our hearts wasn’t fair, as weighed against her hurting so much.  I don’t like that this was the choice we were left with, but I’m at peace with it.

As Becky said last night, Molly and Emma are back together again.  They were inseparable for almost ten years, and I’m sure that once again, they’re romping about, being the goofy critters we once knew.

It Never Rains, But It Pours


Yesterday, we lost my brother-in-law, Rob.  As my mother told me yesterday, it’s been a tough month.

Rob was a very cool guy, married to Becky’s older sister.  He and Carolyn were simply made for each other.  They struck me as relics from the 60s, still carrying the values of the youth of that era.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that for a long time I felt like I was temporally misplaced, and should’ve been a contributing member of the latter part of that decade.  As it was, I was just turning six at the dawn of the 70s, and so only read about that era.  To me, Rob and Carolyn brought that decade alive for me every time we saw them.

Rob was a hyper-distance runner, and man do I wish I’d talked with him about that!  As I continue to struggle through learning how to run and how to enjoy it, I’d love to have picked his brain around his running regimen, and how he kept motivated to do it.  If you search the internet, you’ll find records of him running from 50km to almost 200km in events through the midwest.  That’s amazing, especially to a big ol’ guy that looks at 5km as a big deal.

He was a gentle man, and a very unique guy in a world that needs more unique in it.

Run, Gutdayzke, run.


Today is the tenth anniversary of when we lost Dad.

Ten years. And it still just kills me to realize he’s not here. This weekend is also would’ve been his 72nd birthday.

Because of all that, we’re headed home for the weekend, beginning our drive tomorrow. I’m looking forward to getting home. It’s the first time since my cancer treatments in December that I’ve seen my family. I need that, and I suspect they’ll like seeing me after the rough road through the winter.

I know when we talk about Dad this weekend, we’ll laugh ’til we cry, and cry ’til we laugh. Probably do the same thing when we talk about my sickness. But that’s what family’s for, and one of the things I’ve been craving for a while.

Home is where you park your shoes, where you hang your hat, and where you can scratch where it itches, but home is also the place where they welcome you with open arms. And that’s where I’m headed tomorrow. Can’t wait.

3604 Days

The Unsinkable Molly Bonk RN CGC
The Unsinkable Molly Bonk RN CGC

Today, we took the longest drive with Molly. Today we put her to rest.

We’d been tackling structural problems with Molly for several months, and after many exams to see what could be going on, she stabilized. However, she started having other problems, and we started looking into what was join on.

On Friday, we took Molly into the vet, and had a specialist do a sonogram on her. The news wasn’t good. She had an inoperable tumor that was taking up half her bladder, along with creeping into other parts of her. Essentially, we were talking about days of time left before she would descend into a really painful life.

After talking with the vet Friday, we set an appointment for this afternoon to let her go, and avoid the pain and suffering that was just around the corner. By far, this was the hardest thing I’ve had to do since Dad died almost ten years ago.

So today, Becky and I took her to the vet, and sat with her while she slipped away. It really was as peaceful as the vet described, and she just slowly went to sleep on my foot, eventually leaving us.

This afternoon’s been really tough, with four fewer big paws stomping around the house. We know she’s better off though, as what was in front of her was miserable and agonizing.

There’s an old Swiss saying: “Three years a puppy, three years a good dog, three years an old dog. All else is a gift from God.” With Molly, we had all that, but for us, it was 3,604 days as a gift from God.

A New RN

Becky and Trulli's Scrumptious Bailiwick, RN, CGC
Becky and Trulli's Scrumptious Bailiwick, RN, CGC

Yesterday, Beck and Bailey went Purina to show for her third and final leg for Bailey’s Rally Novice. From what Becky described, Bailey’s performance wasn’t exactly stellar, but it was enough to get the needed leg to get Bailey’s RN title. In fact, Becky didn’t even go look at her score, thinking they’d missed the cut. That’ll teach her to doubt herself!

Becky told me that Bailey once again kept her nose on the ground once she got in the ring. That’s gonna be a challenge as Becky starts to work with Bailey on obedience and other titles. Knowing them, they’ll get through it, although it may take a trick or two.

They went back today, and Bailey scored much better, and got another ribbon for her work. Just a little insurance. 🙂

Congrats gals — hard work well rewarded!

Becky really liked this photo, and I do too. Instead of mugging for the camera, the photographer (not me) caught them in a very tender moment, Darla to Smudge. That’s what photography’s all about — not just documentation, but capturing the emotion of a moment. Way cool.

Valentine’s Day

Tonight, Darla and I had a great Valentine’s Day dinner at Sapporo Sushi. This is the second year that we’ve spent our February 14th at Sapporo, and once again, they prepared way more sushi than any mere mortal should possibly attack.

It’s funny how these little things become traditions. True, we’re only two years into our relationship with Sapporo, but it’s because of Becky that I’ll eat sushi at all. I’ve always loved seafood, but it took Becky kidnapping me about a decade ago, and starting me down the dark side of sushi.

Now, I’m a sushi fiend. I haven’t found too many sushi-related items that I don’t care for, and I’ve even said that I’d be willing to try blowfish. Something about food that fights back by potentially killing you has some appeal for me.

Wait — I was talking about Valentine’s Day, not sushi.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Darla. Here’s to a boatload more.

Bailey Graduates!

After many weeks of class, Bailey passed her CGC (Canine Good Citizen) test yesterday. She’s been in heat for the last two weeks, so she’s got mush for brains right now — I am really surprised that she was able to pass given her lack of attention span right now.

So now both her and Molly have their CGC’s. I’m betting Bailey adds an RN (Rally Novice) this year to follow in Molly’s pawsteps.

Congrats Bailey!