Thursday, April 16, 2009

Leader of the pack: R.I.P.

From Dave...

My introduction to Adam, a scrappy little puppy, white, fluffy-coated, pug-nosed Shih Tzu, was sudden, thrust upon me be my then wife. We had agreed not to get pets without consulting each other. “But, he was sooooo cute, and Sarah (our not quite one-year old) just loves him,” she said. “And he only cost $600!”

“What!?!” I exclaimed. She quickly retorted that it was an investment. We could breed him because he was pure and had papers.

A week later, she had poor Adam fixed. So much for my Shih Tzu Ranch Empire.

Maybe that’s when I started to feel empathy for the little guy…and him toward me. We bonded, as only dog and man can. The roles completely reversed. I became his hero and my wife turned on him, a foreboding sign in our marriage.

When my wife and I split, the only thing she left me without litigation was my new fast friend, Adam.

And fast he was.

Living on a golf course, Adam and I would venture out on the cart, me driving and him riding shotgun. The pup would dive off at first sight of squirrel, bird, rabbit, or other dogs.

He especially liked chasing a huge Irish setter.

One time, the red dog decided he’d had enough. Adam and Red got into a fur-flying, teeth-gnashing brawl. I threatened the red dog with my wedge. He backed off. It was a good thing because I was under clubbed.

The lead dog must face the cold wind first…

Turns out, Adam was an adventurous lad, determined to find out what the world was like.

He disappeared for a month. I missed my old friend and was worried he had been eaten by a pesky poodle or a small hawk. The ad I put in the paper proved fruitful. Farmers about five miles away called and said they had a scruffy white dog outside their back door barking up a storm.

As I pulled up their driveway, I marveled at how far my little puppy had traveled. Adam was marched out, emaciated and dirty, a torn bandana around his neck. I told his saviors that he looked like a pirate. Then they revealed that he was seen by them and others leading a pack of wild dogs. I asked, “Are you sure he wasn’t being chased for his snack appeal?”

They replied, “Nope.” He’d been spotted by many leading the same pack of dogs for a couple of weeks. One day it appeared he’d had sowed enough of the wild tribe and began barking at their door leaving his vassals rudderless.

When Adam saw me, his head sank and he slowly walked back to my car as if to say, “BUSTED!”

Just when the world is in the palms of your hands, your nose begins to itch

Several years passed. They were happier years. Adam seemed content with his routine of chasing critters both on and off the golf course and snuggling with me at night.

Then he disappeared again.

I was co-hosting a local morning TV show and flashed Adam’s picture on camera. That day I got a call from people who lived in a subdivision about a half mile away.

This time Adam played it smart. He cased the ‘hood and found just the situation he was looking for. He barked his way into the hearts and home of three little girls. Adam spent the next two weeks getting spa treatment, baths at least once a day, hair trimmed, brushed and curled, doggie pedicures, and curls buffeted by ribbons all over his petite, once manly, torn pirate-scarfed little body. The biggest cut of all was the girls renamed him…“Popcorn.” They had given him a doggie makeover or as I referred to it later: they pimped my dog.

I was a little jealous.

Adam, AKA Popcorn, seemed so happy that I offered him to the girls’ dad and mom. They said they were moving and couldn’t take him. Relieved, I lead Adam to the car. He looked back at the spa in remorse. I opened the door and said, “Nice to have you back... Popcorn.”

Now that I’m happily married, Adam is still my best friend. My wife Joni brought a white Westie named Bennie, to the marriage. About nine months ago she purchased a black maltese/shitzu combo named Ralphie.

As Adam aged, he no longer chased critters when riding in the cart. But he maintained his stature in our house like a calm old leader, almost Churchillian in his presence. The other dogs showed their respect with reverent head nips and sniffs.

Adam, at almost 90 in human years, lived an adventurous and at times risky existence.

Hearing the inevitable, my one prayer upon his unlikely reincarnation is this:

Don’t come back as a pesky poodle.

Adam Weinbaum died Wednesday, April 15th, at 2:45 PM CDT. He was loved. He loved us back. He was my best friend. He will be missed. May G-d embrace Adam and hold him until I come for him.

"I will see you again... just not yet." From The Gladiator.

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