Sad Day

Posted: 30th April 2014 by Taxi Hack in Uncategorized


Had to put down one of my dogs Monday… I mentioned Roadkill before, but never mentioned Riley, my Black Lab. Riley was very old and very sick, arthritic, going blind, and riddled with tumors, and his time had come. As George Carlin said, you aren’t buying a pet, you are buying a small tragedy.

Riley was about 12 or 18 months old when we got him. He was living in the back yard of some people that didn’t really want a dog, but just didn’t have the heart to kill him. He was on an eight or ten foot chain for nearly his entire life, always outside in Florida’s alternating heat/pounding rain, getting fed 3 or 4 times a week, and drinking nasty rainwater out of a kiddie pool full of algae and mosquito larvae. His previous owners were blowing town, and my hunnee heard about this dog from someone who came in to where she worked, asking if anyone could take this dog before they beat feet. So she got the number and went over there (without even talking to me) and put him in her car. Had she not done that, they would have turned him loose, or just left him chained in that back yard.

My first thought when I saw him was, “Why did my wife bring a dog here to die…?” His ribs were showing, his coat looked like a fuzzy old sweater, and he was crapping blood.

So we spent a month or two bringing him back to life… in time, he rounded out at about 85 pounds. At first, we had trouble getting him to go outside on a chain… he acted like he thought he would be chained out forever again, and couldn’t get back in the house fast enough.

Once he figgered out that being outside didn’t mean he’d never come inside again, he insisted on being outside for extended shifts of watchdog work. He punched in every evening for sentry duty, and he was incredibly alert. And woe be unto you, if you are any sort of snake, possum, dog, raccoon, cat, or any other creature that creepeth or crawleth upon this Earth… he will be on you like a bad rash.

And should I walk outside and find him snoozing, he immediately snapped to attention, like he’s thinkin’, “Oh shit! The boss caught me sleeping on the job!”… and he immediately did a perimeter sweep of the yard to check for intruders…

Interesting story (well, at least to me)… I went outside one night around midnite to have a smoke, and Riley walked up on my left side, sat down, and went on “high alert”, sniffing the air and scanning the yard. I was looking up at the stars, and suddenly Riley bolted to the far corner of the yard at full speed and pounced on something… he startled me with this sprint. It’s dark over there and I can’t see what is going on, but Riley came trotting back to me… he comes right up to me and drops a stunned possum at my feet. He walked around behind me, comes to my left side again, and with great flourish and with enormous pride, he plants his butt on the patio, wags his tail a little, and looks at me as if to say, “How about THAT…?”

I was stunned… I haven’t taught this dog anything but basic commands, and he is bringing me food… He brought meat to the alpha, rather than eating it himself.

I’m gonna miss that dog… I called him “Old Man” the last couple of years as he got slower and greyer in the snout, but I’m going to remember the jet-black sentry, the watchdog and hunter, the dog that brought me a possum to eat.

I miss ya already, Old Man…

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  1. Comrade Terry says:

    Condolences. I know how it is.

  2. Matt says:

    Sad indeed. It’s always such a loss when a dog passes away (for whatever reason). They really are a part of the family. My condolences to you and your wife.

  3. Reminded me of this story…
    “No Dogs In Heaven”

    An old man and his dog were walking down a hot, dusty road lined with a beautiful white fence on both sides. As they walked along, the old man and his dog became very thirsty and tired.

    • wilnis says:

      Sorry for your loss. Just going through the same process and it hurts. They are family and as one recent facebook comment said, they are part of your life but you are all of their life. Condolences sir.

  4. Tony Radice says:

    Been there, my friend. There is no shame in those tears. Please check out the site

    May you find another friend to friendto share your heart with.

  5. jestersix says:

    So sorry, lost my “Old Man” beagle a year ago – my Dad always told me the love they give more than offsets the hurt in saying good-bye. A dog’s love is pretty darn special…

  6. Steve O says:

    I feel your pain. Mine is a Golden Lab. named Remington, getting long in the tooth may soon have to walk that same road, it will get better…Steve O

  7. Taximan – met you through “The Pig Trap”. Thank you for your writing. My Yellow Lab Beatrice (“Betty”) found me when I worked in a crappy part of town, she was 12-18 mo. and had had pups, but no pups were around. Dec. 31 2003. Nearly frozen. I have loved her like no other. She’s getting there, too. I dread the day I’ll lose her. I really don’t know what I’ll do, but thanks for connecting AGAIN. You are always welcome in my head, please bring out some more politico. You have great insight, and the ability to put it down on paper (pixels). A national diagonal salute to you from Sea Town, home of the 12.

  8. Moseby says:

    Sorry to hear of your family’s loss. I recommend anyone with an older dog read “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” by Garth Stein, if they haven’t already.

  9. Ken says:

    Sorry for your loss. Thank you for writing this piece.

  10. KOOLAID2 says:

    Sorry brother!…to you and your good wife!…I had to do that in October…I didn’t act like an adult!

  11. tkdkerry says:

    I grieve with you. But damn, that possum story is a good one! Glad you had the time with him that you did.

  12. Ang C says:

    It is very hard to lose a beloved pet, they are indeed part of your family. Rescue dogs are a family’s best friend, and your story proves that.

  13. ben ghazi who? says:

    Condolences to you and yours. I know that feeling all too well. Had to have our old black Lab put down a few years ago. Hurts like hell.

  14. B.C. says:

    I know your pain all too well, brother. Condolences to you and the family. Kudos to you and your wife for giving him a long, happy life after the sh!tty start that he had from his original owners tormenters. All of our family critters have been “founders”* and always will be.

    *— I call ’em “founders” because that’s the answer I gave when one of my buddies asked me where I’d gotten my first dog after I got out of the USAF— “Found ‘er.”

  15. Rancher Dan says:

    I wanted to encourage you in the loss of Riley. In my experience the loss of a loved companion whether human or animal always hurts the heart, but that hurt in no way rivals the joy received during the relationship. I to am sorry for your loss. Keep up the good work.

  16. J.C. says:

    Enjoy them while they are with us for they are wonderful companions and would do almost anything for their master. Had to “retire” my German Shepard of 16 years a while back. Would love to have another but just can’t bring myself to raising another one thinking about the short time they are with us….it hurts too much to see them go.
    You made his life much better and I’m sure he loved you for that.

  17. Solomon says:

    Sharing your sorrow. The loss of a canine friend seems to mark an end of an era. Sometimes I ponder what we actually grieve for. RIP Riley . Honor his memory by always having one by your side.

  18. Well, they are retrievers, you know!
    I’m a hunter and have had dogs my whole life but the best I ever had was Pelicana Birdies Kurli. Kurli was a granddaughter of Pelican Lake Peggy, one of the great field trial Black Lab champions of the late sixties and seventies but I only hunted her and she never left a duck or goose in the field. On one occasion she even dove underwater to get a duck. She broke ice to retrieve a goose. She responded to voice, hand and whistle signals. She loved my children and would tow them through the water while they held her tail. She jumped on a bully to protect my 5 year old son on one occasion. When I reached for the shotgun she became extremely excited and quickly jumped in the truck. If I missed a bird, which seldom happened, she would whine like a Banshee until I threw out a duck so she could go get it. To say I loved that dog would be a gross understatement. We had long talks while we waited for ducks and Kurli seemed to understand much of what was on my mind and she kept my confidences very well. Part of my soul died with her, she was just 11. That was in 85 and I remember her still om most days. She was never tied up and never wore a collar. she was more obedient than most humans I know. Sorry to go on but most folks just don’t know the capabilities of a well trained and cared for dog.

  19. maxx says:

    Man, they do wiggle in and find a place in your heart. Leaves a big hole when they go too.
    But that’s what they do and why we love them I guess. My thoughts go with you and yours.

  20. Tim says:

    My condolences on losing your dog. Everyday, I mourn my 8 year Boxer that suddenly passed 2 years ago. The day she passed, I was with her in the morning, she was happy go lucky then came home from helping a friend later that day to find her at the foot of the stairs. I rescued her from someone who could not keep her was going to put her in a shelter. She help get me through a rough patch in my life that seemed unending.

  21. Raymond Twodog, Colonel, US Army (retired) says:

    Just found your blog on a link from Turd’s site (
    I’ve read several of your posts and enjoyed each one. Your touching eulogy to Riley brought tears to this old warrior’s eyes and prompted this response.

    I’ve got two dogs sleeping on the sofa as I write this. They’re the latest in a long string of wonderful souls wearing fur coats. I rescued their Mother when she was pregnant, living under our neighbor’s deck during a bitter winter. MommaDog died last summer at the young age of 10 when a dastardly unknown, tumor on her spleen burst. She was healthy, happy and chasing a ball with my grandson just three hours before. I know tragedy and my soul aches at your loss. Riley was a lucky dog, but you and you’re family were even more fortunate to love such a wonderful dog.